Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)

Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)
Oh, to be in England...

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Dean Spanley - Jeremy Northam, Peter O'Toole, Sam Neill and reincarnation of dogs!

Dean Spanley Poster starring Jeremy Northam, Sam Neill and Peter O'Toole
My husband (the Squire) went to the video store last week and asked them for "That Edwardian film about the guy who thinks he is a dog".  He was handed Wolfman by a girl at Blockbuster who couldn't have been more than 17.  He finally gave up and came home with Hot Tub Time Machine! So of course, I just ordered it for myself from Amazon (along with The Impressionists, which I will review later). He's a good man to try to rent it for me however.

Dean Spanley is a little sleeper of a film that will warm your heart on a cold winter night. Based on a 1936 novella by Lord Dunsany, the Edwardian setting will appeal to all who are in Downton Abbey withdrawal. Peter O'Toole and Jeremy Northam play a father and son who don't quite see eye to eye, especially on the subject of the loss of two family members. Jeremy Northam narrates this in his mellifluous Mr. Knightley voice and although the film starts slowly, it is a lovely build up to a heart warming conclusion.

Sam Neill as Dean Spanley
Sam Neill, in the title role, plays a quirky clergyman with an unusual interest in dogs and a real hatred for cats and pigs.  Jeremy Northam's character, Henslowe Fisk, is sufficiently intrigued with the Dean to tempt him to dinner with his favourite Hungarian wine (Imperial Tokay).  A few small glasses of this rare wine brings out recollections of a past life (as a Welsh Spaniel!) in the Dean.  Sam Neill is a hoot to watch as he is transported by the wine.

Jeremy Northam and Peter O'Toole as the Fisks in Dean Spanley
Peter O'Toole gives a masterful performance as the crusty but gradually softening Horatio Fisk, as only a classic British actor of his generation could do.  Supporting roles by Judy Parfitt as the housekeeper/cook and Aussie Bryan Brown as the conveyancer who helps obtain the Tokay provide some comic relief.  And the dogs in this film will steal your heart.

So if you have ever truly loved a dog, and have a weakness for well done period drama, this film will also steal your heart.  Our local Blockbuster actually had 2 copies but it is mine now! I think I may watch it again this week...


  1. I've been wanting to see that one!! When I didn't hear much buzz about it, worried that it wasn't very good. I loved the trailer, love the cast and now that you've given it a thumbs up will definitely put it on my list to watch! Thanks!

  2. You'll love this one Cheryl. I actually stumbled across this one as it wasn't well publicized. Let me know what you think when you see it.

  3. I love all those actors, but I have to confess that I thought Peter O'Toole had died!

  4. Apparently, he is still kicking. The reports of his death have been extremely exaggerated.

    Unfortunately, he has had some plastic surgery, which made him look a bit like Michael Jackson!

    I thought the British actors didn't mind aging but I suppose vanity knows no boundaries.




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