Set in Edwardian England, Laurence Olivier (Rebecca) plays a well-regarded London barrister hired by an eccentric ex-actress, played by Katharine Hepburn (Summertime), to defend her against a lawsuit brought by a jilted “boyfriend.” The lawyer and the actress had a brief romantic fling when they were young, but to his constant frustration, she doesn’t remember him and hilarity ensues.
Reaction & Thoughts:
The kind of thing that we probably won’t see ever again: a sophisticated rom-com starring two legendary sexagenarians. Produced for TV, Love Among the Ruins is an engaging, highly entertaining period piece that comes with a 100-minute guarantee against boredom — the dialogue is great and the performances are pure perfection.
In veteran filmmaker George Cukor’s (The Philadelphia Story) deft hands, Love Among the Ruins is a collection of witty wordplay matches that set out to examine everything from loneliness and regret to honor and, of course, love. The Emmy-winning teleplay by James Costigan (Mr. North) is full of boisterous dialogue.
Love Among the Ruins recreates the Edwardian era beautifully — sets, costumes and camera work are top-notch. You forget that this is a made-for-TV-movie. Douglas Slocombe’s (Raiders of the Lost Ark) glossy cinematography, the elegant costumes by Margaret Furse (Anne of the Thousand Days), the spirited music score by John Barry (Out of Africa), all contribute greatly to the film’s playful mood.
Katharine Hepburn and Laurence Olivier are the whole show, though — they engage in a battle-of-sex reminisce of the old Tracy-Hepburn comedies. Olivier, in particular, is hilarious. He plays an English gentleman exasperated by the eccentricities of his American client. Hepburn is his match. She plays an older version of Tracy Lord — aloof, insecure, but totally charming. Their chemistry is obvious. This is irrefutable proof that age doesn’t diminish talent and/or charisma.
The fine supporting cast includes Colin Blakely (The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes and Murder on the Orient Express) as J.F. Devine, Joan Sims (Carry on Henry) as Fanny Pratt and John Blythe (The Cockleshell Heroes) as Tipstall. They all give Olivier and Hepburn something to “act against.”
Conclusions & Final Thoughts:
Love Among the Ruins is a film for film lovers. It’s a delightful production from beginning to end — it’s very chic and very, very funny. This is also a must for fans of the two stars. Color, 100 minutes, Rated G.