I was looking through a list of period dramas for DVDs to put on my holiday wish list and discovered that there is a film version of Georgette Heyer’s The Reluctant Widow. I wondered how I could have missed this, as I can’t remember discussing it here or with any other group of Regency fans.
Anyway, I did a little digging. The film came out in 1950 and starred Jean Kent and Guy Rolfe. Currently, it’s only available on Youtube although it appears to have been on sale at some point at www.lovingtheclassics.com. According to IMDB, it was renamed The Inheritance at some point. The Georgette Heyer fan site (www.georgette-heyer.com) calls it a spoof, but after viewing the first ten minutes, I think it was an earnest attempt at making the story into a gothic romance. They’ve missed the humor in Elinor and Carlyon’s first meeting and it seems they were already deviating from the original plot.
Here is Part I. Watch it if you dare! And then someone please explain to me why Carlyon is wearing a military uniform.
One of the comments on this clip says that Georgette Heyer was so disappointed with this film that she made provisions never to have her books made into film again. However, back at www.georgette-heyer.com/movies.html it says that there are two production companies in the UK and the US that have the rights to her stories.
“After some e-mail hunting, I received a response from the literary agent who handles Ms. Heyer’s work in the U.K. According to his letter, his agency has been trying to interest production companies in dramatizations of Heyer’s mysteries for a long time, with no success. He said production companies “mumble about the cost of period drama, and whether there is an audience for old-fashioned crime”! Thankfully, he assured me that they plan to persevere until someone sees the light….”
If you get a group of Heyer fans together then talk with inevitably turn to television and film adaptations or, more precisely, the lack of them. There is a film version of The Reluctant Widow, which came out in Heyer’s lifetime but apparently it appalled her so much that she refused to allow any more.
However, it now transpires that she badly wanted her books made into films and there’s even recently been a Cranford style version planned with three of her books given an intertwined storyline – I’m guessing it would be Regency Buck, Devil’s Cub and An Infamous Army maybe as they are already linked by common characters.
Intriguing, but why haven’t we heard more about this?
I also found a Dec 2011 campaign to encourage ITV or BBC to do this at heyercampaign.wordpress.com/. This site includes a poll as to which stories people would most like to see on film: 1st place—The Grand Sophy, 2nd place—Arabella, 3rd place—These Old Shades or Sylvester.
I haven’t had time to follow up any of these leads, but I’m tempted. Much as I enjoy Jane Austen adaptations, there are so many good ones already! It would be so much fun to watch a sympathetic Heyer adaptation. I like the choices from the Heyer Campaign poll, but I’d also love to see Frederica, with its balloon ascension and the scene with the famous Baluchistan Hound.
So, am I the only one who didn’t know about the 1950 version of The Reluctant Widow? Does anyone have any more recent news on Georgette Heyer films? Which book would you most like to see on film?