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Lesley-Anne Down is an actress who has starred in a surprising number of historical costume movies. She’s probably very talented and a lovely person, let’s get that out of the way.
It’s not the least bit her fault that she did a number of historical movies and TV shows during the 1980s, and hey, mad props that she’s still working today — but I can’t help but notice that she’s the connecting thread amongst a TON of smokey eyeshadow and Dynasty hair.
So with full knowledge that that was the era, and hey, blame the costume designers, makeup artists, and really the people in charge, let’s take a wander through Lesley-Anne’s AquaNetted glory:
Countess Dracula (1971)
Essentially Erzabet Bathory as vampire.
Pope Joan (1972)
The (mythical) story of a woman who impersonated a man and became pope in the “medieval era.”
Upstairs, Downstairs (1973-5)
The classic upper-class and servants story set in early 20th-century London and where Down appears to have really taken off. She plays Georgina Worsley, a relative who comes to live with the fam after her parents die in the Titanic sinking. She was a nurse during WWI, then turns party girl in the 1920s, only to settle down and marry.
A Little Night Music (1977)
The film version of the Sondheim musical, set around the turn of the century. Down plays the virginal wife during a farcical country house weekend.
The Great Train Robbery (1978)
Where it starts getting good: in the 1850s, she’s the mistress of an upper-class thief and joins in his heist of, you guessed it, a train.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1982)
She’s Esmerelda, the gypsy lady to Anthony Hopkins’s hunchback! Insert head necklaces and shitty hair!
The Last Days of Pompeii (1984)
Summed up by the title, but is Chloe really a classical name?
North and South (1985)
Boobs are everywhere in this tale of northerners and southerners before, during, and after the Civil War! Lesley-Anne Down plays Madeline, the kindly, blushing southern belle trapped in a loveless marriage to an abusive husband and secretly in love with Patrick Swayze’s mullet.
North and South, Book II (1986)
The story continues. Don’t ask me.
Heaven & Hell: North & South, Book III (1994)
Why, I ask you?
Beastmaster III: The Eye of Braxus (1996)
Okay, probably not historical, but hilarious nonetheless! As “Morgana,” who, I am guessing, is a witch.
Alright, still working! Go Lesley-Anne! “A U.S. Marshal seeking justice for his brother’s murder defends a small town from a corrupt mayor and his henchmen with intents to revive the civil war.”
Coming Soon: Of God and Kings
“Prima Ballerina Annalise is invited to dance La Traviata in Venice. Her risqué past comes to haunt her as she finds love in the ballet.”
Which is your favorite of Lesley-Anne Down’s perms?
You are missing a treat, you Amedicans, she was absolutely fabulous in the One and Only Phyllis Dixey (1978). Sadly it is one of those movies impossible to find.
You ladies really should do a piece about The Great Train Robbery. It’s peak Victorian, and shows a mix of all sorts social classes. Plus, it’s actually a pretty amusing movie.
Having said all that, I kinda have a soft spot in my heart for Lesley Anne Down, for some reason. MY elder sister was suuuuuuuuuuper obsessed with North and South, and write fan letters to like the entire cast, and Ms. Down wrote a back (had had written and sent back) a very sweet response.
It’s a good movie, although some of Lesley Ann’s costumes have a “I went shopping at Frederick’s of Hollywood in the 80s!” vibe
Chloe actually is a classical name! There’s a Greek novel from the 2nd century AD called Daphnis and Chloe. Doesn’t help the costumes though.
I was going to say this. :-) And it seems probable to me that there could be a Greek woman in Pompeii. Maybe as a slave? Or just through migration within the Roman Empire.
Darn. Now I’ve got to look up Beastmaster III. NO WAY that was actually filmed in 1996. Who’s up for betting this is one that sat on the shelf for about 8 – 10 years before someone said, “Oh, heck, we might as well just release it!” ? [pun intended]
It’s hard! The hair is screaming 80s but the makeup is telling me 90s
Oooo… good point! Seeing more images, the guys have early 90s hair. Hmmm… Beastmaster 2 has a 1991 date, so maybe III was actually made in 93/94?
The Great Train Robbery as it has Sean Connery in it.
My fav is Acetate & Polyester book III, hands down; Not the perm, but that orange dress! faints… Sad thing, it could be okay with just about any other fabric… Well, okay may not be the word, but sure better!
Anthony “Adorable” Andrews
Upstairs Downstairs of course. One of the good old costume dramas I grew up on, and [make up aside] pretty good for its day. I think. lol
I like her in this…watching it now. She was very lovely.
Great Train Robbery because, IIRC, there’s a scene in which she shaves her legs with a straight razor.
now THAT takes boobs of steel to do that!
the really sad thing is actors have NO control over what the sadistic costumers and directors put them in. I know I’ve seen actors cringe with disgust while putting on their costumes, knowing it was baboon butt ugly and wrong. but the good ones still attempt to work with it, the great ones can make you over look the stupid they’re stuck wearing. ah, a directors “vision” is sometimes a very terrifying thing.
Those HEELS in Pompeii! So absolutely egregious….
I SAW THOSE!!!
AH things are starting to make sense now about N&S! I checked out wikipedia, learned that the future holds a lot of “vowing revenge” by Brunette and others, and that my vague memories are most likely from book 2 episode 2.
Poor Lesley Ann. She does look good in the most recent one, and I bet she’s glad not to have crazy 80s hair.
What is that pic at the top from? She totally looks like Tim Curry in The Rocky Horror Picture Show in that one!
She also starred in a WWII drama with Harison Ford, Hanover Street. Her makeup was still fairly blue eyeshadowy but mostly alright. https://www.sonychannel.co.uk/programs/hanover-street-0
I regret that I cannot unsee that Pompeii costume, oh my!
Hey! Why you missed “The princess and the swordsman”? That’s really Lesley-Anne Down in all her glory! ;-) And extra low budget stupid movie!