SaraLyn had asked for a synopsis of Our Mutual Friend, so that is the first movie I've chosen to write of. I probably won't go in any particular order with them. And not all will be this long (maybe). But this is one I just loved!
Lizzie Hexam is a poor girl living with her father and brother on the river. Her father earns a living by dragging the river for bodies and turning them in--often after keeping whatever money was found on them. There is no shame if the body is dead. If the body is alive, that is quite wrong. His partner in this, Rogue Riderhood, has recently done just that. Mr. Hexam cuts off their partnership, angering Riderhood. Lizzie often helps her father by rowing the boat and such.
Lawyer Mortimer Lightwood has one case--that of Mr. Harmon, who made a huge fortune in "dust." (I'm pretty sure that means sifting through garbage.) Harmon had a knack of pushing people away, and had even sent his own son away years ago. Old Harmon has recently died. The will stipulates that his son John Harmon inherits the entire fortune, but only if he returns home and marries a woman he has never met--Bella Wilfer. This was part of old Mr. Harmon's twisted humor, selfishness, and so on. Mr. Lightwood is soon informed that in the return home, John Harmon had drowned. Charley is sent to retrieve him saying they have found the body and as lawyer he needs to come.
Lightwood's friend, Eugene Wrayburn (whose name you'll hear a lot, hee hee!) is a wealthy son with no convictions, causes, or anything. He's not bad, just lazy. His father won't support him unless he makes any advantageous marriage--of which Eugene has no interest to seek after. Eugene accompanies Lightwood to see the body. It is here that he first sees Lizzie, and is immediately enchanted/intrigued by her. In going to see the body, there is a Julius Handford who wishes to see it, too. He is quite startled in seeing the body, but says it is not who he was looking for. His actions raise suspicions in the officer, and he chooses to keep a watch on him. Only Handford disappears!
Then we meet Bella Wilfer--the unfortunate “widow” of sorts who never even met the man she didn't end up marrying. She is annoyed by her current situation and finds her father's new lodger, John Rokesmith, to be a bit odd. Mr. Rokesmith is new to town, and becomes secretary to the Boffins--loyal dustworkers to old Mr. Harmon who ended up inheriting the fortune due to the death of John Harmon. He is to help them keep track of their accounts and help them into "society" as they have no idea what or how to do any of that.
The Boffins feel terrible about taking away the fortune they feel belongs to Bella Wilfer, who had known all her life that it was intended for her upon marriage. So they invite her to be their ward of sorts so that she may benefit, too. She's a bit affronted in some ways by them (their social graces ain't so...graceful), but she also longs for a life beyond her family's meager one. So she accepts. This puts her in the way of Mr. Rokesmith even more, and she is frustrated by his "always watching" her.
Side story here!: Mr. Boffin hires Silas Wegg (one legged man) to read to the Boffins to help them become more educated. Later Wegg wants to take advantage of Mr. Boffin's wealth and tries to go into cahoots with Venus--a lovesick taxidermist. (He really is such an ironical character, played well by the guy who plays Wormtail.) Venus, though, soon does not agree with what Wegg is doing, and in a way double crosses him by confessing the whole to Mr. Boffin. Mr. Boffin in turn helps persuade Venus' love interest (Riderhood's daughter) to look on him--or rather his profession--more favorably. (I'll admit that while this story has its interesting moments, it's also the part that I'm thinking "Get on with it!" One good-guy character involved in the squelching of Wegg is almost completely erased from the Netflix version--his part mostly being in the missing 40 minutes.)
OK. Back to the others. Riderhood wants revenge on Mr. Hexam, but the latter ends up drowning before that could happen. Mr. Wrayburn, concerned about Lizzie, helps her to get to London and finds her a place to live with the doll-maker daughter-of-a-drunk Jenny Wren. First off, one would think Jenny's a little touched. But she does see things more clearly than some do and is so sweet. (She's a great character and the actress did so well with her. I always find something to think of when I see her again.)
