The Bostonians

Screening on Film
Directed by James Ivory.
With Christopher Reeve, Vanessa Redgrave, Madeleine Potter.
UK, 1984, 35mm, color, 122 min.

This adaptation of Henry James's classic presents a nuanced portrait of the emerging women's movement in the civilized East of the 1870s through the tale of Verena Tarrant—daughter of a faith healer and an inspired orator in her own right—and the forces competing for her heart and mind. Chief among these forces are her benefactor, Olive Chancellor, a wealthy Boston feminist who seeks to further Verena's education, and Olive's cousin Basil, a traditional Southern gentlemen who pursues Verena for his bride. Beyond the meticulous period detail and the pleasures of its narrative twists, The Bostonians also boasts one of Merchant-Ivory's finest casts, including Jessica Tandy as an aged Boston reformer, Linda Hunt as a no-nonsense physician, Nancy Marchand as a scheming New York society lady, and Wallace Shawn as a meddlesome newspaper reporter. 

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Treasures from the Harvard Film Archive: Directors E–J