White Mischief is a 1987 film dramatising the events of the Happy Valley murder case in Kenya in 1941, when Sir Henry "Jock" Delves Broughton was tried for the murder of Josslyn Hay, Earl of Erroll.
Based on a book by the Sunday Times journalist James Fox (originally researched with Cyril Connolly for an article in December 1969), it was directed by Michael Radford.
With much of the rest of the world at war, a number of bored British aristocrats live dissolute and hedonistic lives in a region of Kenya known as Happy Valley, drinking and indulging in decadent sexual affairs to pass the time.
On a January day in 1941, Josslyn Hay, the philandering Earl of Erroll, is found dead in his automobile in a remote location. The Earl has a royal pedigree but a somewhat sordid past and a well-deserved reputation for carrying on with other men's wives.
Lady Diana Broughton is one such woman. She is the beautiful wife of Sir John Henry Delves Broughton, known to most as "Jock," a man at least twice her age. Diana has a pre-nuptial understanding with her husband that should either of them fall in love with someone else, the other will do nothing to impede the romance.
Diana has indeed succumbed to the charms of the roguish Earl of Erroll, whose local conquests also include the drug-addicted American heiress Alice de Janze and the somewhat more reserved Nina Soames. It appears that Diana expects to divorce Broughton and marry the Earl, and, true to his word, Broughton publicly toasts their affair in front of them at a club in Nairobi.
The resentment he feels privately is known only to Broughton and possibly to old friend Jack Soames. In any case, the Earl's murdered corpse is found not far from Broughton's estate, and before long Broughton is charged with the crime.
Diana is distraught over losing her lover, as is Alice, who openly masturbates near his coffin. A local plantation owner, Colville, quietly offers Diana advice and solace, ultimately surprising her by proposing marriage.
Broughton stands trial. There are no witnesses to the crime and the physical evidence is incriminating but circumstantial. He obviously had the motive and means, but is found innocent and the scandal comes to an end.
The film ends with de Janze dying of drug overdose then Broughton shooting himself while mutual friends party round her grave. In fact, de Janze shot herself, on 30 September 1941, while Broughton eventually returned to England and committed suicide by a drug overdose in Liverpool in December 1942, over a year later.
"Oh God … not another fucking beautiful day !"
Greta Scacchi as Lady Diana Broughton
Joss Ackland as Sir Henry "Jock" Delves Broughton, Baronet Broughton
Charles Dance as Josslyn Hay, Earl of Erroll
Sarah Miles as Alice de Janzé
Geraldine Chaplin as Nina Soames
Ray McAnally as Morris
Murray Head as Lizzie
John Hurt as Gilbert Colvile
Trevor Howard as Jack Soames
Susan Fleetwood as Lady Gwladys Delamere
Catherine Neilson as Lady June Carberry
Hugh Grant as Hugh Dickinson
Alan Dobie as Sir Walter Harragin
Jacqueline Pearce as Idina Sackville