THE MIGHTY BEAN

Sharpe

Three nice "on the set" pics, thanks to a very nice Mighty Bean Forum member.

 

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Sharpe DVD Covers

Thanks to Pudge : the covers of the series released in the Uk and the USA. Click twice for full size.

UK

    

 

USA

     

Sharpe's Rifles

By Richard Moore

Sergeant Richard Sharpe is a tough man. He's needed to be, serving in the British army in India against rebel princes. He keeps out of officers' way, looks after his men and wants a quiet life of drinking, womanising and a bit of regular swordplay against the French.

Smart though he is, Sharpe makes the mistake (career-wise) of saving the life of the British commander, General Wellesley, and is given a field commission to lieutenant. An honour, yes, but in the British army of 1808 raising a man from the ranks was fraught with difficulty as he then had to mix with those of better class. Still, Sharpe is bright, although his reading is poor.

 His troubles don't end with his social betters either, for the men under his command - the Chosen Men of the 95th Rifles - don't take to be ordered around by a man from the gutter, one who is not a proper officer. Set during the disastrous British retreat to Corunna in late 1808, Sharpe not only has to beat the pursuing French, but also win over his rough men led by the very large Sergeant Patrick Harper.

To add to his worries, he needs to escort a sacred Spanish icon deep within French territory and stay on good terms with the female leader of a group of guerrillas, known as The Needle. Don't ask why (it's too gruesome to recount).

As the first in a very lengthy series, Sharpe's Rifles has to quickly set the scene, interest you in the characters and then make sure there's enough action to keep you entertained. It is fair to say that it does the job very well indeed. The internal strife is handled as one would have expected in those times and Sharpe's own doubts about his position are well played by Sean Bean.

Brian Cox is excellent as the Irish intelligence officer Hogan and the stunning Assumpta Serna is striking as Sharpe's love interest Teresa. The uniforms and weaponry of the Napoleonic Era are spot on and some terrific photography is boosted by period music and military songs. Join up and march with Sharpe.

                                                        

Sharpe's Eagle

By Richard Moore Having proven himself as an officer to his men, if not a gentleman to his fellow commissioned officers, Richard Sharpe and the Chosen Men are attached to the South Essex regiment under Colonel Henry Simmerson.

The colonel is a snob and hates Sharpe from the outset and sets his two "pet" officers on to the upstart to get rid of him. Unfortunately for Simmerson he is sent on a mission into enemy territory where his lack of judgement and cowardice are put in to plain view.

 With the regiment disgraced, except for Sharpe and his men, the scene is set for terrible retribution at the Battle of Talavera where Simmerson plots his revenge.

Largely centred on the internal rivalries and hatreds within the regiment, Sharpe's Eagle is very good viewing.

 The battle scenes, particularly Talavera, are a tad lacking in troop numbers, but overall it retains interest through the characters. Michael Cochrane is great as the detestable Simmerson, Neil Dudgeon is restrained as the colonel's thick nephew and Daniel Craig plays a pretty mean villain.

                                

Sharpe's Company

By Richard Moore

Surviving the bloody storming of a breach at the French-held fortress of Ciudad Rodrigo, Richard Sharpe finds himself passed over by a rich officer who can purchase higher rank.

Despondent, Sharpe is quickly snapped back to reality by the arrival of an old foe, Sergeant Obidiah Hakeswill, who proceeds to make his life difficult. Through brown-nosing, brutality and bullying, Hakeswill worms his way into the good books of the senior officers of the South Essex and when he gets a chance to get Sergeant Harper punished for a crime he did not commit is set to rule the rank and file.

Seeing his men suffering, but being powerless to catch Hakeswill at his deplorable game, Sharpe concentrates on winning promotion - a matter only guaranteed by leading a suicidal party into the breach of the next fortress at Badajoz.

To make his determination even stronger, he discovers that his lover Teresa is in the city spying for the British and he needs to get to her before the usual orgy of destruction and debauchery by victorious troops overwhelms her.

And, if the French fail to kill him, there is always the murderous Hakeswill to try. Sharpe's Company is one of the better movies in the first episodes of the series, with clearly more resources being given to the production team.

The script is good, the characters, particularly Hakeswill (played by the brilliant Pete Postlethwaite) are well rounded and the action fast paced.

