Thursday, May 20, 2010

Twenty Favorite PERIOD Dramas

Below is a list of my top twenty (20) favorite period dramas:


1. "North and South: Book I" (1985) - This six-part miniseries is the first and, in my opinion, best in the miniseries trilogy about two wealthy families before, during and after the Civil War. Based upon John Jakes' first novel in the trilogy, this miniseries is set during the nineteen (19) years before the war. Patrick Swayze and James Read starred.

2. "Pride and Prejudice" (1995) - This outstanding miniseries is an adaptation of Jane Austen's 1813 novel of manners set during the early 19th century England. Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle starred.

3. "The Charge of the Light Brigade" (1936) - Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland and Patric Knowles co-starred in this loose adaptation of Alfred Tennyson's poem about the infamous Charge of the Light Brigade that occurred during the Crimean War.

4. "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" (2006) - This second movie in the "PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN" franchise focused upon Captain Jack Sparrow's efforts to evade the consequences of his debt to the villainous Davy Jones, and the wrath of the East India Trading Company. Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley starred.

5. "The Buccaneers" (1995) - This colorful five-part miniseries, directed by Philip Saville, is an adaptation of Edith Wharton's last and unfinished novel about four American heiresses who marry into the English aristocracy in Victorian Britain. Carla Gugino, Alison Elliot, Mia Sorvino and Rya Kihlstedt co-starred.

6. "Race to Freedom: The Underground Railroad" (1994) - Produced by Tim Reid, this 90-minute teleplay told the story of four North Carolina slaves who attempt to escape to Canada and freedom in 1850 America. Courtney B. Vance and Janet Bailey starred.

7. "Gosford Park" (2001) - Robert Altman directed an ensemble cast in a movie about a shooting house party in 1932 that is capped by the murder of the host. Helen Mirren, Maggie Smith, Michael Gambon, Clive Owen and Kelly MacDonald co-starred.

8. "The Four Feathers" (2002) - Shekhar Kapur directed this exciting adaptation of A.E.W. Mason's novel about an Army officer who receives four feathers (signs of cowardice) from his friends and fiancée after resigning his commission on the eve of his regiment being sent to the Sudan. Heath Ledger, Kate Hudson, Wes Bentley and Djimon Hounsou.

9. "North and South" (2004) - This excellent four-part miniseries is an adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell's novel about the culture clash between the industrial North and leisurely South in Victorian England. Daniela Denby-Ashe and Richard Armitage starred.

10. "The Sea Hawk" (1940) - Michael Curtiz directed Errol Flynn in this exciting adaptation of Rafael Sabatini's novel about an Elizabethan privateer who raids Spanish ships on behalf of Queen Elizabeth I. Brenda Marshall, Henry Daniell, Alan Hale and Claude Rains co-starred.

11. "The Chisholms" (1979) - This three-part miniseries about a western Virginia family's trek to California in 1844-45 is a big favorite of mine. Based upon Evan Hunter's novel, the miniseries starred Robert Preston, Rosemary Harris and Ben Murphy.

12a. "Band of Brothers" (2001) TIE - This excellent ten-part miniseries is based upon Stephen Ambrose's book about a company of Army paratroopers in World War II. Produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, the miniseries starred Damian Lewis and Ron Livington.

12b. "The Pacific" (2010) TIE - Spielberg, Hanks and Gary Goetzman produced this superb, ten-part companion piece to "BAND OF BROTHERS" about the experiences of three U.S. Marines during World War II. James Badge Dale, Joseph Mazzello and Jon Seda starred.

13. "Sense and Sensibility" (1995) - Ang Lee directed this adaptation of Jane Austen's 1811 novel about two sisters in Regency England who deal with their reduced financial status, while finding love. Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Alan Rickman and Hugh Grant starred.

14. "A Woman Called Moses" (1978) - Cicely Tyson starred in this excellent two-part miniseries about the life and times of runaway slave/Underground Railroad agent, Harriet Tubman, before the Civil War. Robert Hooks, Dick Anthony Williams and Will Geer co-starred.

15. "The Painted Veil" (2006) - Naomi Watts and Edward Norton starred in this adaptation of W. Somerset Maugham's novel about a loveless married couple caught up in a cholera outbreak in 1920s China.

16. "The Mark of Zorro" (1940) - Tyrone Power, Linda Darnell and Basil Rathbone starred in this adaptation of Johnston McCulley's story about a masked vigilante who helps the poor populace of Old California. Directed by Rouben Mamoulian.

17. "John Adams" (2008) - Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney starred in this superb seven-part miniseries about the 2nd U.S. President John Adams and his wife, Abigail.

18. "All This and Heaven Too" (1940) - Bette Davis and Charles Boyer starred in this adaptation of Rachel Fields' novel about a forbidden romance between a French aristocrat and his children's governess in 1840s France.

19. "Thirteen Days" (2000) - Kevin Costner, Bruce Greenwood and Steven Culp starred in this account of the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962. Directed by Roger Donaldson.

20. "Infamous" (2006) - Toby Jones, Sandra Bullock and Daniel Craig are all outstanding in this account of Truman Capote's research behind his most famous book, "In Cold Blood". Directed by Douglas McGrath.

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