White Mischief 1987 Movie Scene Greta Scacchi as Diana looking at Charles Dance as Erroll in a swimsuit

White Mischief [1987]

Before we start talking about today’s Rabbit Reviews movie recommendation, I want to promise you something. I want to promise you that from that faithful moment you read the title of this movie, things will only get weirder and weirder. So, let us begin our strange journey. First of all, White Mischief is an erotic thriller set in the 1940s following a group of wealthy British expats in Kenya. Although I just labeled it as an erotic thriller there’s also a lot of drama and comedy in this movie. However, one thing is certain, White Mischief is a movie worth watching.

The title is actually a play on words, twisting the name of Evelyn Waugh’s 1932 novel Black Mischief to fit the narrative better. After all, this is a story about a bunch of rich assholes enjoying themselves in Africa while the rest of the world is just trying to come out of WWII alive. If there’s something I hate, it’s these privileged aristocrats. Fucking kings, queens, princes, wealthy landowners, and other scum of our society. So, you might be wondering why did then I watch the movie where they’re hedonistically enjoying themselves.

Well, that’s the thing, no matter where you run, you won’t be able to run from yourself. And our basic human nature. The events you’re going to see unfold in this movie are no different from the events you might see in some of the worst slums in the world. I guess now is the perfect time to tell you that the movie White Mischief is based on actual events. In fact, it’s based on a non-fiction novel of the same name written by James Fox. And yes, the place all of this is happening actually exists. It’s called Happy Valley for a reason. 

It is the year of our lord Satan 1940 and the Nazi forces are relentlessly bombing the United Kingdom. Sir John Henry Delves Broughton or Jock for his friends and his stunningly beautiful wife Diana decide to escape this chaos. They soon find themselves in the Happy Valley, a place in Kenya where British aristocrats have been seeking refuge for many years. Incredibly wealthy and incredibly bored, these aristocrats turn to all the pleasures of the flesh to make them feel alive. Nothing is off-limit as the puritanical spirit is far, far away in England. However, something horrible is about to happen that’s going to change everything for them.

I’ll just come out and admit it: the only reason why I decided to check out White Mischief in the first place is Greta Scacchi. Sure, the story of unbridled hedonism, drugs, alcohol, and wild parties sounded intriguing. But what I really wanted to see was her. And she did not disappoint. I think that this is one of her best performances to date. Opposite of her we have the young and dashing Charles Dance. Now that’s a match made in heaven. However, the list of familiar faces doesn’t stop there.

It’s so strange to think that Joss Ackland, who plays Jock here, a man who appeared in over 100 movies during his career spanning six decades will be remembered as that “diplomatic immunity guy” from Lethal Weapon. Young Hugh Grant also makes a brief appearance while John Hurt just gobbles up his screen time. White Mischief unfolds at a leisurely pace and I have to admit that some scenes felt out of place and unnecessarily long. A story like this is screaming for a modern and a bit tighter adaptation.

I watched the digitally remastered version (My Private Collection – Nov 2020) and it looked pretty good despite the 4:3 aspect ratio. The usual aspect ratio is 16:9, just to be clear. However, once you start watching the movie, you’ll hardly notice it. The colors are bright and vivid and the image is sharp. Another cool thing about the movie is the setting. It’s no wonder that Kenya became the refuge of the wealthy with its stunning nature.

Director: Michael Radford

Writers: James Fox, Michael Radford, Jonathan Gems

Cast: Greta Scacchi, Charles Dance, Joss Ackland, Sarah Miles, John Hurt, Susan Fleetwood, Geraldine Chaplin

Fun Facts: Trevor Howard who plays Soames in the movie was constantly drunk on the set and White Mischief will turn out to be his last movie.


IMDb Link: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0094317/

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