The cork-soled boots, now heavy with subtext
As I wrote a couple of years ago now (really): while often I wish Raven had not chosen to de-emphasize the individual sub- or primary story of a Palliser novel, and emphasized the Palliser one (the only book where he cannot manage this is The Eustace Diamonds), in this part and the one previous I am glad the Palliser story is made pre-eminent. For The Prime Minister parts of the Palliser films, the Lopez/Emily/Wharton story, now shorn of many of its characters is made subordinate, with material brought in from The Duke’s Children. These include coping with the ejection of Silverbridge (Anthony Andrews) from Oxford, as a young man, his arrival at the castle with Tregear (Jeremy Irons), his close relationship with his mother, his difference in character from his father, and the beginning of the romance of Tregear and Lady Mary (Kate Nicholls).
I’m glad because the Palliser story now about two mature aging adults in an often tense conflicts with one another as they go through life is a living story for me: their conflicts are ours and their accommodations too (although couched in the Victorian idiom of the novel).
I have three more of my favorite scenes from this part to share. We’ve already had the Duke’s two walks with Lady Rosina (Sheila Keith). Two are not invented, but rather elaborated from Trollope somewhat differently than the original text: those where the Duke (Philip Latham) first tells the Duchess (Susan Hampshire) that he will respect the recent law and newly elaborated custom of relatively free elections in an area, and asks her to do likewise; and then, having discovered she has been trying to influence the election, when he erupts in a bitter rage (partly the result of all he has endured from her politicking and his experience of office) to demand that she stop.
One is wholly invented: the scene where she visits Mr Sprout (Brian Tully) in order to influence him; now instead of this we have the narrator telling us she had a quiet word with Mr Spurgeon (we are told this more than once). The scene is done in the spirit of the book to the extent even a long-time reader of Trollope like myself looks in the book to see if there is a scene to correspond. There is not.
First to situate, a summary of 10:21 itself:
10:21: Duke and Duchess in conflict; development of Lopez story; Silverbridge and Tregear material (he kicked out of Oxford, Tregear and Mary attracted, he thrown out
Episode 16: Entertaining: scene 1) Gatherum castle, grand salon, soprano singing, fireworks outside; reworking of PM, I, Ch 11, p. 92, 97-100: Duchess makes up to Sir Orlando Drought, tempts Lopez who plays back; Erle, Dolly, Mrs Finn chorus at fireworks, justifying her, asking if she’s going too far, from PM, I, Ch 11, pp. 97-100, Planty don’t appreciate it; move to Duke in shadows, with Bungay, first clever voice-over (singing going on again), again on same debate, bringing up Slide and People’s Banner, PM, I, Ch 18, pp. 48-54 (Bungay talks to Duke, Duke shows People’s Banner letter); final phase, Duchess and Mrs Finn, includes Silverbridge expelled, all the while fireworks interspersed; scene 2) upstairs sitting blue room; Duchess and Duke at coffee, he intensely distressed over Silverbridge, the “disgrace” the “shame of it all,” she you must not let it appear so; Silverbridge enters, Duke barely civil, leaves, Duchess and Silverbridge on how he should travel, and ask Tregear to “bera him company.” Invented but consistent; scene 3) garden out-of-doors around Gatherum, transcribed scene (see previous blog), from PM, I, Ch 21, pp. 180-81, Ch27, pp. 233-35; becomes Dolly, Erle, a bit from Lopez cynical and ironical on Boffins and Duke’s first walk with Lady Rosina
Episode 17: Future Politic: scene 5) Aviary greenhouse at Gatherum, birds in large cage, Sir Orlando Drought waiting, encounter with Erle, invented scene, Drought restless and wants to be listened to by Duke, Duchess not enough; scene 6) outside vast garden, Monk and Bungay, what role is duke to play, caretaker, the trade problems, modern substitute for Trollope’s narrator; scene 7) Aviary greenhouse again, now Duchess and Lopez around bird cages, from PM, II, Ch 21, pp. 182-84, hard looks on Duchess’s be pearled faced, insinuations, he is getting money he hopes from marriage, she gives him to understand if it were understood the duke on his side, he kisses her hand; scenes 8 and 9) evening party at Gatherum, Duchess and Lopez in card room, moves to Orlando accosting Duke, PM, I, Ch 20, pp. 168-69, 173-75. A parallel to when Phineas went to Loughlinter, same feel only this time bitter; Duke rudely cuts off Orlando’s scheme for armaments; scene 10) Outside castle, vast grounds, second scene of Lady Rosina and Duke walking, this time using the one cork sole dialogue, from PM, II, Ch 27, p 235 (see previous blog). long tracking shot weaving walk, ending by water (honesty striking contrast to aviary scenes, salons)
