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White Mischief (1987)

White Mischief (1987)

Sarah MilesJoss AcklandGreta ScacchiCharles Dance
Michael Radford


White Mischief (1987) is a English movie. Michael Radford has directed this movie. Sarah Miles,Joss Ackland,Greta Scacchi,Charles Dance are the starring of this movie. It was released in 1987. White Mischief (1987) is considered one of the best Crime,Drama,Mystery,Romance,Thriller movie in India and around the world.

A millionaire past his prime, and his young wife, arrive in Kenya circa 1940 to find that the other affluent British expatriates are living large, as the homefront gears up for war. They are busy swapping partners, doing drugs, and attending lavish parties and horse races. She begins a torrid affair with one of the bon vivants, and her husband finds out and confronts them. The husband and wife decide to break up peacefully, but the bon vivant is murdered, and all the evidence points to the husband.


White Mischief (1987) Reviews

  • An Evocation, not a Reconstruction (Possible SPOILER)


    Adapted from James Fox's non-fiction book of the same name, 'White Mischief' recounts the mystery of the murder of Scottish aristocrat and noted philanderer Josslyn Hay, 22nd Earl of Erroll in Kenya in 1941. The husband of one of his conquests, Sir 'Jock' Delves Broughton, was tried for the murder, but acquitted. While the book is really an example of investigatory, not to say obsessive, journalism on the part of Fox and his mentor at the Sunday Times, Cyril Connolly, Michael Radford's film is more evocative of time and place. Most colonial history has the rejects of the imperial society setting out to the colonies to better themselves, but Kenya between 1900 and 1940 proved a rare exception when a significant number of wealthy aristocratic English moved to the 'White Highlands' to settle. Others were found to do the actual work of ranching or coffee-growing and there was little for the rich to do except be idle. So grew the legend of the 'Happy Valley ' set, where drugs and alcohol fuelled continuous debauchery. By the time the events covered in this movie occurred, the 'Happy Valley' period was pretty well over with several of the leading lights having succumbed to the rigours of the lifestyle. But Erroll (Charles Dance, charming) a veteran of the Valley is still surrounded by admiring women and has little trouble attracting Diana Broughton (Greta Scaachi, sizzling) when she arrives in 1940 from England to escape the war. Her husband Sir Jock (Joss Ackland, his best performance ever), 30 years older, knows Diana married him for money and security. She knows Erroll is broke but thinks Jock will pay her off. What she doesn't know is that Jock, through bad luck and mismanagement, has lost most of his considerable fortune (he once owned a good slice of Cheshire) and looks like losing the rest. (The film does not mention that the real Sir Jock had by 1940 committed serious fraud on at least two occasions to get himself out of financial difficulty). In the film, Jock takes a while to realise what is going on, and then appears to accept the situation, even hosting a dinner at the Muthaiga Club in honour of the happy adulterous couple. Next morning Erroll is found shot dead in his car a couple of miles from the Broughton's house in suburban Nairobi. The case against Jock is not strong, and not carefully put together. He is represented by a first-rate South African trial lawyer, Harry Morris (Ray McAnally, in an uncharacteristically weak performance), who has little trouble evoking the sympathy of an all-white settlor jury. The aftermath, for evident artistic reasons, is altered for the film, but the sense of it is still there. Within a short time Jock is dead, and Diana marries the eccentric Gilbert Colville (John Hurt, convincing), who is the biggest rancher in the colony. The last scene, where Diana comes across a cocktail party being held in a graveyard on the shores of Lake Naivasha at the request of one of the deceased, an alumni of Happy Valley, is quite surreal, and somehow captures the evanescence of it all, the fleeting moment between birth and death we call life. This part of Africa is sometimes said to be the Garden of Eden, the paradisaical place where mankind originated, and it's a truly beautiful place, but it's also clear the serpents were there all along. Since this movie was made, a new theory about Erroll's death has emerged; that he was done to death by the British Security services as it was thought his fascist sympathies would make him likely to pass intelligence to the Italians (Erroll was a deskbound officer in the army). A lady called Eroll Trzebinski, resident in Kenya for 30 years, published a book 'The Life and Death of Lord Erroll' in 1999. Ms Trzebinski has written three other books including a well-received biography of Karen Blixen's lover Dennys Finch-Hatton. Well, I suppose it's no less credible than the theory Diana did it. PS Another version of the story is told by Julian Fellowes in his "Most Mysterious Murder " TV series (2005). It's not a patch on this one but pretty convincingly identifies Jock as the culprit, with Diana accessory after the fact.

