“You want more, more, MORE!”
A Hazard of Hearts is a British made-for-television costume drama set in Regency times starring a very young Helena Bonham Carter as the heroine, Serena Staverley. When the film begins, Selena’s compulsive gambler father Lord Staverley (Christopher Plummer) loses his fortune, his house and his daughter in a London gaming house. He bets everything on the roll of dice to wicked Lord Wrotham (James Fox), a dastardly villain who’s had his beady, lascivious eye on Serena for some time. Wrotham, however, then gambles with the mysterious Lord Vulcan–who on the surface doesn’t seem much better than Wrotham, but he’s the film’s hero.
The film is basically a gothic romance with duels, smugglers, secret passageways and many other thrills and chills of the genre to spice the plot. The film is based on the Barbara Cartland novel. If you are familiar with Cartland’s novels, then you will know what to expect in this film version. Cartland was an extremely prolific romance novelist, writing and publishing almost 700 novels during her lifetime (and many more published posthumously). Cartland’s novels were often criticized, but she had a winning formula for success and a legion of loyal fans.
So here we have the film version–a spunky heroine, an emotionally distant hero, and a gothic deep dark mystery. A Hazard of Hearts showcases a very young Helena Bonham Carter in a somewhat mousey role. She faints several times in the film when the action gets too much, and it’s seasoned actress Diana Rigg as the wicked Lady Vulcan who steals the film here with the very best role and some of the best lines. This is fairly cheesy, silly stuff, but for the hardcore romantics, Cartland as always, delivers for her fans. From director John Hough.