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Three Men in a Boat (1975)

One hot June day, three friends decide there is nothing they would like to do more than to get away from London. A boating holiday with lots of fresh air and exercise would be just the very... See full summary »

Director:

Stephen Frears

Writers:

Jerome K. Jerome (novel), Tom Stoppard
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Tim Curry ... Jerome
Michael Palin ... Harris
Stephen Moore Stephen Moore ... George
Bill Stewart Bill Stewart ... 1st Porter
Michael Elphick ... 2nd Porter
John Blain John Blain ... Traffic Supervisor
George Innes ... Train Driver
Russell Dixon Russell Dixon ... Harris's Cousin
Mary MacLeod Mary MacLeod ... Pathetic Woman
Alan Collins Alan Collins ... Desolate Man
Clifford Kershaw Clifford Kershaw ... Irate Man
Eileen Helsby Eileen Helsby ... Woman with baby
Tony Rohr ... Blackmailer
Hubert Tucker Hubert Tucker ... 1st Lock-keeper
Harry Markham Harry Markham ... 2nd Lock-keeper
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Storyline

One hot June day, three friends decide there is nothing they would like to do more than to get away from London. A boating holiday with lots of fresh air and exercise would be just the very thing, or so their doctors tell them. So, after debating the merits of hotel or camp beds and what to pack, they set off on their voyage - a trip up the Thames from Henley to Oxford - but very quickly find themselves ill-equipped for the trials of riverbank life. Written by Dabby

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Plot Keywords:

based on novel | See All (1) »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Certificate:

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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

31 December 1975 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Drei Mann in einem Boot See more »

Filming Locations:

London, England, UK See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Tom Stoppard had never read Jerome K. Jerome's famous novel when he was asked to adapt it for this TV movie. He claimed that this was actually a help, as "I didn't know which bits were supposed to be funny". See more »

Quotes

Jerome: Maidenhead itself is too snobby to be pleasant. It is the haunt of the river swell and his overdressed female companion. It is the town of showy hotels, patronised chiefly by dudes and ballet girls. It is the witch's kitchen from which go forth those demons of the river-steam-launches.
See more »

Connections

Version of Drei Mann in einem Boot (1961) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Disappointing
30 March 2007 | by trimmerb1234See all my reviews

This has promising ingredients: adaptation by brilliant intellectual British word-smith Stoppard, undoubted star Tim Curry, Monty Python funny-man and a perfect period look.

The book itself is a both a comedy and gentle satire about the lives of the comfortably off middle-class Edwardian Southern English written around the same time as Wind in the Willows and conjuring up that same aura of innocent pleasures on the river. It was a satire rooted in a specific golden period shortly before WW1 ended innocence for ever.

Three friends, middle-class and comfortably off, who lead comfortable lives yet somehow come to convince themselves that they are ill, overworked and in desperate need of a relaxing holiday. Fatefully they choose a particularly complicated holiday in a camping skiff on The Thames. The preparation for this they, in their different ways, pursue with the same tail-wagging enthusiasm and general lack of forethought as their pet dog companion Montmorency. What results is a mixture of mischance leading inevitability to both comic disaster and moments of rare good fortune. It was for its readers a believable but comic version of the real minor misfortunes which could befall three male companions on such a camping holiday. In tone it resembles another Edwardian comic classic book "Diary of a Nobody" by George and Weedon Grosmith.

This production, though it shows consistent evidence of Stoppart's cleverness, just doesn't gel, is rather monotonous in tone and only entertains when it reproduces scenes from the book. This lack of clarity of concept is reflected in the disastrous casting. A mugging Michael Palin is uncomfortably placed between two talented and subtle actors. Tim Curry's character is clever - too clever - and morbidly droll indeed it is rather as if Stoppard himself had joined the trio - and having a comic-deadening effect on the proceedings.

The three characters in the book were neither idiots nor particularly smart. They were simply a bit spoilt, a bit naive and rather bored by work and their lives. The story is about how with an excess of enthusiasm - and deficit of thought - adults can make themselves appear ridiculous; ridiculous comic things can occur - in short, everything necessary to make a fondly long-remembered holiday.

And this was very much the character of the 1955 film version with the late and great David Tomlinson, Lawrence Harvey and Jimmy Edwards. Broad, never witty but entertaining I'd recommend the film version not this one. For work of comic genius the classic French film comedy "Monsieur Hulot's Holiday" is both hilarious and human.

Works of comic genius are first and foremost comic - the genius is subtle and hidden. David Tomlinson invariably played a bit of a buffoon but hidden behind this was a self-effacing genius. Here as in his plays Stoppard makes his cleverness the talking point, he wears his art on his sleeve. But like the three men in the boat, the audience had instead set out in search of simple relaxation and fun.


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