I have read several of British author Thomas Hardy’s (1840-1928) novels. I wasn’t forced to read them for a class, I read them of my own free will. Several of Hardy’s novels have been turned into movies, notably Tess of the D’Urbervilles, and Jude the Obscure. While those novels are well written and interesting tales, they have downer endings. I wanted to focus my classic movie pick on a Hardy novel turned movie, that doesn’t have that sad ending, so I chose 1967’s Far From the Madding Crowd. The film was directed by John Schlesinger who has been credited with helping actress Julie Christie’s career to get off the ground when he cast her in the film, Billy Liar, and then he directed Christie in her Academy Award winning Best Actress role, in the film, Darling.
If Far From the Madding Crowd were transported to that silly U.S. Game show, The Dating Game, then the beautiful bachelorette would be Bathsheba Everdene(Julie Christie). Bathsheba is now wealthy, as she’s inherited her late Uncle’s profitable farm. She’s a very Modern Miss for the 1870s Victorian England and she has announced that she’ll manage the farm herself! This news shocks many in the rural community of Weatherbury, where the tale is set, and earns her some negative views.
On to the Bachelors! Bachelor #1 is Frank Troy(Terrence Stamp), a dashing Calvary Officer in Her Majesty’s army. Troy is a rogue; he loves the ladies and the gambling tables. Bachelor #2 is Mr. William Boldwood(Peter Finch), a neighboring, wealthy farmer who has never married. He is at least 20 years older than Bathsheba. A quiet. polite gentleman, but a possible new passion could turn him a bit crazed! Bachelor #3, Gabriel Oak(Alan Bates) is a shepherd by trade. Strong and ruggedly handsome, he has a lot of common sense and knows how to run a farm. All three of these men are interested in the single, beautiful Bathsheba. Which one should she choose for a husband??
Bathsheba, who knew Gabriel Oak from her childhood, succeeds in hiring him to be her head shepherd. He notices that she is an impetuous sort of girl when she sends a Valentine to the neighbor, Mr. Boldwood. Boldwood is surprised and touched by the missive, so much so that he seeks Bathsheba out and proposes to her! She agrees to think about his offer of marriage, but during the allotted time that she has asked for in contemplating Boldwood’s proposal, she meets Calvary Officer Troy. He is so handsome in that red uniform, he marvels Bathsheba with his sword handling skills, and he knows she is rich. Bathsheba and Troy soon marry, much to Boldwood’s great sorrow.
Married life begins for the couple and sadly, Bathsheba is at first blind to her new husband’s faults and he has a bundle of them. He antagonizes the farm’s field hands with his pestering, he gambles away a lot of Bathsheba’s money, and he also has another woman from his past that will soon enter into the plot and drive Troy to disappear.
After waiting the prescribed amount of time to have Troy declared legally dead, Bathsheba agrees to marry Mr. Boldwood. A huge engagement party is planned by Boldwood and all of Weatherbury are invited. When all are gathered and enjoying the party, an unexpected guest arrives and it drives Boldwood to act out in a crazy and violent manner.
While all of the drama, passion, and turmoil roil around Bathsheba, Gabriel has managed to be the calm observer and when asked, gives wise, honest answers. Will Bathsheba wake up and realize that Gabriel is the man for her? Is she doomed to remain single after these disastrous first two tries at gaining a husband? One must seek out this film and find out the answers to those questions.
Luckily, it will air on TCM on Tuesday, March 3 at 7:45 am est/6:45 am cst. Set your dvrs! Far From the Madding Crowd is also avaible to buy via TCM’s Shop in a dvd or a blu-ray dvd. It is also available to purchase at Amazon.
While the film isn’t on You Tube, some kind soul did post it’s trailer, one audiences would have seen in 1967 to