American Friends

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Movie Info

Michael Palin plays an Oxford don with acute female trouble in this film. While on holiday, Palin crosses the path of an American tourist and her adopted daughter. Both women express an inordinate desire for the bookish Palin, leading to profound changes in the lives of all concerned.


Michael Palin
as Reverend Francis Ashby
Trini Alvarado
as Miss Elinor Hartley
Connie Booth
as Caroline
David Calder
as Pollitt
Simon Jones
as Anderson
Simon James
as Anderson
Sheila Reid
as Mrs. Weeks
Ian Dunn
as Gowers
John Nettleton
as Reverend Groves
Roger Lloyd-Pack
as Doctor Butler
Jimmy Jewel
as Ashby Senior
Fred Pearson
as Hapgood
Susan Denaker
as Mrs. Cantrell
Markus Gehrig
as Swiss Guide
Jo Stone-Fewings
as Undergraduate `King Lear'
Charles Simon
as Canon Harper
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Critic Reviews for American Friends

All Critics (4) | Fresh (2) | Rotten (2)

Audience Reviews for American Friends

  • Jul 15, 2009
    Depending on your degree of cynicism, you could call "American Friends" a sweet, pastoral romance or just an arthouse rehash of the "Grease" plot (two lovers meet on vacation but have problems when back in their usual circles). Most people (including me) will seek out this film because Monty Python's Michael Palin is the star and co-writer. The script is based on his own great-grandfather's experiences. But don't be fooled -- despite the presence of Palin and Connie Booth ("Fawlty Towers"), "American Friends" has few, if any, laughs. Yet both actors are quite solid in these dramatic roles. The setting is Victorian times, the era of polite repression and woolly sideburns. Palin is Reverend Francis Ashby, an Oxford administrator poised to take over the university from its dying, elderly chancellor. All is well until he visits the Swiss Alps and meets pretty Elinor (Trini Alvarado) and her spinster aunt (Booth). Realizing he could violate his school's ferocious moral code, he ducks out early and returns home. But when Elinor and Caroline unexpectedly turn up at Oxford, his feelings resurface and a scandal threatens. The cast also features Alfred Molina as Ashby's devious rival, along with many other actors faced with temporary shaving issues. "American Friends" looks wonderful with its sparkling sunlight, mountain scenery and Oxford's stately architecture. But the story is too mild, and the age difference between the leads is awkward. Palin is 24 years older than Alvarado, and the gap between their characters is even wider. We're supposed to root for their love, but this is difficult when Francis is in his late forties and ingenue Elinor seems barely legal.
    Eric B Super Reviewer
  • Mar 26, 2008
    <i>''We will achieve nothing as a species if we cannot adapt.'' </i> Francis Ashby, a senior Oxford don on holiday alone in the Alps, meets holidaying American Caroline and her companion Elinor, the blossoming Irish-American girl she adopted many years before. Ashby finds he enjoys their company together, particularly that of Elinor, and both the women are drawn to him. Back at Oxford he is nevertheless taken aback when they arrive unannounced. Women are not allowed in the College grounds, let alone the rooms. Indeed any liaison, however innocent, is frowned on. <b>Michael Palin</b>: Reverend Francis Ashby <b>Alfred Molina</b>: Oliver Syme <b>Susan Denaker</b>: Mrs. Cantrell <i>American Friends</i> is a movie that tells of a bygone era that isn't as long as it seems. The difference in social ideals compared today is always fascinating. Michael Palin has proven before he is more than a comedian from seeing <i>Brazil</i> to a <i>Fish Called Wanda</i>. <i>American Friends</i> is also an example indeed. Loved the scientific side of life in the lectures. Alfred Molina gives a varied performance even having a scruffy beard to boot. On a whole the film does have a feel of being something of TV standing as opposed to something of grandeur in filming. Granted I'm an Englishman that enjoys his period flicks and loves history so it gains more prestige with me for its wonderful costumes and quaint locations. A simple tale of love which i admit has been done before. A good effort. <CENTER><i>Education in love</i></CENTER>
    Alexander C Super Reviewer
  • Feb 09, 2007
    Average period drama
    Ross C Super Reviewer

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