                                  

Sharpe's Enemy

By Richard Moore

Now if you are bored with the usual television fare and feel the need for some excitement, then spending an hour-and-a-half-plus with this excellent drama will do you no harm.

Imagine this. Fighting between British and French, French and French, British and British and, the chance to see the lovely Liz Hurley in an acting role, means this is one of the picks of the entire Sharpe series. A renegade multi-national army of deserters under Pot au Feu and the former sergeant (now colonel) Hakeswill, has captured a town - and with it the wife of a leading British military figure.

Lord Farthingdale approaches Sir Arthur Wellesley for help in getting his wife (Liz Hurley) back and his arrogant, rude and cowardly behaviour makes even those who love overblown buffoons hate him. The task is given to Richard Sharpe to rescue the lady in question and the plots and sub plots with this movie make it a real cracker. For not only has Sharpe to deal with the large force of deserters, but a major French attack column is also on the move to take the town he occupies and then push its way through into British territory.

The action is excellent and the varying levels of storyline really work well. It could be the fact it remains reasonably true to the book, but also the terrific performances from Hurley, Pete Postlethwaite and Philip Whitchurch, as Sharpe's new ally in Captain Frederickson of the 60th Rifles.The scene where he and his men meet Sharpe and the 95th's Chosen Men is a treat

Added to by a huge dose of tragedy, Sharpe's Enemy is one of the best of the entire series and is an essential part of the collection.

                                                

Sharpe's Honour

By Richard Moore

There are very few screen nasties who show up with as much resilience as Major Pierre Ducos.

Ruthless, but a bit of a wimp when it comes to blade-through-the-guts action, Ducos is a personal enemy of Richard Sharpe following their altercation after the tragedy in Sharpe's Enemy. Fed up with his side being humiliated by the low-class Englishman, Ducos sets in train a plan that will not only kill Sharpe, but lead to the end of Spanish resistance against France.

To this end he calls upon the services of the masterful spy, La Marquesa (Alice Krige) who is blackmailed by the conniving Ducos into backing his operation, which sees Sharpe charged with murder and sentenced to be executed by hanging.

What follows is an excellent action adventure filled with intrigue and a terrific love-hate relationship between Sharpe and the woman he blames for his predicament. Escaping, Sharpe finds himself not only battling the Catholic church, a murderous brigand with a penchant for slicing victims into pieces, a wilful and beautiful woman, but also his own army.

Krige is sensational as the seductive La Marquesa and Nickolas Grace plays a politically minded priest with absolute conviction. Sharpe's Honour is definitely a cut above the rest.

                                  

Sharpe's Gold

By Richard Moore

Hmmmmmm. All that glisters is not gold, and all that's gold isn't necessarily fantastic value. Unfortunately, this is the case with Sharpe's Gold, a movie that just doesn't quite fit into the larger picture of the series.

Bess and Ellie Nugent are stubborn relatives of the Duke of Wellington and they ride into camp one day on a search for their husband/father who has gone missing while making maps. Of course that sort of things happens all the time in war, but the lost man was last seen in an area that is supposed to be run by pagan-worshipping descendants of the Conquistadors. There is even talk of human sacrifice.

Ever the ladies man, Richard Sharpe becomes quite fond of the young Ellie but finds himself unwillingly escorting the pair on the hunt for their loved one. Not only does he have to be on the lookout for the French, but he needs to defend his troops against the British provosts who take a great deal of pleasure in hanging soldiers who so much as steal a chicken.

There are some nice twists in the storyline, the characters good and the action scenes are fine but Sharpe's Gold just never quite strikes the right chord. Perhaps it's the slight deviation into the supernatural that takes it over the edge.

It does, however, introduce the new intelligence officer for the series. Hugh Ross plays Mungo Munro, a dour Scot with a penchant for the pipes, and does it with a great deal of style. Sharpe's Gold will be enjoyed by Sharpeophiles, but if it's not in your collection the series does not suffer at all.

                            

Sharpe's Battle

By Richard Moore

It just isn't fair. Not at all. Why the hell should Richard Sharpe not only get o cross blades with the French all the time, but also get to meet a whole series of beautiful ladies.

Fair makes you sick. And, in Sharpe's Battle, our lad gets to cast eyes upon a stunning English rose in the shape of the long-suffering Lady Kiely (Allie Byrne).

Lady Kiely is married to an aristocratic wannabe soldier who dreams of battlefield glory, but is instead assigned to command an Irish company of troops that forms part of the King of Spain's bodyguard.

With a French force operating nearby, under the vicious Brigadier Loup, and the daily threat of an Irish mutiny in the British ranks, Sharpe has to teach Kiely and his men the not-so-gentle art of war. However, Kiely has to also learn the not-so-gentle art of picking the right woman as he is sidetracked into an affair with a female Spanish partisan leader.

Things become even uglier when his troops start to desert and an assault by a vengeful Loup has everyone's life on the line. Sharpe's Battle is good viewing and its characterisations give it an involving edge.

                                            

Sharpe's Sword

By Richard Moore

Sniffing out treachery, committing violence, avoiding torture and saving a young lass in deep trouble is all in the line of duty for our hero Richard Sharpe.

Ranged against our flawed fighting man is a ruthless (with a capital R) French colonel, a traitor, Sir Henry (I'm a complete cad) Simmerson and an Irish priest who has no love for the English. He is also up against a former novice nun who has rejected the church and has taken a major liking to getting into his uniform.

Adding to his woes, Sharpe finds to his dismay that he can be badly injured, can face fever and death, and may not be the all-conquering fighter he has been to date.

Sharpe's Sword is a really good adventure that throws twists, turns and shimmies around with abandon. There is plenty of action, a good plot, terrific actors and a real sense of belonging to the characters.

Emily Mortimer is the love interest and she is truly lovely. James Purefoy is admirably manly as the exploring officer Lord Spears, Michael Cochrane is excruciatingly easy to strangle as Simmerson and Walter McDonagle, who sings such a beautiful song it reduces our man Sharpe to tears.

                                        

Sharpe's Regiment

By Richard Moore

With the regiment close to being split into batches of reserves for other units, Sharpe and Harper have to return to England and work out why the South Essex's 2nd battalion has not been sending reinforcements to Spain.

They discover the barracks has been in operation and the men have marched off, but exactly where and why is another matter. Rejoining their own regiment, they sign on as common soldiers and have to put up with the brutality of military life in the Georgian era.

Among the key brutes is a complete wusser called Colonel Girdwood (very well played by Mark Lambert) who twitches his tarred moustache as well as he trains men.

Our heroes discover that Sir Henry Simmerson has an interest in the missing soldiers, as does Lord Fenner (a vile version of Nicholas Farrell), the man in charge of the army, and among other things face assassination, murder, and one heck of a bad time.

Set almost exclusively in England, Sharpe's Regiment is a great view of the times there and is one of the high points of the series.

                                  

Sharpe's Siege

By Richard Moore

The new commander of the South Essex is about to join the regiment and so a disappointed Sharpe heads out for a meal with his new wife, Jane.

At the cosy eatery a drunken snob challenges our hero to a duel but, after discovering who his opponent will be, quickly offers an apology. Sharpe is about to fillet him anyway when it is pointed out that Colonel Bamfylde is actually his new superior officer.

So from those inauspicious beginnings, Sharpe's career sets off on another downwards plunge - until he is called on for action and there's plenty of that in this excellent movie.

Sharpe is called on to use his military skills to assist a seaborne raid of France that will involve capturing a castle and supporting a revolt that will open the way for Wellington to advance. Needless to say, the operation is sabotaged, badly handled and ruined by the various characters and it is only Sharpe who has the military nouse to save his men from capture or death.

There is also a brilliantly funny scene where an exhausted Sharpe decides not to take advantage of a rather cute French woman who offers her virginity to try to get hold of quinine that may save her mother from a virulent fever.

Sounds terrible, but it really does show that Sean Bean has the man Sharpe down pat by this stage of the series.

 The plot, action sequences and script carry you along on a truly excellent adventure. Sharpe's Siege is one of the best, if not the best, in the whole lineup.

It is terrific from go to whoa and there is not one wasted moment. A must have!

                                

Sharpe's Mission

By Richard Moore

It's not often that Richard Sharpe is fooled, but in Sharpe's Mission, his judgement is shown to be far from perfect. A man Sharpe believes is a far greater hero than himself is actually a French collaborator who loves to kill people for pleasure.