Episode 18: Lopez Enigma: scene 11) Sexty Parker’s office, from PM, II, Chs, 43, 46, p. 372, 377-78 (narration), 395-96 (from letter) the deals they do in trading guano, tight-lipped Lopez over coming marital money, he’ll make it worth Sexty’s while, the 50,000 for brother; scene 12) Wharton London front room, Emily and father, Mr Wharton reports his enquiries turn up so little he doubts the man was born, nothing substantial; he’s not impressed by her assertion of Lopez’s connection to “high sphere” of Duchess of Omnium; foreigner so there’s an end of this; she upset and not accepting, she leaves; in comes Everett, with desire to get into house, and spendthrift ways, from PM, I, Ch 22,p. 186, not gainful, dubious use (parallel of Silverbridge and Duke) but Wharton a bigot (“I’ll choke his greasy tongue — invented but in character); scene 13) Club which now seems like Beargarten, from PM, I, Ch 22, pp. 187-90, some direct from novel, II, pp. 191-97: about parliament, father not taking to Lopez, Lopez’s hopes, Everett drunk and irritated at Lopez’s cynicism, refusal to mouth any platitudes so dares him to walk in park, Lopez in corridor glittering man in cape following Everett; scene 14) the park at night, black sky, thick green-black bushes, unpleasant nasty condescending talk from Everett (“you’re doing it from grease”) and Lopez deserts; scenes 15-16) still park, another place, Lopez walking, hears shouts, rushes over and rescues Everett from 3 set upon him, has a Dracula look; scene 17) Wharton front room, Emily feeding soup to Everett, Wharton brooding upon foolish walk, from PM, pp. 195-98, changed much and material taken from elsewhere but central point of how rescue made it impossible for Wharton to refuse is made, pp. 200-201, Ferdinand enters, the conquering hero, they kiss and father irritated
Episode 19: Open Seat: scene 18) Aviary green house, again Duke and Orlando Drought, invented or transposed from PM, II, Ch 17, pp. 236-38 where Duke explodes on Major Pountney, Orlando wanted the seat for his nephew, “the most impertinent evet addressed to me” (directly insulting); scene 19) Duchess’s office, at desk with room plan and Mrs Finn; it’s nearly killing her, Lady Rosina brought up; Tregear enjoying himself too much with Mary, and must go (“we need the room” — not very likely), Mrs Finn surprised; scene 20) Aviary greenhouse (bad things happen in this place): Silverbridge tells his friend he must go and now; we see Tregear hurt and insulted, Silverbridge not aware of how egregious this is, gently nudging that Tregear will still come to Italy, but Tregear takes it, “provided your mother makes no objections”; scene 21) upstairs blue sitting room for coffee, from PM, II, ch 27, pp. 238-40, Ch 32, p. 278: the first of two scenes in the blog below where Duchess alerted against Drought (it’s okay when she does it) tries to say a word for Lopez, and Duke cuts her off to insist on no electioneering and his determination not to interfere and her disagreement, nothing; scene 22) again Aviary greenhouse, again Lopez and Duchess (in same outfits I’m afraid) so he is directly disobeying her husband, birds heard cooing, now talk of wedding tour; she says election will be contested and may cost and she cannot be quite as active, but nonetheless … (courtesan smug smile), he asserts he’s marrying for love, smiles this time but hard
Episode 20: Money Woes: scene 23) Sexty Parker’s office, no specific scene but generally from narrator and sense of them all, but some from PM II, Ch 25, pp. 213-14: Sexty now distressed, desperate (“stop nagging”, father won’t like it, we must keep up front, must not sell, he needs to raise 2000 at once; nasty overbearing bullying shames Sexty, forces him to sign again for much larger amount; dark closed face of Lopez; scene 24) Wharton front room, the fatuous luxuries on offer from Lopez with Emily’s (naive) delight and father sitting behind offering nothing, and not impressed at all, details from narrator’s telling of how they lived after marriage; scene 25) wedding bells in front of us; scene 26) Mr Spout’s shop (below in blog). from Chapter 32 where Duchess has word with Mr Spurgeon over iron plates; here Lady Rosina’s boots make great play scene 27) upstairs blue sitting room for coffee, second scene in blog below, Prime Minister, II, Chapter 32, p 274-278: some time later as boots are now there on table; bitter scene of Duke having found out about her politicking, demanding she stop, her indignation (uncle Lear), her wanting “women’s rights,” his outcry against her separating herself. deeply vexed troubled ending.
The three transcribed scenes:
Episode 19: Open Seat.
