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The Go-Between

'The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.'

The Go-Between, which was directed by Joseph Losey, was released in 1970. It was based on the novel of the same name by L.P.Hartley which first appeared in 1953. John Betjeman regarded The Go-Between as Hartley's best novel. The screenplay was written by Harold Pinter and the (melodramatic) music was composed by Michael Legrand.

Julie Christie as Marian Maudsley

In the novel, the elderly Leo Colston discovers a diary from the year 1900 in which is recorded the events of a summer he spent as a guest of the Maudsley family at Brandham Hall in Norfolk. During that summer, he stays with his school friend Marcus but, when Marcus develops measles, he is left to entertain himself and becomes embroiled in a tryst between Marcus' elder sister Marian and a local farmer called Ted Burgess.

At first, Leo finds it difficult to fit in at Brandham Hall but he is soon befriended by Marian and agrees to carry messages for her. The twelve year old is unaware of the true purpose of the messages - but he eventually realises and feels guilty for betraying Lord Trimingham - Marian's fiancée - played by Edward Fox.

The action takes place in the sizzling heat of a Norfolk summer and the film, although slow-paced, crackles with sexual energy. The climax of the story involves Mrs Maudsley extracting the truth from Leo and dragging him to Ted's farm where they discover the lovers having sex. Ted later commits suicide and the events of the summer have a profound effect on the rest of Leo's life - leaving him unable to form emotional attachments.

Running through the novel are are number of leitmotifs including signs of the Zodiac (hence Leo), poison e.g. belladonna (deadly nightshade) and the colour green - perhaps indicating Leo's naivety.

The Go Between is long overdue for a remake! (If you agree, please use our guestbook.)
 

Cast

Leo Colston - Dominic Guard

Marian Maudsley - Julie Christie

Ted Burgess - Alan Bates

Mr Maudsley - Michael Gough

Mrs Maudsley - Margaret Leighton

Lord Trimingham - Edward Fox

Old Leo - Michael Redgrave

 

Norfolk and Norwich Locations

In the novel Brandham Hall was based on Bradenham Hall which Hartley visited as a child. In the movie, Melton Constable Hall is used as the location for 'Brandham'. Melton Constable Hall lies in North Norfolk - several miles south-west of Holt. It has been the home of the Astley family for the last 300 years and its park was designed by Capability Brown.

Melton Constable Hall

Most of the action takes place in or around the hall and it provides a stunning backdrop. The hall was empty at the time of filming (and still is today) and so Edwardian furniture had to be shipped in. Ted Burgess' farm was located at Hanworth - but there is also a delightful shot of Burgess working in the fields with Melton Constable church tower in the background. The church has a distinctive tower with a pyramid roof and contains many memorials to the Astley family.

Losey also made use of many other Norfolk locations including: Hickling Broad for the swimming scene and Thornage village green for the cricket match. The privately owned village of Heydon featured frequently through out the film. Heydon Church was used when the Maudsley family go to worship and an historic cottage (top left) on Heydon village green was used repeatedly as a background shot and also for the final interior scene where Leo and Marian discuss the past.
 

House on Heydon Green

Heydon Church and green

Melton Hall


Leo's trip to Norwich to buy summer clothes features many familiar landmarks in and around Tombland. He and Marian have lunch at the Maid's Head Hotel on Wensum Street and then Leo walks on his own round the cathedral and the cathedral close.

Maids Head Hotel Norwich

Tombland Alley

Tombland: Location of Horse Auction

In the novel he meets up with Marian again under the statue of Sir Thomas Browne on the Haymarket but in the film they meet in Tombland where a horse auction is taking place. There is also a shot of Thorpe Station with some vintage cars parked outside.

Roger Lloyd Pack (aka Trigger), who also appeared in the film, bought a Norfolk cottage (near Holt) at the time and has used it as a bolt-hole ever since.

There is a book by Christopher Hartop entitled Norfolk Summer: Making the Go-Between which gives more details about locations and local involvement; it is published by John Adamson, Cambridge.
 

Links:

More Go-Between Location Photographs
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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