Gosford Park

Gosford Park

4.5 28
Director: Robert Altman

Cast: Maggie Smith, Michael Gambon, Kristin Scott Thomas

     
 

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Maverick American filmmaker Robert Altman takes a witty and absorbing look at the foibles of the British class system in this intelligent murder mystery set in the early '30s. Sir William McCordle (Michael Gambon) and his wife Lady Sylvia (Kristin Scott Thomas) are a pair of wealthy British socialites who have invited a variety of friends, relatives, and acquaintances… See more details below

Overview

Maverick American filmmaker Robert Altman takes a witty and absorbing look at the foibles of the British class system in this intelligent murder mystery set in the early '30s. Sir William McCordle (Michael Gambon) and his wife Lady Sylvia (Kristin Scott Thomas) are a pair of wealthy British socialites who have invited a variety of friends, relatives, and acquaintances to their mansion in the country for a weekend of hunting and relaxation. Among the honored guests are Constance (Maggie Smith), Lady Sylvia's matronly aunt; Ivor Novello (Jeremy Northam), William's cousin who is also a well-known actor and songwriter; and Morris Weissman (Bob Balaban), an American film producer who is friendly with Ivor and researching an upcoming project. Observing the proceedings are the domestic staff of the mansion, including imperious butler Jennings (Alan Bates); footmen George (Richard E. Grant) and Arthur (Jeremy Swift); Probert (Derek Jacobi), a valet to Sir William; housekeeper Mrs. Wilson (Helen Mirren); Mrs. Croft (Eileen Atkins), who oversees the kitchen; and Elsie (Emily Watson), a maid. Also on hand are the guests' personal servants, including Mary (Kelly Macdonald), Constance's maid; Henry (Ryan Phillippe), Weissman's valet; and Parks (Clive Owens), a butler. While the servants are required to display a high level of decorum, they are expected to be passive observers who do not comment on what they see, though the gossip among them travels thick and fast once they retire to the servants' quarters downstairs. And it turns out that there's plenty worth gossiping about, especially after Sir William turns up dead, and everyone is ordered to stay at the mansion while the police investigate the killing. Gosford Park also features Charles Dance, Tom Hollander, Natasha Wightman, and Ron Webster; the screenplay was written by Julian Fellowes, based on a story by Altman and co-star Bob Balaban.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Kryssa Schemmerling
After a long career as one of cinema’s most offbeat chroniclers of American culture, director Robert Altman turned his eye on England and made his best movie since his ‘70s heyday. Gosford Park takes place on a grand English country estate in the 1930s. When the host of a weekend hunting party is murdered, everyone -- well-heeled guests and servants alike -- becomes a potential suspect in the ensuing investigation. An Agatha Christie-style murder mystery might seem unlikely material for Altman, but Julian Fellowes’s Oscar-winning screenplay is more interested in examining the intricacies of the British class system than it is in whodunit. Gosford Park also allows Altman to do two of the things he does best: subvert a familiar genre and orchestrate a large ensemble of actors, something he accomplishes here to dazzling effect. The dream cast includes Maggie Smith, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Michael Gambon as aristocrats, and Helen Mirren, Emily Watson, Clive Owen, Alan Bates, Derek Jacobi, and Richard E. Grant as servants. In the best Altman tradition, each character, no matter how limited his or her screen time, manages to create an indelible impression. Even pretty boy Ryan Phillippe, portraying a shady valet, delivers a surprisingly effective performance; the only weak link in the cast is Bob Balaban as a visiting Hollywood producer (ironically, Balaban co-produced Gosford Park). Altman uses his trademark techniques -- a roving camera and densely layered soundtrack -- to perfection here. Crucial information about the guests upstairs, who are never seen without a servant somewhere in the frame, is divulged through fleeting snatches of downstairs gossip. The result plays like a radical version of Upstairs, Downstairs in which the lives of servants and masters are fatally entwined. While not quite at the level of Nashville or the director’s other earlier triumphs, Gosford Park -- which received seven Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director -- proves that the 70-something Altman hasn’t lost his punch.
All Movie Guide
This handsome whodunit-cum-comedy of manners marks a return to form for maverick filmmaker Robert Altman. Set in a sprawling estate in the English countryside circa 1930, the movie gives Altman the chance to do what he excels in -- namely, juggle a cast of more than two dozen actors and weave a coherent, cohesive panorama of human behavior. As with most Altman movies, that behavior is distinguished by frailty and pettiness. The breezy barbarism of "civilized" people is on display, as is the strange symbiotic relationship that binds masters and servants. Altman commandeers his fluid camera through the halls, rooms, and lawns of the crowded mansion with the assurance of a master storyteller. There seems not one wasted shot in this efficient movie, and yet it breathes with the spontaneity typical of Altman. Also typical is Altman's perfunctory approach to the murder mystery. Never one interested in the rote workings of a genre, Altman sees the mystery less as an engine for suspense than as an opportunity for sad wisdom and sobering epiphany -- you could say it's less a whodunit than a whydunit. Needless to say, the material is familiar: weekends-in-the-country and upstairs-downstairs intrigues have been the stuff of other excoriations of the landed class, most famously Jean Renoir's canonical La Règle du jeu. Altman and his glittering cast -- a who's who of British acting -- wisely do not attempt to excavate new truths from the familiar form. Staying within its parameters, the movie is a lovely addition to a timeworn genre and a graceful echo of a timeless masterpiece.
Rolling Stone - Peter Travers
Abounds in scenes to savor. It's a feast, and one of Altman's best.
New York Times - Stephen Holden
A virtuoso ensemble piece to rival the director's Nashville and Short Cuts in its masterly interweaving of multiple characters and subplots.
Chicago Sun-Times - Roger Ebert

