The Shooting Party
The Shooting Party – 1984 | 98 mins | Drama | Colour
James Masonís final film is a bittersweet, atmospheric dramatisation of Isabel Colegate’s novel. The quiet but volatile underlying tensions – adultery, pacifism and a gesture in the direction of animal rights – indicate that an old way of life, with its emphasis on social class, is coming to an end. Shot at Knebworth House in Hertfordshire, Alan Bridges film is beautifully shot and directed meticulously but the pacing is far too languid and the story is ultimately far too glossy and weak in its critique on the class system. The ensemble support cast includes Edward Fox, Dorothy Tutin, Judi Bowker, Gordon Jackson, Robert Hardy and a delightful cameo from John Gielgud.
In the autumn of 1913, shortly before the outbreak of World War I, a group of aristocrats gathers at the estate of Sir Randolph Nettleby (James Mason) for a weekend shoot. As the terminal decrepitude of a dying class is reflected in the social interactions and hypocrisy of its members, only world-weary Sir Randolph seems to realise that the sun is setting on Edwardian England and the approaching war will change their sheltered lives for ever.
The eventful hunting weekend becomes a deadly contest between long-standing rivals Lord Gilbert Hartlip (Edward Fox) and Lionel Stephens (Rupert Frazer), Hartlipís unfaithful wife Lady Aline (Cheryl Campbell), and eccentric anti-hunting advocate Cornelius Cardew (John Gielgud). Hartlip and Stephens bring their rivalry to a head on the hunting field, with Hartlip violating hunting etiquette and accidentally shooting local poacher Tom Harker (Gordon Jackson). As Tomís body is silently carried from the woods, the film closes by revealing how certain characters were to die in the battles of WW I.
Alan Bridges: Director
Fred Tammes: Cinematography
Tom Rand: Costume Design
Peter Davies: Film Editing
Jane Royle: Makeup Department
Robin Grantham: Makeup Department
Magdalene Gaffney: Makeup Department
Jan Archibald: Makeup Department
John Scott: Original Music
Geoffrey Reeve: Producer
Peter Dolman: Producer
Morley Smith: Production Design
Julian Bond: Script
Bob Allen: Sound Department
Alan Paley: Sound Department
Bridget Reiss: Sound Department
Bryan Tilling: Sound Department
Gerry Humphreys: Sound Department