The American (R) TV PG
Airing July 15, 2001, on PBS
(Check local listings.)
Aired previously January 2001
The era when upstart America challenged the ancient privileges of Europe is portrayed in The American, an adaptation of Henry James's darkly romantic novel and the second title in Masterpiece Theatre's American Collection, devoted to presenting outstanding American drama.
Set in 1868, the story follows the fortunes of Christopher Newman (Matthew Modine), a 19th-century "new man" who has amassed a fortune in California and heads to Europe to learn its ways and find a wife. After arriving in Paris, naïvely receptive to all its charms and mysteries, he becomes enchanted with Claire de Cintré (Aisling O'Sullivan), a young Parisian widow whose beauty and enigmatic background ignite obsessive desire in the handsome American. But his overtures are discouraged in no uncertain terms by Claire's imperious mother, Madame de Bellegarde (Emmy award winner Diana Rigg), a descendant of ancient nobility who stops at nothing to arrange coldhearted aristocratic matches for her children.
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