Lady Caroline Lamb (1973)

PG | 122-123 or 127-128 mins | Drama | February 1973

Director:

Robert Bolt

Writer:

Robert Bolt

Producer:

Fernando Ghia

Cinematographer:

Oswald Morris

Editor:

Norman Savage

Production Designer:

Carmen Dillon

Production Companies:

Pulsar Productions Ltd., Vides Cinematografica SaS, Tomorrow Entertainment, Inc.
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HISTORY

The working title of the film was Lamb . Robert Bolt’s onscreen credit reads: “Written and directed by Robert Bolt.” Lady Caroline Lamb was the first production of Tomorrow Entertainment, Inc., a subsidiary of the General Electric Company. According to a Var 1971 article, the picture was a co-production with London’s Pulsar productions and Rome’s Vides budgeted at $4,000,000. The film marked the sole directorial effort of longtime screenwriter Bolt, who was married to star Sarah Miles at the time [the couple, married in 1967, divorced in 1976, then remarried in 1988 and remained so until Bolt’s death in 1995]. Lady Caroline Lamb marked the final feature film appearance of Michael Wilding (1912--1979), who was married to co-star Margaret Leighton. As stated in the end credits, Lady Caroline Lamb was shot at Pinewood Studios and on location in England and Italy.
       Most reviews of the film were critical of the liberties taken with the historical aspects of the relationship between Lady Caroline Lamb(1785—1828) and famed poet Lord George Gordon Byron (1788—1824), which caused a well-known scandal in nineteenth century England. The principle observation was that William Lamb and Lady Caroline had had two children by the time of her very public involvement with Byron in 1812 and that Lady Caroline had been rumored to have had several tempestuous affairs prior to that with Byron. Another critical detail omitted from the film was the mention of Caroline’s successful novel Glenarvon (published in 1816), said to present a thinly veiled portrait of Byron and other easily identifiable social figures of the day. ... More Less

