Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)

Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)
Oh, to be in England...

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Pride and Prejudice 1940

It is truly shameful that a blog called The Jane Austen Film Club has not yet had a post on one of the very first Jane Austen adaptations, Pride and Prejudice 1940. Thankfully, Turner Classic Movies had this on last night and I enjoyed it for the umpteenth time. Sir Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson in a Hollywood classic. So here is my post.

Yes, the dresses are wrong. The designers wanted the more photogenic full skirts and mutton leg sleeves of the early Victorian period and so they just changed it. Don't think about it too much, just enjoy the flouncing around.

Also, don't sweat the fact that the story has been truncated and some characters left out entirely as it is only 118 minutes long. There are still 5 sisters, after all. And yes, they rather changed the personality of Lady Catherine at the end but again, just go with it. It was 1940 after all and filmed in Hollywood to boot, during WWII. When you think of it that way, it is a wonderful example of mid 20th Century film.

The odd bit of changed dialogue is actually wonderfully squeal worthy.

Lady Catherine: There's a very fair instrument in the housekeeper's room. You'll disturb no one there.

Elizabeth Bennet: You are really too gracious, Lady Catherine, but I shouldn't care to disturb the housekeeper.

Mrs. Bennet: Mary, Try to sparkle a little.
[Mary grins awkwardly]
Mrs. Bennet: Just a little!

Mrs. Bennet: Three of them married, and the other two just tottering on the brink!

There is much original dialogue in the film however, much more than was in Emma Thompson's Sense and Sensibility, so you may be surprised. And looking at the photo above, this may be heresy to say, but I think I would rather see a colorized version of the film when I see Greer Garson's gorgeous red hair and green dress. Apparently I am not a purist in any sense of the word.

The acting is superb. How can you complain about Olivier and Garson? And the sets are opulent. They just didn't do filming on location back then in Hollywood, so you can't expect it can you?

Just take it as it is, and you will have a lovely romp through one of the first Austen adaptations ever. I may need to see this again now.

P.S. This is a great one to see right after My Week With Marilyn. Kenneth Brannagh deserved his Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Laurence Olivier. Spot on Ken!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Lincoln 2012

I was able to see Lincoln this past weekend and it is definitely worth seeing. Don't be put off by the length of the film (2.5 hours) but by all means, swing by the outhouse on the way in. And don't go for the big gulp drink with your popcorn.

Steven Spielberg was eager to make this film, and he very early obtained the film rights to Doris Kearns Goodwin's book, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, although he only used the last few months of Lincoln's life as her wonderful book is a bit of a doorstop.  (Mental note to buy this book for The Squire for Christmas as he enjoyed the film as much as I did. Good thing he doesn't read my blog!)

Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln

First of all, just give the Oscar to Daniel Day-Lewis right now. He is the reason this film works so well and you will feel privileged to spend some time with him as Abraham Lincoln. He grips you right from the first time you see him, from behind, and doesn't let you go until you leave the theatre.

Abraham Lincoln: I could write shorter sermons but when I get started I'm too lazy to stop. 

Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln

I have never been a big fan of Sally Field (I remember not caring if she lost the farm in Places in the Heart) but she really does a great job here playing Mary Todd Lincoln. She put on 25 lbs, a la Bridgette Jones, in order to more closely resemble the former first lady. And although I doubt she will win an Academy Award for this performance, she did make me care about a woman who didn't want to lose her son in the war, after losing 2 sons to illness already. And she did seem to have fun taking on Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens!

Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens

The wig on Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens should really get an award unto itself. But seriously, TLJ is one of the best things about this film. I won't let loose any spoilers, but his scene near the end is one of my faves. He is a real scene stealer in this film.

James Spader as W.N. Bilbo

Speaking of scene stealers, James Spader is an absolute hoot as W.N. Bilbo, the slightly slimy lobbyist whom Lincoln had released from jail to assist him in passing the 13th amendment. He has come a long way from Steff in Pretty in Pink!

Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Robert Lincoln

Brilliant idea of Spielberg's to cast Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Lincoln's eldest son Robert. This gives the viewpoint of the young man, champing at the bit to do his part in the Civil War but having to deal with his mother who wants him nowhere near the danger of the fighting. Tell your kids they have to see it because Joseph Gordon-Levitt is in it. They will love the whole film but it will get them in the door.

This film is one that doesn't wow with special effects (there is only one battle scene and only enough gore to bring home the horrors of war without overdoing). It does however stay with you long after you leave the theatre. It is so relevant to today in it's view on politics and war and humanity. Bravo to all involved!

P.S. As a Canadian watching this film, I was a little confused as the Republicans were mostly liberal and the Democrats were mostly conservative, but I guess things have changed in 150 odd years. Actually, in Canada, our first Prime Minister was from the Liberal-Conservative party, so apparently we were covering all the bases in those days!

Tiffany & Co. Seed Pearl Necklace set worn by Mary Todd Lincoln
I just had to add that I love that they had Sally Field wear a replica of Mary Todd Lincoln's Tiffany & Co. seed pearl necklace and matching bracelets. Watch out for them!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Georgette Heyer Film- Vote for which one should be first!

We now have 200 signatures on our petition for a Georgette Heyer film. Yay!!!!!! (and thanks to all who have signed it!!!!)

Signature #199, (Dr. Sally Houghton, the Genius behind THE Georgette Heyer website) suggested that we vote for which books we would like to have made into films first. Great idea Sally! There are a few wonderful threads on Goodreads debating this very topic so I have made a list of almost all of the suggestions so that we can have a vote. And if you haven't read any Georgette Heyer yet, you may get some idea of which one to try first when this poll gets going!

