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VINE VOICEon 16 March 2012
Serena Scott Thomas as Hebe, Peter Davison as Jim. John Mills as Bernard along with the supporting caste give firstrate performances in this very watchable dramatisation of the book by Mary Wesley. It's the kind of story that readily creates a 'feel good' state of mind in the viewer. It's a dateless work embued with a timelessness fitting in with any day and age. Hebe, so well portrayed by Serena Scott Thomas, comes across as a resourceful, intelligent young woman who has turned an early mistake into a lucrative business in the nicest possible way.

This production brings out the inherent humour within the tale without ever feeling the need to force it upon the viewer in the silly way that so often spoils adaptations of this kind. The affectations and quasi-moral standards of the nouveau riche are delightfully portrayed. Ms Scott Thomas's appearances in both full frontal and full rear view nude postures are a delight to behold as she portrays the 'I'm me: take me or leave me as I am' attitude of Hebe's character. Having made that one big mistake Hebe has become the good mother and strong woman who will now always be in charge even when she finally entraps the cause of her orginal faux pas. The whole story is a paean in praise of womanhood as, resplendant in her carriage drawn by her well-harnessed peacocks, she continues on her way ever triumphant.
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on 8 March 2017
Good Book
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on 29 June 2012
This is a rather pleasant little movie - from some time back mind you -1992 - and
nice to see Kristin Scott Thomas's sister doing a good job.
Shame that the transfer to DVD is very poor. Grainy and a rather washed out colour saturate. The sound gets a bit out of sync too I'm afraid. This is probably a poor equipment transfer method of the time, or a poor original tape from which it was copied. This example of the movie was produced for DVD in 2003.
There is a much more recent copy produced in 2011 (different DVD case cover picture), and this is likely to be a much better copy. Maybe worth a try for those who simply must have this film in their collection.
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on 27 May 2017
Great DVD
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on 16 March 2017
All as promised thank you
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on 21 October 2011
The novelist, Mary Wesley once said that "a wildlife has a better taste". Although a lot of people know her most famous book, The Camomile Lawn, very few people these days know other novels she wrote in her lifetime. The writing career came late in her life. But her novels, Jumping the queue, Imaginative Experience and Harnessing Peacocks are my favourite books.

Her characters are mainly very English and she drew her inspiration from the life of the upper classes. They go to the public schools. They have black tie parties. They are educated, arty, unconventional, Bohemian and almost like the Bloomsbury characters who have unusual love affairs and ménage à trois. Unlike other romantic writers' works, Mary Wesley's characters talk about sex quite openly (her works have been compared to as "Jane Austen plus sex"). Underneath the facade of the social superiority and class, she closely examines parental love and many aspects of women's and men's relations, including unrequited feelings of women for men. The dialogue is often deeply ironic.

Harnessing Peacock has a classical and romantic sense of time and place (the story is set in the most beautiful places in England). On a more literary note, the story has striking parallels with Jane Austen's novel, Persuasion. The two main characters met when they were young and then they meet again when they are more mature and perhaps, wiser.

One would like to know why it took so long to release the adaptations of her novels on DVD. To me, these films on ITV are hidden gems. They were filmed during the 80's, in the heyday of Sloane Rangers and Le Cordon Bleu (the cookery school where the Sloane Rangers went to learn how to cook). Of course, like a Sloane, these characters talk posh (Hebe character in Harnessing Peacocks is a typical Sloane). They say the word "super" instead of "excellent". The depiction of Sloane Rangers seemed slightly outdated (and the awful baggy jumpers they wear!) but the acting is still fresh and these characters are still as endearing and funny as when they were first created.

One could only hope that the ITV will release all the other films based on Mary Wesley's novels including The Vacillations of Poppy Carew (filmed in 1995) and Jumping the Queue (filmed in 1989) directed by Claude Whatham, starring with Sheila Hancock, David Threlfall, Don Henderson.
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on 3 September 2000
How does a young girl from a wealthy family with no skills or education support herself and her baby when they turn their backs on her? An absolutely charming film based on book by Mary Wesley. The characters are charming, the plot full of twists, the scenery is beautiful, and the guy gets his girl in the end. My aunt and I love it!
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on 27 October 2004
This is a lovely film.
Serena Scott Thomas plays a convincing Hebe who can harness
men in her train with her sweet nature and beauty.
However, 1 hour and 15 minutes into the film, the audio becomes out of sync with the picture. The transfer of the picture is somewhat grainy as well.
Such a disappointment.
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on 15 June 2012
"Harnessing Peacocks" is a lovely adaptation of the Mary wesley novel. Serena scott Thomas is the English rose who is disowned by her affluent family for showing up pregnant after a carnival with no idea who the father is. Her unjust exile, leads her to selling her sexual favours to a select few men who she cares about and who care deeply for her, in order to provide for her son. This isnt prostitution, its a simple business arrangement with feelings attached.

As with many of the TV adaptations of the early 90's, I think it would be hard to make this today. Before the loss of national identity in Britain and the EU connection there was an air of "British quaintness" to these productions that doesnt exist really any more. Worth digging out once a year to enjoy, especially John Mills as the world weary charmer.

Enjoy spotting the locations in the home counties that you know (Amersham market etc) and dip your nose back into a time when perhaps, life really was a bit less complicated.
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on 15 October 2011
This charming love story is Mary Wesley at her unpredictable best. It is very well acted with a perfect cast missing never a trick. Cannot recommend it enough.
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