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.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Dame Maggie

An interesting interview with Maggie Smith in a weekend newspaper, where she bemoans how she could not go out on her own when in Paris recently, as she is getting too well known and kept being pestered. Well, yes, she has a point. The last episode of the current series of DOWNTON ABBEY airs tonight (but there is a Christmas special coming up and a new series next year); she has a new film about to open: MY OLD LADY, filmed in Paris - and she is currently filming Alan Bennett's THE LADY IN THE VAN which she did on the stage a decade or more ago.

It is interesting to see these bright talents of the '60s turning 80 now and still active: not only Smith but also Alan Bennett, Judi Dench, Eileen Atkins, Sylvia Syms and Loren and Bardot, as noted already here). Dame Maggie seems busier than ever - all those DOWNTON ABBEY series and the HARRY POTTER films, there is also a second EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL - I won't be going to that, I positively hated the first one.

Read the interview here:
Our BFI (British Film Institute) is also running a two-month retrospective on Dame Maggie, in December and January, with about 26 titles, including some rarities: BBC productions of THE MERCHANT OF VENICE, THE MILLIONAIRESS (not seen those), MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, and a 1967 documentary she appeared in (with Kenneth Williams) titled ACTING IN THE SIXTIES, plus that Alan Bennett TALKING HEADS episode BED AMONG THE LENTILS, as well as her early films THE PUMPKIN EATER, THE VIPS, YOUNG CASSIDY, HOT MILLIONS, THE HONEYPOT, OTHELLO and of course THE PRIME OF MISS JEAN BRODIE, and an early (1959) tv play: FOR SERVICES RENDERED

No doubt part two will go on to her more popular later hits like the 1981 QUARTET, A ROOM WITH A VIEW, DEATH ON THE NILE, MURDER BY DEATH, CALIFORNIA SUITE, EVIL UNDER THE SUN, that BBC SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER, MEMENTO MORITHE LONELY PASSION OF JUDITH HEARNE (where she is merely stupendous - as I mentioned in my review a while back - see Maggie Smith label). 
It will be great to see her sparring with Rex Harrison, scene-stealing from Richard Burton, nursing Susan Hayward, pushing Bette Davis around, bitching with Diana Rigg, romancing Rod Taylor - twice, and lots more!  

Yet more Maggie: the BBC series "Talking Pictures" also ran a programme on her, showing various interviews of hers over the years, which I had not seen before - this is a useful series as I mentioned before, covering the likes of Bogarde, Davis, Mason, Loren, Bacall, Bergman, etc. (TV label). [I was at the Davis and Mason recordings and am captured in the audience].

We saw her on stage several times in the Seventies: I was so stunned by her HEDDA GABLER (right) for Ingmar Bergman that I went to it twice in 1970, when she was playing it in tandem with the restoration comedy THE BEAU'S STRATAGEM, which I also saw twice, when she was playing with husband Robert Stephens, Jeremy Brett and others, and we also saw her PRIVATE LIVES, LETTICE & LOVAGE, NIGHT AND DAY and others. 

The one I would have love to have seen - but it was before my time here - is the 1964 HAY FEVER at the National with Edith Evans (left) and directed by Coward himself, where Smith and Sarah Miles and Derek Jacobi were the juveniles. She must have been a scream as the flapper, as in the photos ...

1 comment:

  1. Hi Mike - just wanted to say that I too saw Maggie Smith in Ingmar Bergman's production of "Hedda Gabler" at the National in 1970. I was very young, and I could not get out of my seat after the play ended - it was overwhelming! I have read that Maggie Smith and the rest of the cast knew that it would probably be the best production any of them would ever be in. What do you remember about it? Would love to hear. Thanks!