Based on a story by H.E. Bates, Dulcima sees Carol White playing the title character, a young woman trying to escape her own family’s trappings of poverty in the rural West Country of England – well Gloucestershire to be exact!
Opening with farmer Parker (played brilliantly by Mills) driving his jeep and trailer recklessly along winding country lanes and finally coming to a juddering halt when he crashes into his own chicken run. Dulcima goes to help him when she sees him collapse and pass out. She realises that there is more to Mr Parker than first meets the eye when she finds lots of cash stuffed into the inside of his hat, an accessory that fell off when he collapsed. She then decides that the drunken and wily widower Parker might be her ticket out of the gutter that she currently inhabits with her demanding and slovenly parents and equally demanding siblings.
Dulcima slowly worms her way into the old curmudgeon’s life, and heart, as she first cleans his cluttered house and then cooks him meals and generally makes a fuss of him. At first he’s a little suspicious, but soon comes to realise that he actually enjoys her company and appreciates having a woman’s touch in and around his home. It’s not long before he’s taken her on as a live-in house keeper and, shortly thereafter, as his live-in lover, of sorts.
Unfortunately the arrival on the scene of handsome gamekeeper, Ashby, causes complications when Dulcima begins to migrate towards him, frequently leaving the now besotted Parker to muddle on himself. It’s not long before suspicion and jealousy raise their spiteful heads and tempers are frayed and… well that would be telling. But suffice to say it all leads to a dramatic and rather sad climax.
Dulcima is chiefly of note for its tour-de-force performances by White and Mills who are both great as the ultimate mismatched romantic pairing. In fact it’s their rather sweet relationship that holds one’s interest throughout. It’s obvious that to begin with the younger woman is just stringing the cantankerous farmer along, but she clearly becomes quite fond of him by the end, which makes the dramatic conclusion even more bittersweet.
Not that it’s all doom and gloom; it’s a fun film and is pretty amusing for most of its running time, and it’s also nice to see (Sir) John Mills playing a very different sort of role for him.
The film is nicely shot and edited in a suitable style for the kind of story being told here. The lush English countryside is suitably shown off with some great shots of rolling fields and hills bathed in that very pleasing golden light.
Dulcima’s story is a slight, but affecting one and I would recommend this to those who like their relationship movies a bit on the quirky, offbeat side.
Dulcima has recently been released on DVD and is being distributed by Network Distributing who are currently releasing lots of these rarer British film titles, many of which are pretty decent.
Extras consist of two trailers for the film, one in English and one in Italian (I think), and a stills gallery with approx. twenty photos from the film (and some from scenes which were probably shot but not used, or maybe they were publicity shots) and a few posters, obviously aimed at different markets as some are more risqué than others.