6.4/10
583
14 user 3 critic

American Friends (1991)

PG | | Comedy, Drama | April 1993 (USA)
Francis Ashby, a senior Oxford don on holiday alone in the Alps, meets holidaying American Caroline and her companion Elinor, the blossoming Irish-American girl she adopted many years ... See full summary »

Director:

Tristram Powell

Writers:

Michael Palin (story), Michael Palin (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Bryan Pringle ... Haskell
Fred Pearson ... Hapgood
Michael Palin ... Reverend Francis Ashby
Alfred Molina ... Oliver Syme
Susan Denaker ... Mrs. Cantrell
Jonathan Firth ... Cable
Ian Dunn ... Gowers
Robert Eddison ... Rushden - The President
David Calder ... Pollitt
Simon Jones ... Anderson
Charles McKeown ... Maynard
Roger Lloyd Pack ... Dr. Butler (as Roger Lloyd-Pack)
John Nettleton ... Groves
Trini Alvarado ... Miss Elinor Hartley
Connie Booth ... Miss Caroline Hartley
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Storyline

Francis Ashby, a senior Oxford don on holiday alone in the Alps, meets holidaying American Caroline and her companion Elinor, the blossoming Irish-American girl she adopted many years before. Ashby finds he enjoys their company, particularly that of Elinor, and both the women are drawn to him. Back at Oxford he is nevertheless taken aback when they arrive unannounced. Women are not allowed in the College grounds, let alone the rooms. Indeed any liaison, however innocent, is frowned on by the upstanding Fellows. Written by Jeremy Perkins {J-26}

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Education in love

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for some mild language and sensuality | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

April 1993 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Amerikai barátok See more »

Filming Locations:

Kanton Wallis, Switzerland See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$5,334, 11 April 1993

Gross USA:

$23,034

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$23,034
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Michael Palin says that the plot was taken from a real-life incident involving his great-grandfather. See more »

Soundtracks

Schumann Lieder [Opus 25]
By Robert Schumann
Sung by Susan Denaker
See more »

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User Reviews

A sensitive and well-judged period drama from Palin
30 July 2004 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

Rev Francis Ashby is a bookish and retiring don at Oxford who reluctantly gives in to his colleagues insistences that he go for a holiday. Enjoying the peace and quiet in the Alps he is initially disturbed by the arrival of a group including an American woman (Caroline) and her teenager ward (Elinor). However, acting as their guide when the rest of the group returns to the lodgings, Ashby starts to fall for the darling Elinor but, after slight bonding, he is called back immediately due to the failing health of the college president. When his American friends come to Oxford to visit, their arrival throws the college into a tizzy and he finds himself in competition with others for not only the role of president but also for the hearts of his friends.

Watching this film for the third time since its release in the early nineties I decided to review it and, looking at the title page was astonished (yes, really) to see that only 106 people have voted on it. I know this is not a total representation of how many people have actually seen it but I was surprised how such a well-known film appears to be underseen (although it may say more about the demographics of those that use this site most). This is not to imply that it is an excellent film but it is a well paced film that is enjoyable on its own terms. For those expecting great sentiment you will be let down, likewise those expecting a Merchant Ivory film, or a very comic film but those open to a nicely sensitive little tale that is slightly comic but more enjoyable for being restraining and being very true to the Englishness of its subjects and the polite behaviour of the period.

Based on his own grandfather's diaries, Palin has done a good job as both writer and director to capture the period and deal with the subject in a way that is unshowy but not stale, sensitive and patient but never dull and comic without ever being so crude as to actually make you laugh out loud. It isn't fantastic of course but it is nicely lowkey and it is enjoyable for what it is. As actor Palin continues this good work and he delivers a very restrained and shy performance – even more amazing when you think this is a Python! Booth and Alvarado are both very attractive and restrained at the same time and effective if not memorable. Molina, currently playing a superhero baddie, plays a 'baddie' of another sort here and he pitches his character well to be dastardly while still keeping within the period. Support from Jones, Firth, Eddison and others is good and they all keep to the period and the material yet.

Overall this is not an amazing film or even a really good one, but what it is is a well written period drama that is delivered well enough to prevent it being dull and it comes over as a nice little film that is pleasing to watch even if it never sets the screen on fire. An undervalued little drama that is a well handled, very personal film from Palin who does very well in all three of his roles.


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