'Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries: Complete Collection'
(Ian Carmichael, Glyn Houston, et al / 6-Disc / NR / (1972) 2012 / Acorn Media)
Overview: Ian Carmichael stars in the original BBC adaptations of the Dorothy L. Sayers crime thrillers. Hailed by critics as one of the finest mystery series ever filmed, its success on PBS’s Masterpiece Theatre inspired the spin-off Mystery!
DVD Verdict: It has to be said that much in the same vein as Basil Rathbone encompassed the role of Sherlock Holmes in the supposed-to-be '20 and '30s, that Ian Carmichael embodied his own supposed-to-be '20s and '30s role as Lord Peter Wimsey just as perfectly. Complete with dashes of posh properness, finesse and intellectual banter, they both summed up methodical detective work at its finest.
And, funnily enough, Glyn Houston as the gentleman's gentleman Bunter is so Watson-like in the investigations that the duo are immediately cult from the same cloth. Also a chef, the posh British butler blends seamlessly behind Lord Wimsey in all the adventures they have together.
A damn fine period piece, even today, the 'Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries: Complete Collection' starts with 'CLOUDS OF WITNESS,' when Wimsey's holiday is abruptly interrupted by his brother's murder trial. The Duke of Denver is being charged with the murder of a man that, weirdly, the Duke himself cannot give reason for? Chock full of delightful accents, acting, period costumes, and chug-chug vehicles, this episode is also full of lies, counter-lies, secrets, and motives galore - on all sides.
In 'THE UNPLEASANTNESS AT THE BELLONA CLUB' (a great title, don't you think?), a well-respected Bellona member dies in the reading room. And just as Wimsey starts to investigate another Sister passes the same way. So, having only been called in to verify a time of death for the Death Certificate re: a brewing inheritance scuffle, it's he who smells a rat. Or in this case, poison!
In 'MURDER MUST ADVERTISE,' an Ad copywriter, Dean falls to his death down a wicked spiral starircase. But, as with all things of this manner, was he pushed or was it an accident? But, as Wimsey soon discovers the man was associated with a wealthy drug user group, and with everyone from his sister to his best friend all sticking up for him, the alarm bells start ringing inside his head. Oh, and aside from the fact that this, for my money was the best episode of the collection, look out for the brilliant character-actor Peter Bowles ('To The Manor Born') as his best mate, Major Milligan.
In the second from last episode, 'FIVE RED HERRINGS,' Lord Wimsey discovers Bunter's art hobby whilst they travel together on a Galway train. Both trying to get away from things for a while, sure enough a body washes up amongst the painter easels on the stoney beach. And so with the holiday at an abrupt end, there soon seems to be one killer at large and five red herrings, as they say. Filmed near Kirkcudbright (meant to portray a desolate 1931), we also get to see some early poice work at, well, work.
And in the final episode, 'THE NINE TAILORS,' we quickly learn that the title refers to the church bells being rung nine times for the old year; or for a man's death. So when some emeralds are stolen from a house on Fenchurch St. Paul, just as Wimsey goes to investigate Wimsey and Bunter have a car accident outside the small town. Then, out of nowhere it's bombs away time! Sadly Major Wimsey's WWI bunker is hit, but he's pulled to safety by Sgt. Bunter. Yes, you're not going mad, we've tripped back to 1918 and the first meeting between the detective duo! Springing right back to 1924, and Wimsey and now-butler Bunter survive the car crash, of course, and begin to unravel a very tricky case. Indeed it's all go here and the perfect way to bring the devious collection to an end. These are all Full Screen Presentations (1:33.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and come with the Special Features of:
Interviews with Ian Carmichael
Biographies of Dorothy L. Sayers and Ian Carmichael