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FELLOW TRAVELLER (SCREEN TWO TV SERIES) (director: Philip Saville; screenwriter: Michael Eaton; cinematographer: John Kenway; editor: Greg Miller; music: Colin Towns; cast: Ron Silver (Asa Kaufman), Hart Bochner (Clifford Byrne), Imogen Stubbs (Sarah Atchison), Katherine Borowitz (Joan Kaufman), Daniel J. Travanti (Jerry Leavy), Richard Wilson (Sir Hugo Armstrong); Runtime: 91; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producer: Michael Wearing; Prism Entertainment (BFI/BBC/HBO); 1991-UK/USA)
A savvy British political drama.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A savvy British political drama directed by Philip Saville(“Metroland”/”Fruit Machine”/”Secrets”) and written by Michael Eaton for a TV series filmed in England, that covers the 1950s purge in America of commies by the extreme right-wing. It’s the story of a blacklisted Hollywood screen-writer, Asa Kaufman (Ron Silver), who during the McCarthy-era goes into a self-imposed exile in Britain to find work rather than remain in America and face a HUAC subpoena.

It opens in Hollywood, in 1954, where matinee idol film star Clifford Byrne (Hart Bochner) shoots himself by his luxury swimming pool. Meanwhile his anguished blacklisted pal Asa Kaufman has run away from America to seek work in London. Through flashbacks we trace the relationship of the two best friends. Asa takes a new name and gets work on the new TV series called The Adventures of Robin Hood. He also seeks out Cliff’s Brit girlfriend Sarah (Imogen Stubbs) and has a brief fling with her.

Asa is the cynic, who tries to survive in a foreign environment.

Though simplistic in its black and white attitudes of the day, it does a fine job recreating the mood and paranoia of those dark days for libertarians and paints a realistic picture involving the inner workings of independent TV in the UK.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”