The Frock Flicks team spends a lot of time working through our backlogs on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, BritBox, Acorn, and broadcast cable to watch historical costume movies and TV shows. We’ll even go out to a theater to see a movie some days. Alas, not every flick set in the past is worth our time (though check our our archives of reviews by using the search box!).
We gotta tell ya: There are a lot of crappy historical costume movies and TV shows out there! Not everything’s bad enough for Snark Week — some are just weak tea. These are boring movies, the dull shows, the ones with mediocre costumes and stories that can’t even rise up to the level of camp entertainment. Or the ones that are mildly entertaining, maybe have ‘good-enough’ costuming, or are moderately snark-worthy, but we can’t be arsed to work up a sweat about it.
Thus, here’s a continuing series with our one-line reviews of things we’ve tried to watch but just don’t care enough about to write a whole blog post or podcast. Your mileage may vary!
Crooked House (2017)
A 1949-set, one-off Agatha Christie TV movie in the vein of Witness for the Prosecution and And Then There Were None. It’s fine – good performances from Christina Hendricks as the sweetly ditzy American showgirl turned widow, Glenn Close as the mole-shooting wacky aunt, and Gillian Anderson as the hand-staple-forehead theater actress. And lead Max Irons is totally growing on me, hotness-wise. But it lacks the atmosphere and design fabulosity of Then There Were None, and while everyone could have been the culprit, I didn’t totally care. Worth a watch! Just don’t expect your socks to be blown off. — Kendra
The Duchess of Duke Street (1976-1977)
So many of you recommended this BBC series, and I do love the ’70s classics, so I dove in. But two long, tedious episodes about plucky Edwardian cook Louisa making her way up in a London manor house and impressing the Prince of Wales, and I still didn’t care. The costumes are all servant-wear, so many caps and aprons (though at least they’re wearing corsets ‘n hairpins ‘n stuff, it’s all proper kit). Apparently, it’s not until episode five that her real love interest appears, and folks, I just don’t have enough time for that. I’ve got a life and a blog to run! — Trystan
From Time to Time (2009)
A very twee story about a kid in 1940s England who finds he can travel back into his own family’s history while staying in his grandmother’s rambling old mansion. Grandmom is played by Maggie Smith, and his ancestors include Hugh Bonneville and Carice van Houten (Melisandre from Game of Thrones), so good actors. But it’s a very lightweight and predictable tale. — Trystan
I was worried about watching this film, because the previews made it seem like it was way too focused on the White Man’s Experience, and because boringly-dressed Westerns aren’t usually my thing. Well, I was right that the Native American characters were way too cartoon-ish and un-fleshed out, and the 1892 frontier-wear wasn’t terribly exciting, but it’s a well-made and well-acted movie, so there’s that. The story focuses on a military guy (Christian Bale) who has been fighting Indians most of his life; he has to escort a native chief (Wes Studi, who you know from The Last of the Mohicans and many other films) who is being released from prison after a number of years. The movie explores the psychology of war and the native/white conflict, which is interesting, but yeah, they totally forgot to actually include the native perspective on things. Rosamund Pike (Pride & Prejudice & Pigs) is compelling as a woman who’s family is murdered by Native Americans and who joins the expedition, and has her own emotional journey. But I just don’t get how, in this day and age, you can forget to include non-white perspectives. — Kendra
The Little Hours (2017)
This is a REALLY FUCKING FUNNY MOVIE. Go watch it and laugh your ass off! It’s historical and obscene, two things we love here in Frock Flicks land. However, there is basically no costume content. The characters are all medieval nuns wearing habits that seem fine for 14th-century Italy, but it’s all the same outfit on every actress. — Trystan
I do think I would have loved this more if I’d seen this in the theater with my other Frock Flicks bitches, and with cocktails, but, agreed! — Kendra
This is a very stupid movie. No idea why I watched, I was probably drunk, it was on cable, and I thought that Game of Thrones‘ Kit Harington running around bare-legged would be entertaining. Newp. Let this be a warning to you all! — Trystan
The Terror (2018)
The story of the Franklin expedition, a late 1840s attempt to find the Northwest Passage through the Canadian arctic — with bonus supernatural/scary critter. Lots o’ hotties — Ciarian Hinds, Tobias Menzies — and episode one started off strong (I was worried it would be super boy-centric, but I was definitely entertained). There are some quick flashbacks to England with a few female characters (including Greta Sccachi as Lady Jane Franklin), but they’re just blips. What I’m most interested in is apparently there will be some serious attempts to portray Inuit characters realistically … fingers crossed! — Kendra
Woman in Gold (2015)
The modern-day, based-on-a-true story of a Jewish-American woman (Helen Mirren) who fled the Nazis when they took over Vienna. Her family was wealthy, and owned a number of important and expensive paintings by Gustav Klimt, many of which featured her aunt. The film focuses on her legal fight to regain ownership of her family’s paintings, but there are flashbacks to her childhood in the 1910s and marriage/escape in the 1940s. It does hit the Conventional Biopic/Fighting the System notes, and it’s definitely high quality … just not enough historical costume content to review! — Kendra
Do you love one of these historical costume movies or TV shows? What else should we remove from our queue? Have you searched our site recently to see if we’ve already reviewed your faves?