At a time when too many movies focus every scene on a $20 million star, an Altman film is like a party with no boring guests.
Los Angeles Times - Kenneth Turan
It's been nearly 10 years since an Altman film has been as consistently entertaining as this one is.

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Product Details

Release Date:
06/02/2009
UPC:
0065935827122
Original Release:
2001
Rating:
R
Source:
Alliance Canada
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Sound:
[DTS 5.1-Channel Surround Sound, Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Time:
2:17:00
Sales rank:
12,648

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Maggie Smith Constance, Countess of Trentham
Michael Gambon Sir William McCordle
Kristin Scott Thomas Sylvia McCordle
Jeremy Northam Ivor Novello
Bob Balaban Morris Weissman
Alan Bates Jennings
Richard E. Grant George
Helen Mirren Mrs. Wilson
Eileen Atkins Mrs. Croft
Emily Watson Elsie
Stephen Fry Inspector Thompson
Kelly MacDonald Mary Maceachran
Clive Owen Robert Parks
Ryan Phillippe Henry Denton
Tom Hollander Lt. Commander Anthony Meredith
Geraldine Somerville Louisa, Lady Stockbridge
Charles Dance Raymond, Lord Stockbridge
Sophie Thompson Dorothy
Derek Jacobi Probert
James Wilby Freddie Nesbitt
Camilla Rutherford Isobel McCordle
Claudie Blakley Mabel Nesbitt
Natasha Wightman Lavinia Meredith
Teresa Churcher Bertha
Jeremy Swift Arthur
Ron Webster Constable Dexter
Megan Owen Lewis
Frank Thornton Burkett
George Sherman beater
John Fountain beater
Joanna Maude Renee
Lucy Cohu Lottie
Adrian Scarborough Barnes
Frances Low Sarah
Sarah Flind Ellen
John Atterbury Merriman
Laurence Fox Lord Rupert Standish
Trent Ford Jeremy Blond
Finty Williams Janet
Emma Buckley May
Laura Harling Ethel
Tilly Gerrard Maud
Will Beer Albert
Gregor Henderson Begg Fred
Leo Bill Jim
Ron Puttock Strutt
Adrian Preater McCordles' loader
John Cox Loader
Ken Davies Loader
Tony Davies Loader
Steve Markham Loader
Terry Sturmey Loader
Julian Such Loader
Alan Bland beater
Peter Champion beater
Geoff Double beater
Robin Devereux beater
Richard Gamble beater
Brian Rumsey beater
Pip the Dog Widget

Technical Credits
Robert Altman Director,Producer
Stephen Altman Production Designer
Joshua Astrachan Co-producer
Bob Balaban Producer
Jane Barclay Executive Producer
Jenny Beavan Costumes/Costume Designer
Stuart Brisdon Special Effects Supervisor
Patrick Doyle Score Composer
Andrew Dunn Cinematographer
Julian Fellowes Associate Producer,Screenwriter
James Fellowes Screenwriter
Jane Frazer Co-producer
Peter Gossop Sound Mixer
Sharon Harell Executive Producer
Sarah Hauldren Art Director
Deborah Jarvis Makeup
Hannah Leader Executive Producer
David Levy Producer
Sharon Martin Makeup
Tori Parry Production Manager
Anna Pinnock Set Decoration/Design
Robert Jones Executive Producer
Mary Selway Casting
Tim Squyres Editor
Richard Styles Asst. Director
Peter Taylor Camera Operator
Kate J. Thompson Makeup
Norma Webb Makeup

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