Produced in 1991 by World Wide International Television for British TV, filmed in England, directed by Roy Battersby (A Touch of Frost, Inspector Morse), based on the novel by Catherine Cookson. Nat plays Lionel Filmore. Co-starring Samantha Bond, James Gaddas, Cathy Sandford, Robert Hines, Denholm Elliott and Tara Fitzgerald.


Plot Summary

This is quite a complicated plot. Bridget is the heiress of a profitable blacking factory. She has a thing for her shop manager, Joe, a good-looking, heart-of-gold rube. Joe discovers that a young, poor girl named Lily is "in the family way" and has been dumped by her blue-blood lover, Lionel Filmore. Joe asks Lily to marry him so her baby will have a name and because he's always loved her. Meanwhile, Lionel, whose family owns the local estate but is broke, courts Bridget's cousin Victoria, who he assumes will have money from the blacking factory. Lionel is, if you haven't guessed it already, dashingly handsome and a complete villain. Bridget agrees to pay Lionel a yearly stipend if he marries smitten Victoria. Things get more complicated when a murder is committed, Joe is blamed for it, and Bridget begins to fall for Lionel's brother, Douglas. Got all that? And that's only the first half and hour.

General Review

This is a soapy Victorian pot-boiler and the characters are one-dimensional. Lionel Filmore, for example, doesn't have a redeeming bone in his body (unless it's his twisted affection for his rich, septuagenarian mistress). There's also Bridget, the saintly maiden aunt, Lily, the sheepish little victim, Joe, who'll go to his death to protect Lily's "honor", and so on. There are some odd choices in the editing - we never see Joe being hanged and I kept wondering why the characters didn't do something more to save his life. As it turns out, he was already dead. Despite this, The Black Candle is entertaining enough for a TV movie, particularly if you like dark romance. It has lots of action, melodrama and some genuinely disturbing and lusty moments.

Nat Review

As mentioned above, Nat's character in this film is as black a villain as you can imagine. He goes from vain, amoral and cruel to positively psychotic. It's rather fun to see him in such an almost campy role, but if you're easily disturbed you might want to pass. One of his major pieces of villainy is quite gruesome. He is so perfect for roles like this though - the British aristocrat with the heart of soot. Heck, compared to Lionel Filmore, Rawdon Crawley and Edward Rochester are saints. Value for your dollar: plenty of screen time and he looks marvelous.


Samantha Bond, who plays Bridget in this film, has been Miss Moneypenny in a number of James Bond films (The World is Not Enough, Goldeneye, Tomorrow Never Dies). Parker has been talked about as a contender for the James Bond role.


Out on DVD in the USA and the UK

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