Picks and Pans Review: The Wicked Lady

updated 11/14/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/14/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST

Michael Winner, who made his reputation directing such action films as Death Wish, Chato's Land and Firepower, turns to a period piece, and the period seems to be the Age of Flouncing, Baleful Stares and Goofy Plots. The setting is more or less 19th-century England, where Faye Dunaway steals her best friend's fiancé, falls in love with another man on her wedding day, becomes a highwaywoman, takes on still another lover, poisons a family retainer, bullwhips a romantic rival and plots to murder her husband. Now is that wicked or is that wicked? As it turns out, it's not wicked, or funny either, just silly. Dunaway acts the heck out of the lame script by Winner and Leslie Arliss, flaring her nostrils, widening her eyes and leering rapaciously. Watching her is like watching a Porsche stuck in the mud; she's just spinning her wheels. The members of the estimable supporting cast, including Glynis Barber, Alan Bates, Denholm Elliott and Sir John Gielgud, don't embarrass themselves too much. Winner is typically voyeuristic—nude women, interrupted in mid-sexual encounter, scamper around an awful lot of scenes. But few peeping Toms have real vision, and Winner's no exception. (R)

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