  • Pills, Booze, Swinging, Cross-Dressing and other activities in World War II Africa


    A wild and wicked romp through the expatriate community around Nairobi, Kenya, during World War II. Greta Scacchi is radiant beyond mortal words as the femme fatale that upsets the not-so-delicate social, sexual, psychosexual balances of the "happy valley" crowd of faded British aristocrats and other late-era colonials. The steller cast, including Charles Dance in a terrific romantic lead, an over-the-top Sarah Miles, Joss Ackland in his best role, John Hurt, Trevor Howard, Geraldine Chaplin, even a young Hugh Grant, and so many others, is absolutely superb. Set against the spectacular backdrop of East Africa, this movie is a tale of love, lust, revenge, and destruction, and expertly captures the look and feel of the waning British colonial era in its dialogue, costumes, even music. An absolute treat!

  • Strange, decadent, and worthwhile


    Based on the book by James Fox (not the handsome English actor of a certain age) this film remains hard to pin down: it's part murder mystery, part sociological study, part history of pre-WW2 East African colonialism, part romance, part dionysian orgy (really), part Evelyn Waugh/Somerset Maughm, part romance, part.... etc. etc. And it's all true. Yes, the actors are more spectacular looking than their real life counterparts (particularly Scacchi, seldom more stunning.) Sarah Miles' strange character wafts through as most memorable of all in a rich ensemble set of louche decadents. (And yet the actress in real life admitted she may not have gotten a handle on the real woman, just an impression. Based upon my reading of Fox's and Trzebinski's books' accounts on the Alice de Janze, I'd have to agree. Nothing like her except the memorable quips and woozy flair.) Plus, most folks who didn't swim through the primo decadence of the 1960's firsthand might be appalled at what passes for entertainment in British colonial East Africa of the 1930'/40s. But what you'll get for your treasure hunt (this is a hard film to find) is the truth of a murder mystery, weird but real characters, a slice of history, all against the gorgeous panoply of Kenya, despite all its troubles one of the most beautiful spots on the entire planet, all shot on location right where the real events unfolded.

  • What a treat !!


    The only thing that keeps me from giving this a 10, is the hit and miss score. There are moments when the music is completely wrong for what is going on. That said, the storyline is not new, in fact it is based on an actual incident. What makes it so entertaining is it's cast, their lines,beautiful wardrobes and the different "mischief" they nearly all take part in. Drugs,booze,polo, parties, mate swapping (and stealing), and eventually murder, has rarely looked so delicious on screen. There are moments here that should stick in your memory for years to come. One such scene involves Sarah Miles and her special way of saying goodbye to a dear departed. It's a shame that this Michael Radford gem is evidently out of print. Should you be lucky enough to find it to rent, I strongly recommend you having on hand a fine Port and some chocolate lobster!

  • White Mischief


    As a family member, related to the main character, Sir Jock obviously for myself, it was a very interesting piece to watch, having grown up with full knowledge of the story in its entirety. It was fairly accurate, although, typically, like any Hollywood film, some artistic licenses were granted. In fact, in real life, Sir Jock, a typical aristocrat of his time, had been in other troubles before, such as insurance fraud, and to this day I am somewhat surprised even with his titles, money, etc, he actually got away with this crime, for everyone strongly feels he did do it. "The Sixth Earl of Carnarvon, Lord Porchester, was a close friend of Sir Delves, and a horse-racing jockey. Upon hearing of Jock's acquittal, he sent the famous cable: 'HEARTY CONGRATULATIONS UNDERSTAND YOU WON A NECK CLEVERLY REGARDS PORCHEY'. " I loved the film, loved the decadence, and from what I have been told, this was all very typical of its time in Happy Valley Kenya. I gather both the Queen, as well as Bill Wyman from the Rolling Stones, each called it their favorite film for that year. Anyone especially familiar with British life, humor, etc, would find this most interesting. SHELAGH DELVES BROUGHTON


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