Inside Film

Far too risqué or far too tame: Why has Lady Chatterley’s Lover never really worked on screen?

A new version of ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ is due to be released on Netflix later this year starring The Crown’s Emma Corrin but, says Geoffrey Macnab, filmmakers are never likely to find a satisfactory recipe, regardless of how often they keep on tinkering with the main ingredients

<p>Marina Hands as Lady Chatterley and Jean-Louis Coulloc’h as the gamekeeper Oliver Mellors, starring in Pascale Ferran’s ‘Lady Chatterley’ in 2006 – it won the Cesar Award for Best Film in 2007 </p>

Marina Hands as Lady Chatterley and Jean-Louis Coulloc’h as the gamekeeper Oliver Mellors, starring in Pascale Ferran’s ‘Lady Chatterley’ in 2006 – it won the Cesar Award for Best Film in 2007

Advance information about the new Netflix version of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, due to be released later this year, is skimpy. We know that Emma Corrin (Princess Diana from The Crown) is playing Lady Constance Chatterley and that former Skins actor Jack O’Connell is the strapping gamekeeper, Oliver Mellors, with whom she has a torrid affair. The film is directed by Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre from a screenplay by David Magee who, a little incongruously, also wrote Mary Poppins Returns

It’s a fair bet there will be some sex in the woods. Corrin’s Connie, like all the previous Lady Chatterleys, will be shaken when she has that “visionary experience”, as Lawrence calls it, of seeing Mellors “naked to the hips”, washing himself outside his little cottage. There is something about an undressed gamekeeper that brings out the aristocrat’s animal instincts.

We’ve seen it on screen before. There is Joely Richardson ogling Sean Bean in Ken Russell’s 1993 TV serial; Holliday Grainger spying on Richard Madden in the 2015 BBC drama; legendary French movie star Danielle Darrieux in the 1955 French version passionately making out with the Italian actor Erno Crisa; Emmanuelle star Sylvia Kristel in the steamy 1981 British screen adaptation frolicking with a moustached Nicholas Clay; and Marina Hands lovingly caressing Jean-Louis Coulloc’h as the gamekeeper, in Pascale Ferran’s French film, which won the Cesar Award for Best Film in 2007.

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