Lady Caroline Lamb (1972)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Biopic [feature], Melodrama, Period Film, Romantic Drama  |   Run Time - 118 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom, United States  |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Craig Butler

The real story of the affair between Lady Caroline Lamb and Lord Byron is one that is filled with passion, intrigue and revenge, so it's amazing that Robert Bolt's screen version is so unrelentingly dull. Bolt has a fondness for period and/or historical pieces, so one assumes that he knew the actual story but felt that the nonsense that he fabricated was somehow better and more dramatic. He was seriously mistaken on both counts, and as a result a potentially fascinating movie is instead rather deadly. It's not without some assets. The physical production, for example, is quite lovely, with the kind of sets and costumes that one appreciates and longs for when thinking of English period films. Richard Rodney Bennett's score is also rather special, and there are some far-too-supporting performances from Ralph Richardson and Laurence Olivier that are pleasing. But Bolt's screenplay is a mess, and his direction is lifeless. In the title role, Sarah Miles scrambles madly around, trying to find a way to play the part so that it comes across as interesting but succeeding only in seeming somewhat schizophrenic. Jon Finch manages to find some moments in the latter part of the movie that he can act, but he is left with too little to work with in the early parts. And while Richard Chamberlain's Byron is certainly interesting, it's also a trifle bizarre.