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"I Saw Something Nasty In The Woodshed!" Sussex Village's Cold Comfort Farm & The Starkadder Family

  • May 12, 2009
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Originally broadcast in 1971, the BBC's telly production of Stella Gibbon's 1932 novel, "Cold Comfort Farm" helped to launch the first season of PBS's signature series, "Masterpiece Theatre".

This is a great BBC remake and is the great director, John Schlessinger's (Billy Liar, Midnight Cowboy & Marathon Man,) acclaimed 1995 film adaptation starring a TERRIFIC young, Kate Beckinsale (in her 5th film) as the recently orphaned, main character & heroine, 19 year-old Flora Poste.
Set in the 1930's, in England, Flora writes to all of her relation regarding her newly "orphaned status", just hoping & praying someone will take her in as she has no real drive or ambition, save for possibly becoming the next Jane Austen. Flora accepts an offer from The Starkadders Of Cold Comfort Farm in the fictional village of Howling, Sussex. She thinks that she just might like farm life and it might be good for her writing career. However, once she arrives she finds out that the farm has had a curse upon it along with all of the inhabitants, human and animal alike.

The Starkadder family is comprised of Amos & his forelorn wife, Judith, & their two virile & rakish sons, Seth and Reuben. As Flora says, "Highly sexed young men living on farms are always called Seth or Reuben."

Also living at Cold Comfort is a lovely waifish sprite of a cousin, Elfine, the hired help, Adam Lambsbreath, Urk, Rennet & Mrs. Beetle. Also locked in her chambers is an old crusty hermit of a grandmamma, Ada Doom (appropriately named). The Starkadders & the rest of the clan are pure country folk with pure country ways. Their lives being quite primitive in contrast with Flora's.

Flora or "Robert Poste's Child" as she is called by most of the citizens of Howling, Sussex,
sets out to change it all though and with some priceless and hilarious scenes ensuing. Flora tries to bring everyone around to a higher common sense and does it with great gusto.

With lines in the film like:

Amos Starkadder: Seth, drain the well. There's a neighbor missing.

Violet: She b'aint worf it Urk, she jus b'aint worf it!

and, of course, the two most repeated and beloved lines in the film:

Ada Doom: I saw something nasty in the woodshed! & "There has always been Starkadders on Cold Comfort Farm."

The speech of the characters is a parody of rural dialects  and the film is sprinkled with fake but truly authentic-sounding local vocabulary such as mollocking - Seth's favourite activity, undefined but invariably resulting in the pregnancy of a local maid, sukebind  -a weed whose flowering in the Spring symbolizes the quickening of sexual urges in man and beast and clettering - a totally impractical method used by Adam for washing dishes, which involves scraping them with a dry twig or "clettering" stick.

This film is a gem, a fabulous adaptation of the novel and a great and wonderful surprise for it's viewers. A great cast and performances with the great Ian McKellen,Kate Beckinsale, Joanna Lumley, Eileen Atkins and Rufus Sewell. I highly recommend "Cold Comfort Farm" whether there is something "nasty in the woodshed" or not!

Happy Watching!

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review by . June 13, 2010
Down on the farm
It is the 1930s, and London gadabout Flora Poste (Kate Beckinsale) has just been orphaned. With no options or ambition (except to experience life and become a writer), she goes to live in the country with distant relatives. Upon arriving at the dilapidated farm, she finds its inhabitants are all gloomy, filthy, wretched oafs, so naturally she sets about improving their lives.      This basic plot has been done before, most notably in Amelie, but this BBC movie is terrible. There's …
About the reviewer
Sheila Chilcote-Collins ()
Ranked #155
I enjoy writing my own reviews, listmanias, 'So You'd Like To's' on Amazon and love reading other people's thoughts. I own in excess of 1000 movies, 800+ albums, & 500+ books. … more
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