Before creating the beloved courtroom drama Rumpole of the Bailey, writer John Mortimer found inspiration in his own life for this portrait of a difficult but enduring love between father and son in mid-20th-century Britain.
Screen legend Laurence Olivier stars as the eccentric patriarch, Clifford Mortimer – a blind barrister so stubborn and cantankerous that he refuses to acknowledge his sightlessness. Alan Bates (Gosford Park) portrays his devoted son John, who follows his father's footsteps in the law while longing to become a writer, with Jane Asher (Brideshead Revisited) as his wife Elizabeth and Elizabeth Sellars as his mother.
Adapted for the screen by Mortimer himself and filmed largely on location at his family estate in bucolic Oxfordshire, this production garnered multiple awards, including an International Emmy for best drama. Jane was nominated for a BAFTA award for best actress in 1983.
This production was notable for including the blind actor Esmond Knight in a sighted role, as one judge Mortimer senior faces. By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, it captures the special bond between father and son, which at times seems unbearable--but ultimately unbreakable.
Photos 1 & 2) From the net.
Photos 3 to 5) Ebay auction listing.
Photos 6 to 14) REX FEATURES.