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Fatal (or Not!) Attraction


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brickdavis has not responded. I think I have answered correctly, based on comparing the clues with the TCM description of the plot. (I think I was 9 when I saw *My Favorite Brunette.* )

 

Next question.

 

A divorced couple. Short marrage, bitter divorce. He did prison time; she prospered modestly running a store that kept her very busy. A third person enters, and this ratchets up very bitter conflict.

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The third person that shows up lays claim to being a distant relative of the ex-wife, and thereafter is referred to and addressed as "Cousin _____". They become quite close, and the emphasis is not sex, but companionship. They thrive, and her store becomes a part of what social scene exists in the small community. It always had some such status, even when her father was running the place -- but now it becomes more popular.

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The newcomer's presence fills a void in the woman's life, for the first time since the death of her "Papa". They suit each other very well. Then her ex-husband get out of the penitentiary, and her new friend gets a look at him.

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(4,708)

The husband works hard and well, and makes a major point of maintaining his ancestral estate in the country. The wife gets bored, gets maneuvered (by the new lover's enterprising mother) into renting a flat in London "to take an Economics Course". As for what is really happening, the husband is, as in the old comedy/tragedy cliche, literally the last to know.

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Their son, about seven years old, is killed in a very complicated and stupid accident on his first ride-along at a fox hunt. The message to the mother in London is slow arriving, because only a select few know where she actually is. It happens that the son and her lover have the same first name. When told that "___ has died", she first thinks it was the lover who is dead. There is relief, then confusion and shame at the relief, then the real grief sets in.

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After the funeral, still clueless, the husband still thinks his marrage has a future. ("____ will always be our oldest son...") But it's the breaking point for her, and she explains why. He consents to a divorce. (The deceased son was their only child.)

 

Conventions and social facades of the place and time demand a certain amount of hypocrisy. He agrees to let her be the "agrieved" party, so she can be the one to sue for divorce.

 

Edited by: flashback42 on Jul 24, 2012 10:34 AM

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Comedy of Manners in the execution of the divorce setup. He is to travel with a woman to Brighton, stay overnight in a beach hotel, be seen by the hotel staff registered in the same suite. Also to be seen breakfasting together in the suite.

 

Glitch. The woman in the scheme shows up with her adolescent daughter, whom she has promised a trip to the beach. Over the objections of all, she hustles the girl on the train before they can stop her. At the hotel, the husband sleeps in one room, the "correspondent" and her daughter in the other. He and the daughter are up early, and the brat wants to see the beach. They take a walk in the drizzle on a fogbound beach, then go to the dining room for breakfast. The two private detectives overseeing this charade admonish him for this unproductive detour. They finally get him back to the woman's bedroom, in bed with her (still fully dressed but under the coverlet) so a hotel maid can see them together while bringing in the breakfast.

 

The supervising detectives are miffed about this unprofessional behavior, but they do manage to get the required lineup of records, photos and witnesses to support the idea of a divorce action brought by the "wronged" wife.

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No, not a Merchant/Ivory Productions film.

 

The husband makes his preparations to provide a living income for the ex-wife. Dealing with her lawyers, he faces new demands. His offer does not allow her to support her lover comfortably. Their solution: sell his ancestral estate ( ! ) and realize enough income to set her and the gigolo up comfortably, and he will have a large block of cash himself. (At that time, a lot of the English gentry were making moves like that with large, expensive, tax-laden estates.) A Brit actor with a solid comic reputation plays the lawyer who keeps blandly, pleasantly, pointing out these advantages.

 

The husband excuses himself, goes to a phone and calls the wife. She confirms that, yes, that request has her support. He politely ends the conversation, and hangs up. At her end of the line, she puts the phone back in the cradle, turns to her friends and says, "Oh, dear."

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The cuckold nobleman again confronts the negotiating attorney and informs him:

 

1. There will be no divorce. There are no grounds to ask for a divorce. There was a minor child present at all phases of the farce in Brighton; they will fail if they try to set up a divorce on that alleged infidelity. (The prospect of a divorce based on her behavior is left open.)

