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Cold Comfort Farm (BBC 1995,

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England in the 1930s and 20-year-old Flora Poste (Beckinsale), recently orphaned and left with only £100 a year to live on, gamely goes to stay with her distant relatives at Cold Comfort Farm. Everyone on the ramshackle farm is utterly bonkers, oversexed – cousin Seth Starkadder (Sewell) – or saw something nasty in the woodshed as a child – stern Ada Doom (Burrell). Nevertheless, determined to make the best of it, resourceful Flora goes about restoring the farm to its former glory.

Schlesinger plays it very safe with this lukewarm adaptation of Stella Gibbons’s wry and very funny novel, presumably with a US audience in mind. He and Bradbury (who wrote the screenplay) manage to lose the flavour of the novel completely, instead diluting it and confusing the audience by giving them yet another British costume drama instead of the broad comedy intended by Gibbons. Horribly miscast, too.

UK | 95 minutes | 1995

Novel: Stella Gibbons
Script: Malcolm Bradbury
Director: John Schlesinger

cast
Ivan Kaye as Reuben Starkadder
Harry Ditson
Ian McKellen as Amos Starkadder
Miriam Margolyes as Mrs. Beetle
Robert James
Eileen Atkins as Judith Starkadder
Kate Beckinsale as Flora Poste
Sheila Burrell as Ada Doom
Stephen Fry as Mybug
Freddie Jones as Adam Lambsbreath
Joanna Lumley as Mary Smiling
Rufus Sewell as Seth Starkadder
Jeremy Peters as Urk
Maria Miles as Elfine Starkadder
Christopher Bowen as Charles Fairford
Sophie Revell as Rennet
Rupert Penry-Jones as
Angela Thorne
Basil Hoskins
William Osborne
Richard Bebb
William Scott-Masson
Pat Keen
Trevor Baxter
Tim Myers
Frederick Jaeger as Doctor Adolph Müdel