"The Shooting Party" Is Released

The Shooting Party is a 1985 film directed by Alan Bridges and based on a book by Isabel Colegate that won the 1981 WH Smith Literary Award.

The film is set in 1913 and shows the way of life of English aristocrats, gathered for pheasant shooting and general self-indulgence. Their way of life is contrasted with the local rural poor, who serve as 'beaters', driving the game for the aristocrats to shoot. There is also an early and very genteel animal-rights/socialist activist (played by John Gielgud).

This British Merchant-Ivory look-alike was adapted from a novel by Isabel Colgate. In the summer before World War I, British nobleman James Mason invites an assorted group of acquaintances for a weekend shooting party on his huge estate. Among the participants are longtime rivals Edward Fox and Rupert Frazer, Fox's occasionally unfaithful wife Cheryl Campbell, and staunch anti-hunting advocate John Gielgud. The film unfolds in a carefully calculated but seemingly spontaneous fashion, in the manner of its 1938 ancestor Rules of the Game. Also like the earlier film, The Shooting Party casts a jaundiced eye towards class consciousness--and ends with a sudden, senseless but not altogether unexpected tragedy. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide