Sex, humor and even a facsimile of style distinguish Michael Winner’s entertaining remake of The Wicked Lady as a comedy-drama of rogue-ridden 17th-century England with Faye Dunaway an effective title star.
Winner, who co-authored the piece with [director of the 1945 version] Leslie Arliss [based on The Life and Death of the Wicked Lady Skelton by Magdalen King-Hall], has pumped some amusing life and typically brisk pace into a basically tired old (and even campy) story about an alluring high society dame for whom seduction, highway robbery and even murder are all in a day’s work.
After marrying Denholm Elliott for his money, Dunaway turns to a life of nocturnal crime, solo at first, but later in cahoots with legendary stagecoach robber Alan Bates.
Dunaway performs her dominating role with satisfying conviction, straight face and all. Ditto Elliott as her scorned and cuckolded husband. Bates makes for a charming but all-too-brief rogue, while John Gielgud as a God-fearing retainer has a marvelous deadpan time of it kidding himself.