Lord Vulcan and Serena Staveley
Lord Vulcan and Serena Staveley


Whatever you might think of the romantic escapism of a Barbara Cartland novel, and she's written 465 of them, they have certainly entertained millions all over the world. But only recently has one of her books been transferred to the screen, A Hazard Of Hearts. Barbara, now 86, recently told me it was written in 1948 and was the first of her costume - period novels. "I've written nothing else but period stories ever since," she said. 

Released by MGM/UA Home Video, A Hazard Of Hearts has an all-star cast in Helena Bonham Carter, Diana Rigg, Edward Fox, Marcus Gilbert, Fiona Fullerton, Christopher Plummer and Stewart Granger. 

Lavishly filmed in some superb English locations, it revives memories of the sort of films we Brits were so good at making under the banner of Gainsborough Pictures in the Forties. In fact the famous Gainsborough lady symbol appears at the start of this production, costing ?4 million and directed by John Hough. 

This early 19th-century story of a young girl, Serena, orphaned by the death of her father and then caught up in a tale of romance, intrigue, smugglers, decadence and danger, contains all the ingredients you expect of a Cartland romance. The starry cast play their roles with an obvious relish, particularly Diana Rigg deliciously flamboyant as a wicked lady. Edward Fox makes for a roguish, dastardly villain, while newcomer Marcus Gilbert admirably portrays the handsome hero, Lord Vulcan. Pure romantic escapism, and well served up as a tasty dish of likeable hokum. 

From Photoplay magazine, May 1988.

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