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Stiff Upper Lips (1997)

Cast: Peter Ustinov, Peter Ustinov, Prunella Scales, more...
Director: Gary Sinyor, Gary Sinyor
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: Miramax
Genre: Comedies, Foreign, British Comedy, Parodies, Dysfunctional Families, UK
Running Time: 87 min.
Subtitles: English
    see additional details...

This 5.7-million-dollar British comedy from writer/director Gary Sinyor satirizes the now-familiar Merchant-Ivory style of period dramas. So no one will miss the joke, the central setting is Ivory Hall, the Ivory family mansion in rural England. In 1908, young twit Edward Ivory (Samuel West) plans to match his bookwormish friend Cedric (Robert Portal) with his 22-year-old sister, Emily (Georgina Cates), and introduces the two at Ivory Hall. However, Emily is instead attracted to gamekeeper George (Sean Pertwee), the son of a peasant (Brian Glover). Emily's aunt Agnes Ivory (Prunella Scales), in favor of Cedric, suggests an Enchanted April-type excursion to Italy with George along as a servant. Eventually, Emily and George become a couple, but class differences are a barrier. When Aunt Agnes becomes bored with Italy and yearns to go "somewhere more English," the vacation party is off to India, where Agnes has her own romantic encounter with lecherous tea-planter Horace (Peter Ustinov). Other short satirical send-ups recall Chariots of Fire, Brideshead Revisited, Upstairs, Downstairs, The Shining, and Gandhi, while humorous references also are heard in the soundtrack of classical excerpts. Stiff Upper Lips was shown at the 1997 London Film Festival. ~ Bhob Stewart, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Ripping good yarn, terribly amusing by underdog July 16, 2003 - 1:26 PM PDT
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful
"I want my sexual awakening and I want it now!" Erratic but often highly amusing spoof of Merchant-Ivory films (not to mention Chariots of Fire and others) nails all the stereotypes not just of these period pieces but of the British in general (not to mention Americans, Indians, and Italians). Prunella Scales (Sybill, the exasperated wife on Fawlty Towers) is perfect as the (exasperated but eventually liberated) aunt desperate to marry her daughter (the very Helena Bonham Carter-ish Georgina Cates). Meanwhile there is her nephew and his friend, both highly, uh, closeted, and the very old school (except when it comes to sex) plantation owner, played by the wonderful, and recently sadly underutilized Peter Ustinov, no stranger himself to the sorts of films being lampooned here. As with any parody, some of the jokes are ra-thah silly or fall a bit flat, but many others, both visual and verbal, hit their intended targets. Works best if you've seen A Passage to India and other films of that ilk, but either way you'll laugh (and blush for laughing).

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 5.50)
14 Votes
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