Now Lizzie earlier on had wanted all that's best for her brother Charley, and knew he'd get that through education and not living on the river. So she had saved what she could and sent Charley on before their father's death. Charley is now under the tutelage of Mr. Headstone. Lizzie is working at Jenny's. She is proud of Charley's success, but doesn't want to interfere with his schooling. Mr. Headstone agrees (especially considering the poor past connections that it would give Charley), until he meets Lizzie. He's immediately bewitched (of his own accord).
Charley has noticed Mr. Wrayburn often visiting Lizzie, and he doesn't like it. (Charley's a major brat and ingrate by the way.) So he brings Headstone to see Eugene, and Lightwood is there to witness the scene. Humorous in its ways--I laughed a lot. But Headstone here starts to become quite jealous. Later, he proposes to Lizzie who politely refuses him. This is where we see him begin to show his insanity when he punches, well, a headstone. (Kind of a Collins-ish proposal, but his reaction was a bit scary; also, a warning--you'll see more of Headstone than you wanted to...literally.) Charley is furious with Lizzie's refusal and says he will have nothing to do with her. Lizzie is distraught and hurt, especially knowing that she has feelings for Eugene and stands no chance because of their social standings. So she runs away from London.
Meanwhile, Mr. Rokesmith is completely in love with Bella, and reveals to the audience that he is the drowned John Harmon. He details his story, and tells how he wanted to "test" Bella by watching her--not wanting to "come to life" and claim her for his own when it would be degrading to each of them. But now he is so in love with her and doesn't know what to do. Bella in turn finally confronts him to tell him to stop his "watching." He declares his feelings and she rejects them. He is distraught, but he continues with the Boffins. In that time, John and Bella slowly form a kind of friendship. (Best scenes of this are part of the missing footage, as is how Bella and Lizzie actually meet.)
As the friendship develops, Mr. Boffin starts to become miserly and treats John terriblly, his wealth having changed him. This greatly upsets Bella, who had come to love the Boffins a great deal. (She has still kept a charming relationship with her father--I think you [SaraLyn] will love that part, considering your own daddy-daughter relationship). When Mr. Boffin hears of John's refused proposal from some social parasites, he lays the charges at him, saying he is unworthy of Bella and that all Bella wants is money. Bella is hurt by both accusations, realizing her true feelings for John as he is fired and turned from the house. So she gives up the Boffins' wealth to return to her family's poor home. She is intercepted by John. (Oh, what a scene! I love it!!!) John and Bella marry. (Excellent scene there, too.)
Eugene has been searching for Lizzie. He cannot find her, and he misses her greatly. Lightwood is a bit confused by it, and then shocked when Eugene literally shows him how Headstone stalks him around town every night. Desperate to find her, Eugene uses "foul means" (as even he himself admits) by bribing Jenny's father with money for drink if he in turn will find Lizzie's address. The father complies, and later he is discovered drowned in the river, most likely having fallen in drunk.
Eugene learns that Lizzie is working in the country, and come spring, he follows her there. Headstone follows Eugene. Riderhood, having almost drowned himself, has moved to a different part of the river so that it cannot claim him. He is a lock-keeper, sees both Eugene and Headstone, and begins guessing what Headstone is up to. Eugene and Lizzie meet up again. They both admit their feelings to one another, but Lizzie asks him to leave her be as it is just not possible for the two to be together. Being evening, she promises to let him see her one more time the next day before sending him away.
However, Headstone attacks him, beats him, and then throws him in the river. Lizzie had heard a scuffle and ends up being the one to pull him from the river. (Irony of her past there! And what a heart-wrenching scene, too.) The doctor does not expect him to survive. Jenny and Lightwood both come to join Lizzie. Bella comes at one point, too, and in Lightwood’s conveying her, he meets her husband John for the first time. (Uh-oh!)
John’s secretive past begins to unfold there, and through it all Bella stays constant and loyal until he is able to tell her the full truth. But you'll just have to watch it to see how everything ends up!
I think it's totally worth the watch--even the the version missing 40 minutes. As long as you are able to see it, I think you will love it! I was quite happy with the acting. It has its mid-90s feel to it, but still pretty good! I'm a fan. Obviously. :-)