A Woman of Substance
Determined to ruin the upper-class Fairley family who wronged her, Emma Harte (Jenny Seagrove) aims to become one of the richest women in the world. Although anachronistic for a woman born around 1890, it is exhilarating to watch her think and act like a contemporary woman with the benefits of late-20th-century feminism. In just over five hours, this Emmy-nominated version of Barbara Taylor Bradford's bestselling novel A Woman of Substance
traces Emma's life from overworked Yorkshire maid to the triumphant 79-year-old matriarch (Deborah Kerr) of a vast business empire. Married twice, but only truly loving a man she could never marry, Emma devotes herself to building her business empire. Surrounded by a loyal few, including Irishman Blackie O'Neill (Liam Neeson), Emma lives her life as a strong, uncompromising protagonist similar to Gone with the Wind's Scarlett O'Hara in a social environment reminiscent of Upstairs, Downstairs
. Her life is a sort of feminist retrospective on the social issues of 1890s-to-1930s England--poverty, illegitimate children, illness, anti-Semitism, World War I, whether to marry for security or passion, the role of women in the workplace, and such--making A Woman of Substance
a historical and inspiring film to watch.
Hold the Dream
The love of her life was there all along, she just didn't know it. As sequels go, Hold the Dream is a little like the sequel to Gone with the Wind: it's not devoid of merit, but it's not as captivating or enthralling as the original. Paula Fairley (Jenny Seagrove) inherits and runs the retail empire built by her grandmother, Emma Harte (Deborah Kerr). This somewhat lackluster tale of dutiful, hard-working Harte versus undeserving, greedy heirs set in the rather sterile world of 1980s New York City penthouses and English country manors lacks both its precursor's production budget and inspiring poor-girl-makes-good conviction. On the other hand, the love story between Paula and Shane (7th Heaven's Stephen Collins) manages to transcend the miniseries' weaknesses. Overcoming obstacles, tragedy, and deceit on numerous fronts, Paula remains driven by her sense of duty and business acumen. Finally learning that she cannot live on work and her grandmother's dream alone, Paula slowly warms to the possibility of true love. Her most loyal supporter and lifelong friend Shane helps her see that her own dreams can be the most rewarding. Wonderful performances by Seagrove and Collins make Hold the Dream a heartwarming tale about a powerful businesswoman learning to look beyond the bottom line and accept the love of a man who has loved her in silence her whole life.
To Be the Best
In the close of the trilogy, To Be the Best, Paula (Lindsay Wagner) comes into her own as a woman, mother, wife, and businesswoman. While not as captivating as the first parts of the trilogy, To Be the Best offers a satisfying close to the story and has its strengths, including a standout performance from Academy Award® winner Anthony Hopkins, who plays Paula's chief of security. Thanks to Hopkins's performance, what might otherwise have seemed like a long-lost episode of Dynasty is also part espionage thriller. As Paula gets inveigled into a series of compromising business situations in Hong Kong, it is her dapper and debonair chief of security who repeatedly saves the day. --Tara Chace