The working title of the film was Lamb . Robert Bolt’s onscreen credit reads: “Written and directed by Robert Bolt.” Lady Caroline Lamb was the first production of Tomorrow Entertainment, Inc., a subsidiary of the General Electric Company. According to a Var 1971 article, the picture was a co-production with London’s Pulsar productions and Rome’s Vides budgeted at $4,000,000. The film marked the sole directorial effort of longtime screenwriter Bolt, who was married to star Sarah Miles at the time [the couple, married in 1967, divorced in 1976, then remarried in 1988 and remained so until Bolt’s death in 1995]. Lady Caroline Lamb marked the final feature film appearance of Michael Wilding (1912--1979), who was married to co-star Margaret Leighton. As stated in the end credits, Lady Caroline Lamb was shot at Pinewood Studios and on location in England and Italy.
       Most reviews of the film were critical of the liberties taken with the historical aspects of the relationship between Lady Caroline Lamb(1785—1828) and famed poet Lord George Gordon Byron (1788—1824), which caused a well-known scandal in nineteenth century England. The principle observation was that William Lamb and Lady Caroline had had two children by the time of her very public involvement with Byron in 1812 and that Lady Caroline had been rumored to have had several tempestuous affairs prior to that with Byron. Another critical detail omitted from the film was the mention of Caroline’s successful novel Glenarvon (published in 1816), said to present a thinly veiled portrait of Byron and other easily identifiable social figures of the day. It was the novel's publication rather than Lady Caroline's relationship with Byron that caused her to be scorned by upper class society. The film also does not make direct mention that Byron married William Lamb’s cousin Anne Isabella "Annabella" Milbanke, although the union just over a year. William and Lady Caroline Lamb did not separate until she was forty and never formally divorced. Lady Melbourne, William’s mother, died ten years prior to Caroline’s death, which, as one critic noted, occurred “undramatically in bed.” Modern sources add the following to the cast: Joyce Carey, Preston Lockwood, John Rapley, Ivor Salter and Larry Taylor. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
12 Feb 1973
p. 4563.
Daily Variety
15 Dec 1971.
---
Filmfacts
1973
pp. 180-83.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Oct 1971
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Dec 1971
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Feb 1973
p. 4, 11.
Los Angeles Herald Examiner
1 Mar 1973.
---
Los Angeles Times
26 Feb 1973.
---
Motion Picture Herald
10 Feb 1973.
---
New York Times
12 Feb 1973
p. 24.
Variety
15 Dec 1971.
---
Variety
29 Nov 1973
p. 26.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Franco Cristaldi-Fernando Ghia Production
A Robert Bolt-Franco Cristaldi-Fernando Ghia Picture
A Robert Bolt-Franco Cristaldi-Fernando Ghia Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
2d unit cam
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Asst art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Assembly ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dresser
Const mgr
COSTUMES
Cost des
Ward supv
MUSIC
Mus played by
solo viola with the New Philharmonia Orchestra
New Philharmonia Orchestra cond
SOUND
Sd ed
Dubbing mixer
DANCE
Dance movement by
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Loc mgr
Prod secy
Casting
Prod accountant
Unit pub
STAND INS
Fight arr
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Lamb
Release Date:
February 1973
Premiere Information:
World premiere in London: November 1972
New York opening: 11 February 1973
Los Angeles opening: 25 February 1973
Production Date:
late September--late December 1971 at Pinewood Studios, Iver Heath, England and Italy
Copyright Claimants:
Tomorrow Entertainment, Inc. Pulsar Productions, Inc.
Copyright Dates:
21 November 1972 21 November 1972
Copyright Numbers:
LP41658 LP41658
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Eastman Color
Widescreen/ratio
Panavision
Duration(in mins):
122-123 or 127-128
MPAA Rating:
PG
Countries:
United Kingdom, Italy, United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In early 19th-century England, vibrant young Caroline Ponsonby accepts the marriage proposal of up-and-coming MP William Lamb, despite strong objections by William’s haughty mother, Lady Melbourne. Critical of Caroline’s mother for the indiscretions of her past amorous affairs, Lady Melbourne warns her son that the marriage will be unhappy and pities him when he admits that he is in love. William takes Caroline to Italy for their honeymoon and although Caroline’s high-spirited nature causes mild concern among the upper class social circles that they frequent, William is content. One evening in Rome, Caroline insists they stop at the darkened Coliseum in which she imagines the dramas of its ancient past. When the Lambs’ coachman, Antonio, warns them that several beggars have gathered outside the Coliseum, Caroline impulsively requests they be allowed inside. Although shocked by the tattered, dirty crowd that quickly gathers, Caroline is angered by what she considers William’s stingy offering of a few coins. Recklessly, Caroline hurls her diamond bracelet to the mob and is horrified when, moments later, she finds the ragged man who caught the jewelry beaten to death outside. Returning to London for the opening of Parliament, William resumes his seat and, upon making a strong argument against a Whig amendment, comes to the attention of Tory leader George Canning. One afternoon Caroline, escorted by young acquaintances Harry St. John and James Buckham, drive to a park where they watch a series of public boxing matches. Impressed by one handsome young man’s sly defeat of the prevailing winner, Caroline asks to meet him. Although the young man, Lord George Byron, is bitterly sensitive about ... +


