Joseph Losey and Harold Pinter's elliptical film of LP Hartley's novella is fascinating to watch.
It is redolent of 1970s filmmaking, good and bad. Michel Legrand's
emphatic piano score sounds more suited to a spy thriller and the
claustrophobic sound makes you suspect it was all dubbed afterwards.
Nowadays it would be filmed as straight period drama but Losey and
Pinter choose a more distancing approach, cross-cutting from 1900 when
young Leo is invited for the summer to the Norfolk country estate of a
schoolfriend, to the 1950s when Leo returns on a secretive invitation.
Leo is smitten by his friend's sister Marion who befriends him. Already
engaged, she is secretly seeing local farmer Ted Burgess. They use Leo
as a go-between for their notes but when he discovers the secret, his
loyalties become confused.
Julie Christie, Alan Bates, Margaret Leighton and Michael Redgrave all give memorable performances.
Shelf or charity shop? Keeping it's secrets on the shelf...