The Bostonians (1984) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Bostonians (1984)

The Bostonians (1984)

The Bostonians




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

Adapted by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala from the novel by Henry James, Merchant/Ivory's The Bostonians is set among the Back Bay uppercrust of the 19th century. Basil Ransom (Christopher Reeve), bored by his opulent lifestyle and his "proper" friends, is fascinated by his cousin, outspoken suffragette Olive Chancellor (Vanessa Redgrave). Basil and Olive's mutual friend is likeable, gregarious Verena Tannant (Madeleine Potter). Soon a triangle develops, albeit an unorthodox one: Basil and Olive both find themselves pursuing Verena, Basil because he is in love with her, and Olive because she wants to exploit Verena's social connections and gift for public speaking to promote her own political ideology. Lurking in the background is Verena's true love, poor-but-honest attorney Henry Burrage (John Van Ness).more
Rating: R
Genre: Drama, Romance
Directed By:
Written By: Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
In Theaters:
On DVD: May 5, 1998
Rank Organisation


Christopher Reeve
as Basil Ransome
Madeleine Potter
as Verena Tarrant
Vanessa Redgrave
as Olive Chancellor
Jessica Tandy
as Miss Birdseye
Nancy Marchand
as Mrs. Burrage
Wesley Addy
as Dr. Tarrant
Barbara Bryne
as Mrs. Tarrant
Linda Hunt
as Dr. Prance
Nancy New
as Adeline Luna
John Van Ness Philip
as Henry Burrage
Wallace Shawn
as Mr. Pardon
Maura Moynihan
as Henrietta Stackpole
Martha Farrar
as Mrs. Farrinder
Peter Bogyo
as Mr. Gracie
Barbara Byrne
as Mrs. Tarrant
Charles McCaughan
as Music-Hall Policeman
J. Lee Morgan
as Music-Hall Official
Lee Doyle
as Mr. Filer
Jon Van Ness
as Henry Burrage
Janet Cicchese
as Irish Washerwoman
Scott Kradolfer
as Tough Boy
June Mitchell
as Party Guest
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Bostonians

Critic Reviews for The Bostonians

All Critics (9) | Top Critics (4)

Full Review… | October 23, 2004
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Merchant Ivory screen adaptation of Henry James' novel is handsome, but suffers from the miscasting of Christopher Reeve and Madeleine Potter, though Vanessa Redgrave is decent.

Full Review… | June 12, 2005

absorbing drama

May 28, 2005
Classic Film and Television

Audience Reviews for The Bostonians


Christopher Reeve is good if a bit stiff and Vanessa Redgrave is exquisite as always but the pace is slow and the central character and lead actress lack a radiance and fire that is essential for the story to engage.

jay nixon

Super Reviewer

An early Merchant-Ivory offering. It frankly just isn't very good. Poor Christopher Reeve had real problems when he had to stretch himself.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer


A bit Slow but interesting Film about a an unusual Love Triangle between two Suffragette's(Vanessa Redgrave & Madeleine Potter) & a Spoiled Upper Class Cousin(Christopher Reeve) of one of them, during the struggle for Women's Equality in the 19th Century Boston.This Lovely Actress/Speaker becomes caught in an Emotional Love "Taffy Pull" between two very controlling, Want To Be, Lovers, Olive(Redgrave) & Basil(Reeve), & her Loyalties are pulled & tugged at till it nearly breaks her.This Book must have been very controversial at the time as it hints at Lesbianism that is suppressed by the times.A Lovely & Historically Provocative film, albeit a bit slow.

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