Ruthless and arrogant beyond belief, this chappie reckons he can fool Sharpe a second time and lead him, as well as Major Ross, into captivity.

Well, as we all know, it takes a pretty hard man to get the better of Sharpie - but this time around he may be so befuddled by his damned wife that he can't think straight.

Sharpe's Mission is to escort the baddies behind enemy lines and blow up a massive French arms depot, a task that needs the expertise of the badly injured Pyecroft who now wears a hood to cover his burn scars.

Willing to always help his false-hero, Sharpe eventually finds that many friends and foes die in strange circumstances and the only answer is betrayal.

This is possibly the pick of the entire series with friendship, passion, betrayal and a whole host of really good actors playing some really well crafted parts.

A must have.

                           

Sharpe's Revenge

By Richard Moore

Poor old Sharpie. It doesn't seem to matter just how well things are going at the start of his movies, things turn all to crap within minutes of the intro.

This time around the good news is that the Peninsular War is just about over. Napoleon's troops have been pushed out of Spain and back into France and the battle for Toulouse is about to begin.

Getting a bit nervous (finally) about his chances of surviving, and a tad suspect about living the life of a gentleman back in old England, our Sharpe has a deep and meaningful with his wife Jane about his prospects.

The bad news begins when, during this D and M, he signs over all his wealth to the flighty creature, who makes him promise that this is his last battle.

Needless to say, he is forced by honour to break the promise and so Mrs Sharpe sails for England leaving him behind, but taking his money.

Things get worse when his nemesis, Major Pierre Ducos, reappears and sets him up by stealing a massive amount of French gold and blaming it upon Sharpe.

In order to clear his name our lad has to leg it to Normandy, discover the truth and then prove it in court to avoid execution.

If that's not enough he has to put up with his wife in the bed of a former friend, Lord John Rossendale. This twist in the romantic life of Richard Sharpe has you really getting to hate Jane, and Abigail Cruttenden deserves a special mention for making her a completely loathsome individual.

Sharpe's Revenge is very good entertainment with a good plot, good fight scenes and an above average interest level in the characters.

                                          

Sharpe's Justice

By Richard Moore

The follow-up to Sharpe's Revenge, this movie has Richard Sharpe and Sergeant Harper back in Britain where the only positions open to them are in the Yorkshire Yeomanry.

Not thrilled with going back to his native county, Sharpe is even less happy when a orphan-house rival begins taking pot shots at him and kills his horse.

So imagine just how peeved he gets when he discovers that his estranged wife and her new beau have inherited a run-down mansion just over the hills and not far away.

In addition to the romance sub plot, Sharpe and Harper have to contend with mill burners, riotous mobs and a wonderfully nasty aristocratic yeomanry officer (Douglas Henshall).

Sharpe's Justice has its fair share of action, but it is more a look at life at home in Georgian times and is nicely held together by a good plot.

                         

Sharpe's Waterloo

By Richard Moore

There he is, happy on his farm in Normandy with the loving Lucille when that arch-cad Bonaparte escapes from exile and reclaims power in France.

What to do, our hero, Richard Sharpe, asks himself. Well, always being one for cutting up Frenchmen he does what any decent Englishman would do - albeit one living in his enemy's country - and joins up to fight them.

 Offered a position on the young Prince of Orange's staff, he is joined by his old comrades Riflemen Harris and Hagman and is later joined by horse trader extraordinaire, former Sergeant Patrick Harper.

Through the clash at Quatre Bras and the tense lead up to the ultimate battle at Waterloo, Sharpe and his friends have to fight Frenchmen, the much-maligned Prince of Orange and his past.

His horrid trollope of a wife, Jane, journeys with her lover to Brussels unaware of Sharpe's presence and the sorting out of that tangled mess adds a much needed zest to the proceedings.

Sadly, the battle scenes are limited, the events in the battle loose with fact, but despite this those of us who have spent hours with the Chosen Men on their adventures will enjoy it.

Of all the late-series episodes made, this is one of the disappointments.

Considering the popularity of the Sharpe series, its climax should have been a full-blown, no-holds barred depiction of one of history's most crucial battles - unfortunately, it fizzles more than sizzles.

                         

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