 

2. He is going abroad for an indefinite period, having decided to accompany a new friend he recently met who is mounting an exploring expedition to South America.

 

3. When he returns, Lady B_____ can re-visit the idea of divorce if she likes. It will involve no support settlement whatsoever.

 

----In the following period, he equips himself and sets off on his New World adventure. His legal arrangements, as it turns out, dictate that his fortune, title and land will go to relatives who he knows will preserve and perpetrate the estate.

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...just past 200 Views...

 

The wife, the one I referred to as "Lady B___" earlier -- This was early in her career, and she has had a distinguished career since. The Peerage List husband -- less well known to American audiences. A woman I would call an 'American Film Aristocrat' portrays a sympathetic (to the husband) American guest who arrives at the estate piloting her own biplane. A sinister character not yet mentioned is portrayed by an Oscar winner with an honored career and a Knighthood.

 

Time passes after the husband's departure, and he disappears into the jungles of Brazil ("or it could be Dutch New Guenna; the demarcation aren't always clear"). Lady B____ can no longer maintain her lover, and he goes off with his mother to California to try out the rich American marrage market. Eventually, they are given reason to declare the departed husband deceased. That is not the case, but it becomes the legal fact. Lady B____ is last seen being given a ride away from the ceremony where a monument to the departed (proposed and erected by the lover's enterprising mother) has been dedicated. *

 

*...BTW, the current (as of filming) Duke of Norfolk allowed his Sussex estate be used in the country location scenes. The Duke himself has a brief appearance as one of the locals who greet the American avirix.

 

Edited by: flashback42 on Jul 27, 2012 8:31 AM

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This story is sourced from a 1930s novel by a writer who had some axes to grind. The declining aristocracy. The rising mercantile class (i.e. the lover's mum). The legal profession. All got their lumps in this tale. Her Ladyship's dalliance was in line with the theme of this thread, but it veers off somewhat with the husband's story.

 

The explorer who took the husband into the Amazon jungle was more scholar than a man of action. -- Mr. Chips, not Indy Jones. They are flimflammed, abandoned and robbed by the native guides. They succumb to illness. The explorer dies going over a waterfall when he tries to go for help.

 

The story of the husband's South American adventures was lifted out of the novel, edited slightly and published separately in an anthology of horror stories. He is found, sick and delirious, by some local tribesmen, who take him to their village. The headman there is an aging but powerful leader who is popular with his subjects -- and father and grandfather to many of them. He takes control of the sick man's life, gets him well and then puts him to use for purposes of his own. When others come looking for the visitor, the headman is warned ahead of time. The captive is drugged; he sleeps for several days. On waking up, he is told how the visitors came, and were given his watch, and were told that he had died.

No one will come looking for him. The headman has a use for him.

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More about the cast:

The attorney who made the property - settlement proposal. -- Multitalent. Actor-writer-director who has worked on other projects stemming from this novelist's works. Wilde. Jeeves.

 

The lover's resourceful and upscale-income businesswoman mum. -- Long career in such varied roles as middle-class matron, spymaster, Royal personage. Brit TV series star. And she's a Dame.

 

Full giveaway, perhaps: The short horror story made from the South America section of the novel was entitled The Man Who Liked Dickens.

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Correct at just over 360 Views, Sixes. Young Kristin Scott-Thomas as Lady Brinda, James Wilby as Lord Tony, Dame Judi Dench as the busy businesswoman, Anjelica Huston as the American friend, Stephen Fry as the manipulative lawyer. Sir Alec Guinness was the crafty (but illiterate) half-breed who enslaved Tony and kept him hopeless to read for him, over and over for years, the novels of Charles Dickens.

 

BTW, what was the clue that got you to the answer? I really thought this story was fairly well known. Would *Brideshead Revisited* have been easier to spot?

 

mr6666's thread.

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