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.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Costume drama heaven with Tom and Lady Caroline

What bliss over this bad weather to watch that 1963 hit TOM JONES again, and also to see a rare screening of the 1972 LADY CAROLINE LAMB on television. I have dvds of both, but nice to see them getting an airing. 

TOM JONES of course is utter bliss, a perfect costume version of the huge Fielding novel, but also capturing that early 1960s spirit too, as Tony Richardson's inventive direction deconstructs and re-creates the novel, using all those split cuts, razor sharp editing, characters talking to the camera and so on. Albert Finney is perfect here, and has great scenes with Susannah York delightful as Sophie Western, Diane Cilento, Joyce Redman (that food scene at the inn!) , and Joan Greenwood as the very demanding Lady Bellaston: "Sir, I know not of country matters, but in town it is considered impolite to keep a lady waiting". Indeed! Tom and Lady Bellaston meet at the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens (below), where as Micheal McLiammoir's fruity narration puts it people go "to do and to be undone".
Then there is the divine casting of Dame Edith Evans and Hugh Griffith at that country estate, where Dame Edith is appalled at the rude country manners, and has short patience with the highwayman holding up her coach with his "Stand and deliver", to which she retorts: "What, sir, I am no travelling midwife"!, Rosalind Knight as Mrs Fitzpatrick, another randy lady, and Peter Bull and young David Warner as Tom's rivals. Young Lynn Redgrave pops up too. Its a constant delight and deserved all the Oscars and applause, and it of course set up Richardson and Woodfall Films to make their less successful films, like those two with Jeanne Moreau: THE SAILOR FROM GIBRALTAR and MADEMOISELLE

I have written about LADY CAROLINE LAMB here before - see Sarah Miles label. But I wrote this yesterday on a friend's review of it on Facebook:
Glad you liked it - I looked at it again last night - its marvellously done and maybe the last of the great British costume dramas (well, there's Lester's ROYAL FLASH in 1975). I have always liked Miss Miles (she seems retired now - her last credit, guesting in a Miss Marple was over a decade ago, but I saw her last year with her THE SERVANT co-stars at a special screening for the blu-ray launch of the Losey classic, and she looked fine then, of course as Bolt's widow - they married twice - she probably doesnt need to work now). But I digress (and namedrop), as usual - she also did 2 other iconic 60s movies : Antonioni's BLOW-UP and I WAS HAPPY HERE. Bolt indeed assembles a great cast - 
Leighton has another superb role (after Losey's THE GO-BETWEEN the previous year), Olivier (back with Miles after TERM OF TRIAL), Richardson, Mills etc all shone, and Jon Finch was the man of the moment (starring for Polanski and Hitchcock too then)., handsome sets and score by Richard Rodney Bennett - and Chamberlain an effective Byron. Leighton gets the last word and its perfect! The scene with Caroline as the blackamoor servant to Byron is fun, as Lady Caroline goes over the top and becomes "notorious"; she was surely an early drama queen as her histrionics and capacity for making scenes becomes rather tedious. 

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