Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

A freezing afternoon double bill .....

Ideal viewing for our continuing big freeze here - it will be a wintery Easter too.

THOSE MAGNIFICENT MEN IN THEIR FLYING MACHINES - another one I had not seen since its release in 1965, though its always on tv here especially around holiday time. I thought nothing of it at the time, being a teenager - but its a delight now, Ken Annakin's comedy of the London to Paris plane race in the early 1900s. All the funny little planes and all that stunt work looks great now, as is that cast - another of those star-filled films of the time (like THE VIPS, THE LOVED ONE, OPERATION CROSSBOW, AMOROUS ADVENTURES OF MOLL FLANDERS etc).

James Fox and Sarah Miles are re-united from THE SERVANT, see below, she plays her usual saucy minx in period clothes, he is the upright English chap, Stuart Whitman the brash American, Alberto Sordi the Italian, Jean-Pierre Cassel the amorous Frenchman, Gert Frobe the German, Robert Morley the newspaper owner, Terry-Thomas is the rotter, with lots of cameos from the likes of Flora Robson as a resourceful nun, Fred Emney, Cecily Courtneidge, etc.

This was followed by the Merchant-Ivory A ROOM WITH A VIEW from 1985 - how we liked this at the time (one of my date movies in Brighton), one of their best films and the first of their E M Forster triple, followed by MAURICE (time for a re-view of that soon) in 1987 and then HOWARDS END - the definition of the much derided heritage cinema,
but they are all marvellous costume dramas, like their THE EUROPEANS (Lee Remick), THE BOSTONIANS (Vanessa Redgrave), HEAT AND DUST (Julie Christie, Greta Scacchi), QUARTET (as reviewed here, Maggie Smith label), as well as their earlier oddities like SHAKESPEARE WALLAH or SAVAGES. What a fascinating team they (director James Ivory & producer Ishmael Merchant, with scriptwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala ) were and the many stories of how they made those films and attracted all those casts, on meagre budgets ....

When Lucy Honeychurch and chaperone Charlotte Bartlett find themselves in Florence with rooms without views, fellow guests Mr Emerson and son George step in to remedy the situation. Meeting the Emersons could change Lucy's life forever but, once back in England, how will her experiences in Tuscany affect her marriage plans?

Maggie Smith and Judi Dench are perfection of course as the spinster aunt and the novelist Miss Lavish, Florence looks marvellous, the period detail looks perfect, there's wonderful Fabia Drake, Daniel Day Lewis as the prissy Cecil Vyse, Rosemary Leach, Denholm Elliot and that amusing scene where the Reverend Beebe (portly Simon Callow - I almost said Cowell !) joins George and Freddy (Julian Sands and Rupert Graves) for a naked swim as the ladies walk by .....  England and Italy both look great and the soundtrack and music and captions are ideal, as of course is Helena Bonham-Carter as Lucy Honeychurch. It all ends very satisfyingly with our couple back at their room with a view and the spinster aunt happy for them in her single bed. It all though makes one want to run off to Florence right now ...
There was another ROOM WITH A VIEW, a tv version in 2007 right, scripted by costume veteran Andrew Davies (also responsible for the great BBC 1995 PRIDE & PREJUDICE and the filleted new version of BRIDESHEAD REVISITED, see Costume Drama label). There is no ambiguity about the Reverend Beebe (Mark Williams) in this one ("not the marrying kind" according to Forster), he chats up Italian youths and has a leer in his eye as joins the boys stripping off .... Cecil in this one is James Fox's son Laurence .... like the recent tv version of SENSE & SENSIBILITY it amuses but is not as good as the film. It did though tack on a meaningless coda showing Lucy back in Florence in the '20s, George having perished in WW1!

THE SERVANT (see below) bandwagon rolls on - Wendy Craig is now on morning television tomorrow discussing the movie and its revival ..... will Miles and Fox also be seen more drumming up publicity ... ?

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