In early 19th-century England, vibrant young Caroline Ponsonby accepts the marriage proposal of up-and-coming MP William Lamb, despite strong objections by William’s haughty mother, Lady Melbourne. Critical of Caroline’s mother for the indiscretions of her past amorous affairs, Lady Melbourne warns her son that the marriage will be unhappy and pities him when he admits that he is in love. William takes Caroline to Italy for their honeymoon and although Caroline’s high-spirited nature causes mild concern among the upper class social circles that they frequent, William is content. One evening in Rome, Caroline insists they stop at the darkened Coliseum in which she imagines the dramas of its ancient past. When the Lambs’ coachman, Antonio, warns them that several beggars have gathered outside the Coliseum, Caroline impulsively requests they be allowed inside. Although shocked by the tattered, dirty crowd that quickly gathers, Caroline is angered by what she considers William’s stingy offering of a few coins. Recklessly, Caroline hurls her diamond bracelet to the mob and is horrified when, moments later, she finds the ragged man who caught the jewelry beaten to death outside. Returning to London for the opening of Parliament, William resumes his seat and, upon making a strong argument against a Whig amendment, comes to the attention of Tory leader George Canning. One afternoon Caroline, escorted by young acquaintances Harry St. John and James Buckham, drive to a park where they watch a series of public boxing matches. Impressed by one handsome young man’s sly defeat of the prevailing winner, Caroline asks to meet him. Although the young man, Lord George Byron, is bitterly sensitive about his impoverished state, he nevertheless accepts Caroline’s invitation to dinner. Later, made curious by Byron’s resentful yet ambitious attitude, Caroline agrees to accompany him to his apartment where she discovers a series of poems he has written. Declaring that he has worked on his latest piece for more than two years with no guarantee of publication, Byron nevertheless proudly refuses Caroline’s offer to buy the poem. Soon after meeting Caroline, Byron’s first poem is printed and when it proves enormously popular with the public, the writer negotiates a beneficial contract with the publishing house. Invited soon after to a ball given by the socially prominent Lord and Lady Holland, Byron purposely makes a late entrance only to abandon the fawning crowd when he spots Caroline. Miffed when Caroline stalks away from him, Byron pursues her to a greenhouse where she accuses him of blatantly scandalous behavior. Admitting that she is frightened of the new freedom and authority he has acquired since his success, Caroline is nevertheless unable to resist Byron’s seduction, and the two become lovers. Upon returning home to William the next day, Caroline confesses that she has fallen in love with Byron. Dismissing her comparison of his poetry with the writings of the esteemed 18th century poet Alexander Pope, William asks Caroline if she can conduct the affair with discretion, but she insists true love can never be discrete. Over the next several weeks, Caroline makes her obsession with Byron increasingly obvious in public, which, when witnessed by Lady Melbourne, reaches William’s notice. Dispirited, William’s mood begins affecting his work in Parliament. Unwilling to curtail her public display of devotion to Byron, Caroline, dressed as a Nubian slave, heedlessly attends a costume ball with him and is stunned when the revelers treat her risqué attire with derision. Shocked when Byron asks for an introduction to the attractive young Miss Isabella Milbanke, Caroline makes a scene, but when Byron refuses to accede to her demand to leave, Caroline is forced to depart alone to the laughter of the guests. After Lady Melbourne relates the incident to William and remarks confidently that she is certain Byron will take up with Miss Milbanke, William defends his wife’s behavior as being prompted by her certainty that she is in love. Shortly after the costume ball, Byron enrages Caroline by informing her that he wishes to escort Miss Milbanke to a dinner at the home of the Duke of Wellington. Learning that the vainglorious Byron has arranged a fancy carriage with page escorts running alongside carrying torches to take him and Miss Milbanke to the dinner, Caroline disguises herself as one of the pages, convinced her impudence will amuse Byron and win back his affections. Upon arriving at Wellington’s stately home, however, Byron recognizes Caroline, and when she calls out her love for him, he dismisses her as ridiculous. Shattered by the rejection, Caroline forces her way into the dining room where in front of Byron she declares love is not ridiculous and slashes her wrists. Three months later, William and Canning have an audience with King George IV, who, sympathetic to the loss of William’s reputation at the hands of his wife, offers him the post of First Secretary to Ireland. After William reveals that Caroline has not spoken since her suicide attempt, the king admits that Lady Melbourne related her hope that her son would seek a divorce. Incensed to realize that his mother has arranged the new posting with the king, her former lover, William refuses the offer. Upon departing the court, Canning frankly advises William to choose between his career and Caroline. Returning home, William confronts his mute and haggard wife, declaring that he will not forgive her if she is feigning her illness. Sputtering that she has been too ashamed to speak, Caroline embraces William and the couple is reconciled. To Lady Melbourne’s dismay, William withdraws from Parliament and spends the next several weeks tending to Caroline, who gradually recovers from her emotional trauma. One day, while William is absent, Lady Melbourne confronts Caroline to accuse her of wrecking William’s career. When Caroline maintains that she has associates in high places, including the king, who will help William, Lady Melbourne reveals the Ireland posting was stipulated on William’s divorcing Caroline. Angrily recognizing Lady Melbourne’s influence with the king, Caroline impulsively leaves the estate for London, seeking the Duke of Wellington. Learning that the duke is in Paris, Caroline travels there and demands an audience. Although Wellington willingly entertains Caroline and takes her to bed, the next morning he states that he can do nothing for William and advises her to do the "fine" thing and leave her husband. Returning to the estate, Caroline summons solicitor Edwin Potter to request he draw up papers of separation. Requesting to meet Lady Melbourne privately, Caroline presents her with the papers, but when her mother-in-law attempts to thank her, she becomes hysterical. Weeks later, after the divorce is final, William sits in his lonely Irish lodgings with a large portrait of Caroline decorating his study. Still at Melbourne House, Caroline grows steadily despondent and one evening collapses during a rainstorm and dies. When Lady Melbourne asks the doctor for an explanation, he can provide none, but Caroline’s maid sadly avers that her mistress has died of a broken heart. Unimpressed, Lady Melbourne remarks, "My God, wouldn't she." +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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