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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Jane Austen In Manhattan (1980)

A famous acting teacher (Anne Baxter) competes with her former student and ex-lover (Robert Powell, JESUS OF NAZARETH)) for the theatrical rights to a play written by Jane Austen as an adolescent. His theatrical troupe borders on a cult as he manipulates his company's personal lives and takes their money. This is one of the lesser known films from the team of producer Ismail Merchant and director James Ivory and justifiably so. Pretentious twaddle about sums it up! Powell's avant garde production of the Austen play is awful, it's part of Ruth Prawer Jhabvala's original script, yet not content to let us see just enough of it to comprehend the sheer awfulness of it, we're continually treated to scenes of the terrible performance of the Austen play. Baxter's production of the play as an opera is pretty dire, too. In between the rivalry, we're exposed to the banal personal lives of Powell's acting class including Sean Young in her film debut who falls under the spell of Powell's Svengali. Normally, this would be a bad thing but considering the creepy husband (Kurt Johnson) she's married to, Svengali makes a welcome alternative. With Katrina Hodiak (Baxter's real life daughter), Tim Choate, Nancy New and Michael Wager.

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