Bostonians

Overview

Adapted by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala from the novel by Henry James, Merchant Ivory's The Bostonians is set among the Back Bay upper-crust of the 19th century. Basil Ransom (Christopher Reeve), bored by his opulent lifestyle and his "proper" friends, is fascinated by his cousin, outspoken suffragette Olive Chancellor (Vanessa Redgrave). Basil and Olive's mutual friend is likeable, gregarious Verena Tannant (Madeleine Potter). Soon a triangle develops, albeit an unorthodox one: Basil and Olive both find themselves ...
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Nancy New, Charles McCaughan, Linda Hunt, Barbara Bryne, Wesley Addy, Nancy Marchand, Madeleine Potter, Jessica Tandy,... 04/15/1998 DVD Fair 1984 Run time: 122. Ex-library. ... All our DVDs are the original disc in the original case. Read more Show Less

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Overview

Adapted by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala from the novel by Henry James, Merchant Ivory's The Bostonians is set among the Back Bay upper-crust of the 19th century. Basil Ransom (Christopher Reeve), bored by his opulent lifestyle and his "proper" friends, is fascinated by his cousin, outspoken suffragette Olive Chancellor (Vanessa Redgrave). Basil and Olive's mutual friend is likeable, gregarious Verena Tannant (Madeleine Potter). Soon a triangle develops, albeit an unorthodox one: Basil and Olive both find themselves pursuing Verena, Basil because he is in love with her, and Olive because she wants to exploit Verena's social connections and gift for public speaking to promote her own political ideology. Lurking in the background is Verena's true love, poor-but-honest attorney Henry Burrage (John Van Ness).
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Special Features

[None specified]
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
Christopher Reeve was best known to audiences as the Man of Steel. It may be surprising, then, that his next most consistent engagement was appearing in Merchant-Ivory movies. Nearly a decade before his role in The Remains of the Day, Reeve starred in James Ivory's The Bostonians, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala's adaptation of the Henry James novel. There are several reasons The Bostonians is a lesser film in the Merchant-Ivory canon, but Reeve isn't one of them. Playing a detestable guardian of the patriarchy, who considers women better suited for motherhood than intellect and governance, Reeve nonetheless turns in a seductive performance, one that might undermine a would-be feminist in spite of herself. Such a role reminds viewers that just because Reeve was an icon, it didn't mean his range was limited to Superman. The film on the whole doesn't fare quite so well, despite tackling some important issues in the women's movement (suffrage), and hinting at others which, if given a name, would have been too risqué even for 1984 (the probable lesbianism of Vanessa Redgrave's Olive Chancellor). The Bostonians does generate a bunch of useful discourse, but other than that, it suffers from a lack of specificity. The action moves restlessly between locations without a plot-driven reason, spending relatively little time in Boston all told. And it's never quite possible to feel sympathy for the three main characters. Miss Chancellor's motives for her oratorically gifted protégé may be socially progressive, but even protecting Verena from Reeve's Basil Ransome feels like an oppressive act, designed to restrict her attentions to the movement -- and to keep her unattached. Meanwhile, young Verena (Madeleine Potter), vacillating between these two controlling influences, just seems weak and passively dishonest, a result of her lack of self possession.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 4/15/1998
  • UPC: 748507214529
  • Original Release: 1984
  • Rating:

  • Source: Geneon [Pioneer]
  • Region Code: 1
  • Presentation: Mono
  • Time: 2:00:00
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Christopher Reeve Basil Ransome
Vanessa Redgrave Olive Chancellor
Madeleine Potter Verena Tarrant
Jessica Tandy Miss Birdseye
Nancy Marchand Mrs. Burrage
Wesley Addy Dr. Tarrant
Linda Hunt Dr. Prance
Nancy New Mrs. Adeline Luna
Wallace Shawn Mr. Pardon
Maura Moynihan Henrietta Stackpole
Martha Farrar Mrs. Farrinder
Peter Bogyo Mr. Gracie
Barbara Byrne Mrs. Tarrant
Lee Doyle Mr. Filer
Charles McCaughan Music Hall Policeman
June Mitchell Party Guest
John Van Ness Philip Henry Burrage
Jon Van Ness Henry Burrage
Technical Credits
James Ivory Director
Mark Potter Editor
Leo Austin Production Designer
Jenny Beavan Costumes/Costume Designer
Ray Beckett Sound/Sound Designer
Richard Elton Set Decoration/Design
Ruth Prawer Jhabvala Screenwriter
Connie Kaiserman Producer
Michael S. Landes Producer
Walter Lassally Cinematographer
Ismail Merchant Producer
Al Schwartz Producer
Katherine Wenning Editor
John Bright Costumes/Costume Designer
Richard Robbins Score Composer
Henry James Source Author
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Scene Index

Side #1 --
0. Chapter Select
1. Titles [2:58]
2. Boston 1875 [8:08]
3. Be My Friend [8:59]
4. New York 1876 [10:53]
5. Southern Chivalry [11:18]
6. True Happiness [8:57]
7. Words Spoken From The Heart [9:08]
8. Trust [12:11]
9. Fireworks [8:13]
10. The Proposal [11:22]
11. The Funeral [9:24]
12. Visions At The Beach [10:47]
13. Olive Stands Up [6:58]
14. Credits [2:19]
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Menu

Side #1 --
   Play Feature
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