I just finished watching the 1975 adaptation of North and South. I really enjoyed it and I am so glad that I purchased it. It is important to keep in mind that this version was made twenty-nine years before the 2004 Adaptation. I was a little tickled knowing that Richard Armitage was only four years old when this version was made….HA!
I really loved Patrick Stewart as John Thornton and I think he did a really good job. Stewart was thirty-five when he worked on North and South. I don’t think this photo of Stewart does him justice as Thornton. He actually is quite handsome in the film and his voice is very deep and sensual. At least to me it is sensual. It is very deep for SURE. Stewart delivers his lines with more rapid fire than Richard Armitage did. Both portrayals of Thornton are fabulous in their own right. I LOVED it when Thornton went down on bended knee and told Margaret that he loves her and then looks at her intently….swoon. This Thornton says a precious line that is in the book that I LOVE. He says it while he is carrying Margaret after they both faced the strikers. Of course Margaret has passed out and doesn’t hear it. If you read the book, you will know what line I am talking about. If your name is Trudy Brasure you should know what line I am referring to. In this version Thornton says this line with such love in his eyes while holding the only woman he will ever love. It saddens me that this line was omitted from the 2004 version.
Rosalind Shanks, of course, plays Margaret Hale and I liked her a lot in the role. Rosalind looks older than nineteen, but that could have been the makeup. I was trying to find out how old Miss Shanks actually was at the time, but there is literally no information about her except that she is a British actress. This version of Margaret is closer to the book. Margaret Hale is an independent thinker, but she is still a Victorian woman and a Southern one at that. Rosalind displays the haughtiness that Margaret of the book has. Her hair is darker which is more like Margaret of the book as well. This Margaret is also better dressed than the 2004 version of her. Her clothes look more stylish and tailored.
The above photo is Margaret and John in front of his home facing the strikers. In this version Thornton plays it very cool as the strikers are trying to break down the gate. I LOVED it! He knows the situation is urgent, but he plays it cool never the less. Thornton goes to open the front door to his house, but before he goes inside he turns around and sees the strikers break the gate and enter the premises. Thornton remains standing there, giving them a stare that is priceless and then he calmly goes inside and shuts the door. I had to stop the video and replay it.
I did not care so much for this version of Mrs. Thornton. She had the required meanness but at the same time she looked too physically fragile.
I liked this Mr. Hale, but Mrs. Hale was not as sweet as the 2004 version.
Fannie in this version was simply HORRID. I did not like her at all.
It was a treat seeing Tim Pigot-Smith playing Margaret’s brother. He looks the same only thirty years younger. I could not find any photos of him in this production. I never learned how to do screen caps. Maybe someone else who knows how will do it.
This version is not filled with “beautiful” people like the 2004 version is. Many of the actors and actresses are what would be considered “homely” when you compare it to period dramas that were made years later. I am not going to tell you the ending, but I did like it.
All in all I really enjoyed watching this version of North and South. I am glad that it is now in my video library collection to watch anytime I please.
Photo of Rosalind Shanks Courtesy of Victor Pemberton.