Which Georgette Heyer novel should be made into a film first? free polls 
So if you would like to discuss this further, or have ideas for casting (and I know you do!) please leave a comment below and keep the conversation going.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Imelda Staunton- Actor of the Week

Imelda Staunton

Imelda Mary Philomena Bernadette Staunton. The most Irish of names for one of the best English actresses of all time. Her parents were immigrants from County Mayo, Ireland but she was raised in London, attending RADA (the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts) with Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall and Juliet Stevenson. She started her career performing in the theatre, but of course we know her best from all of her wonderful film roles. And so many of her film and television roles have been costume dramas.

Mr. and Mrs. Palmer in Sense and Sensibility

I first learned to love Imelda as the chattery twit Charlotte Palmer in Sense and Sensibility 1995. Apparently she had had a long connection with Emma Thompson (Thompson, Peter's Friends, Much Ado About Nothing) and when Emma was writing the screenplay, she had Imelda and Hugh Laurie in mind for Mr. and Mrs. Palmer right from the beginning.

Nurse in Shakespeare in Love

Her wonderfully nuanced comedic performance as Nurse in Shakespeare in Love is a joy to watch. Her facial expressions are even more amazing with that incredible Elizabethan headgear.

Vera Drake
Nominated for an Academy Award in 2005 for her role as Vera Drake, Imelda really showed her acting chops. Although she lost to Hilary Swank, Hollywood sat up and took notice.

Mrs. Blatherwick in Nanny McPhee

Reunited with Emma Thompson for Nanny McPhee, Imelda got to have fun with a comedic performance again. In fact, she really gets to let loose as Mrs. Blatherwick! Look out!

Dolores Umbrage in Harry Potter

As the saccharine Dolores Umbrage in Harry Potter, Imelda gets to be truly evil and over the top. And I must say, those costumes are out of this world!

Miss Pole in Cranford

Do you love her as much as I do as Miss Pole in Cranford? Oh, the cat and the lace! Oh, the cage and the parrot! Oh, I have to watch Cranford again. Especially as Imelda's husband Jim Carter is Captain Brown and her daughter Bessie Carter has a small role as Margaret Gidman.

Bessie Carter as Margaret Gidman in Cranford

Imelda's daughter Bessie Carter played Margaret Gidman in Cranford, the maid who learned how to read (horrors!). Lady Ludlow was not amused!

Queen Victoria in The Pirates! Band of Misfits
As the voice of Queen Victoria in The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists! (which I haven't seen alas as I have no child to accompany me) she looks quite ferocious. Anyone seen this film? Is it as fun as it looks?

Imelda with Bessie and Jim

I had to pop in this photo as it is just so comical. 5 foot nothing with her family towering over her. She is a very big talent however, in a very little package.

Do you have any fave Imelda Staunton roles that I missed? There are lots to choose from!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Jim Carter- Actor of the Week

Jim Carter is another one of those actors you see everywhere, but you may not instantly recognize him. Since his success as Mr. Carson on Downton Abbey, you may get better at spotting him or his lovely basso voice.

Mr. Carson, the butler of Downton Abbey is one of my favourite characters. His affection for the headstrong Lady Mary and his great set downs of the uppity Thomas (the nine fingered footman) make him always fun to watch. Jim Carter seems to have had great fun playing Mr. Carson as is evidenced by this video spoof of A Very Carson Christmas.

Jim Carter as Ralph Bashford in Shakespeare in Love

The first time Jim Carter really registered in my consciousness as a notable character was in Shakespeare in Love, where he played Ralph Bashford, a middle aged actor playing the female character of Juliet's Nurse in Romeo and Juliet, the play within the film. Actually, I find it funny that Jim Carter's wife actress Imelda Staunton played Viola De Lesseps' Nurse. Someone had fun with the casting there!

Imelda Staunton in Shakespeare in Love

Here is the photo of Jim Carter's wife Imelda Staunton as the Nurse in Shakespeare in Love to jog your memory. She is so great in this, as is her husband as the character of "Nurse".

Jim Carter as Mr. Brehgert in The Way We Live Now

I love Jim's character of Mr. Brehgert in The Way We Live Now. He is so sweet as the older Jewish character Mr. Brehgert who falls in love with Georgiana Longestaffe (played by the wonderful Anne-Marie Duff) who only sees him as an escape from spinsterhood and ends up breaking his heart. What a twit she was!

Jim Carter in Ella Enchanted

Almost unrecognizable as the ogre Nish in Ella Enchanted, this is proof that he gets a lot of varied roles!

Jim Carter as Captain Brown in Cranford

Now this is more like how we are used to seeing Jim Carter. In Victorian dress as Captain Brown in Cranford, he is both a capable railway planner and a likeable father. Perfect for the role!

Jim Carter with wife Imelda Staunton and daughter Bessie

Jim Carter and Imelda Staunton have a daughter together, Bessie Carter who joined the family business, having had a small part in Cranford as Margaret Gidford. I am now going to have to watch Cranford again just to spot her. Actually, what a great reason to watch Cranford again.

I had to leave an awful lot of his career out of this post, so feel free to comment below with your fave Jim Carter films or television roles. I couldn't find a photo of him as Charles Fox in The Madness of King George, but that is another film I should watch again. And he has a great bit part as a bartender in My Week With Marilyn.



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