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Program Title
Painted Lady

Episode Title
Part 2

Episode number:
1 2

The shadowy world of the illegal art trade forms the background for this powerful new drama set in Ireland, London & New York. Maggie Sheridan, a down and out blues singer, is taken in by Sir Charles Stafford and his son Sebastian after a failed suicide attempt. She has lived quietly in the lodge of Sir Charles crumbling Irish estate but her fragile, hard-won peace is about to be shattered. Sir Charles is brutally murdered and a valuable sixteenth-century painting is stolen. The painting is one of several lurid and disturbing pictures sent to Sir Charles marking the major events of his life. As soon as the paintings arrived he hid them away and only the old man knew the significance of the gifts, a secret too terrible to share. Sebastian and Maggie find themselves suspects in the case but they believe a violent creditor is behind the crime and that Sebastians life is now in danger. Maggie is convinced that the stolen painting holds the key to Sir Charles death. Alone she enters the murky underworld of illegal art trade, but she is being followed. Who will reach her first--the police, or the ghost from Sir Charles Staffords past...

Original broadcast date

Cast Characters
Helen Mirren Maggie Sheridan
Franco Nero Robert Tassi
Iain Glen Sebastian Stafford
Lesley Manville Susie Peel
Michael Maloney Oliver Peel
Barry Barnes D.S. Fagan
Iain Cuthbertson Charles Stafford
Michael Liebman Bryan Gavin
John Kavanagh Michael Longley
Roland Gift Eddie Mullen
Peter Gunn Geoff Bentham
Robert Portal Alex
Angus Wright Young Charles Stafford
Rupert Vansittart Henry Fellows
Tony Rohr Landlord
Sam Douglas Nilsson

PAINTED LADY/Episode 2/Intro by Russell Baker

Sir Charles Stafford has been murdered and a valuable painting stolen from his home.

It quickly becomes obvious that Sir Charles was less than the soul of honesty.

His dissolute son Sebastian has an expensive drug habit, and it's put him 60,000 pounds in debt to a dangerous gangster named Michael Longley.

Sir Charles's murder reveals he'd planned an insurance swindle to pay off Sebastian's debt. One month before the burglary, he'd had his art collection brought out of storage, hung throughout the house and insured -- for precisely 60,000 pounds.

As we'll see tonight, there's always been a dark side to Sir Charles's life. The center of the story is Maggie Sheridan, an over-the-hill rock singer. She and Sebastian have been friends since schooldays. She feels an intense obligation to both him and his father, so she sets out to find Sir Charles's murderer and, most importantly, to pay Sebastian's drug debt.

To do it, she has to find the stolen painting. And the way to do that, she decides, is to cut a flashy figure in the international art market, attracting the attention of someone willing to sell a stolen masterpiece.

For this purpose, she is posing as a Polish countess who turns up at the art auctions ready to bid against the biggest collectors.

Last time we saw her bidding against Robert Tassi, a big-time New York art dealer. When we resume tonight, Maggie is back in London. We find her in an exceedingly sinister cellar. There she's arranged to meet a man who claims to have the painting.

Sebastian is also in a sinister London setting. He is dangling in ropes from a ceiling -- in a situation suggestive of the many Renaissance paintings of the martyrdom of St. Sebastian.

Painted Lady, concluding episode.

PAINTED LADY/Episode 2/Extro by Russell Baker

If your knowledge of art history is as sketchy as mine, you may be surprised to learn that Artemisia Gentileschi is not a fictional painter invented especially for "Painted Lady."

Miss Gentileschi lived in Tuscany from about 1600 to 1650, and produced several wonderful paintings. Yes, she did paint "Judith and Holofernes." The real painting is perfectly safe among the treasures of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, has never been resident in Ireland, and has never been stolen.

The name of the man who tutored Artemesia was indeed Tassi --Agostino Tassi. You may have noticed several other references to great works of art in "Painted Lady." The film's most striking visual joke comes in the first episode with the scene of Maggie Sheridan in the bathtub at her sister's house.

For a startling moment, she looks exactly like the subject of David's great painting of the French revolutionary, Marat, who has just been murdered in his bathtub by Charlotte Corday.

The scenes of Sebastian being bound, then shot by an arrow obviously refer to the many paintings of that favorite Renaissance subject, the martyrdom of St. Sebastian.

These often dwell with sadistic delight on the mechanics of shooting the unclothed and helpless saint full of arrows.

And then there's the lecture Maggie gives about Gainsborough's portrait of the newlyweds. It repeats almost verbatim Sister Wendy's remarks on the same painting in one of her art lectures seen on PBS.

For Mobil Masterpiece Theatre, I'm Russell Baker. Goodnight.

Episode number: 1 2

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