The Duchess has encouraged Lopez (Stuart Wilson) to go for the seat. At the same time, she has told Silverbridge to tell Tregear to leave as (like Wharton) she does not want her daughter sluiced by a man of a lower rank.
Marie Finn (Barbara Murray) exhibits more decent feeling than the Duchess; surprised at this at first
Silverbridge has just complied (told his good friend to depart immediately!) in the previous scene.
It is another night in the castle.
Scene 21: Night drawing room for the Duke and Duchess to retire to, the blue sitting room we’ve seen repeatedly
Source: PM, Vol 2, Ch 27, pp. 238-40, Ch 32, p. 278; Duke refers to a scene which in the novel occurs between him and Major Pountney, PM, Vol 2, Ch 27, pp. 236-237. The scene with Sir Orlando concerns just his suggestion for an increase in armament (iron sheaths) supposedly in order to have something to do Vol 1, Ch 20, pp 173-75.
1. Establishment shot: Plantagenet in evening jacket, standing reading papers; Duchess leaning down pouring coffee.
Duchess: “I saw you playing chess with Mr Lopez this evening.”
Duchess: “How did you find him?”
Duke: (Unintelligible to me) ” ,,, quite intelligent to talk to. I can’t think why you invited him down here for a second time.”
Duchess: “Well, he’s a pleasant fellow and I am sure he’s a rising man.”
Duke: “Yes, well we’ll see about that.”
Duchess: “And see … there soon I hope [Parliament?] … uh … Planty ….”
Duchess: “Is Mr Grey still going off to his mission to Peoria?”
Duke: “Yes, Yeah.”
Duchess: “And he’ll give up his seat at Silverbridge?”
Duke: “Yes, almost certainly.”
Duchess: “Then let Mr Lopez have it.”
Duke (surprized): “Mr Lopez?”
Duchess: “Yes, he’s a clever man and new blood and could be of use to you.”
Duke: Noise which questions this assertion.
Duchess: “Well, you ministers keep shuffling the same old cards until they’re so dirty you could hardly see the pips on them.”
Duke: “Why, I am one of the dirty old pack me’self.”
Duchess: “No (a coddling affectionate tone). Nonsense. I didn’t include you with the dirty old pack.”
Duke: “Nope. It is not for me to return a member at Silverbridge.”
Duchess: “Not, no openly these days. I know that but uh the quiet suggestion in the right place?”
Duke: “My dear Glencora, I’ve already been approached on this you know by Sir Orlando Drought.”
Camera on her, dark shadows around her, stands still.
Duke: “with a similar request for his nephew.”
Duchess: (turns around, a little worried look on her face): “You turned him down, of course.” (we see she is only worried for her candidate and didn’t believe the Duke’s assertions about not influencing the election at all)
Duke: “Yes, I did (firm).”
Duchess: “Oh, but not too roughly I hope, the man is valuable to you.”
Duke: “My dear, the man’s a wretch. Now I honor the law I hope in the letter and in the spirit. Oh, I just made it plain to him that his request was indecent and presumptuous.”
Duchess laughs lightly. Looks down.
Duchess: “Well, perhaps it was, coming from him. Coming from your wife, Planty” (an appeal in her eyes and tone).
Duke: “No, my dear, that is for nobody. Not even for my wife will I interfere in this election at Silverbridge.”
Duchess: “If the candidate be worthy?”
Duke: “Pshaw. I know very little about the worth of Mr Lopez.”
Duchess: “I will guarantee it.”
Duke: “Ah ahk. (Noises). I will not interfere in this election. Now that is not on his behalf, or any man’s.”
Close up of her guarded face, an unpleasant look on it.
The Duchess with a hard, guarded face
Duke: “Nor will you.”
She ironically bows with cup in her hand.
Duchess: “As your grace commands.”
Duke: “Well then, now, my dear, I am serious about this. I am very serious indeed.”
Duchess: “Well (huffy sound) I suppose that I may speak a word or two.”
Duke: “In Silverbridge not one word. No where else for that matter.”
He goes back to his papers; she faces the door; she goes out the door.
Intervening scene of her still encouraging Lopez in the aviary/greenhouse.
The aviary/greenhouse, a pastoral place, becomes a place of corrupt assignations for place, petty power, money. The duchess a bird in a cage flapping against her bars?
Episode 20: Lopez’s money woes as he wrests money for his honeymoon and apartment from Sextus Parker. Then a scene of his fatuous showing off in front of Emily. We are supposed to see his false values and his failure to understand that he has not impressed his father-in-law favorably by this gross spending and insouciant gestures. Then the bells signaling the wedding and Emily now married and bedded too. And so we turn back to the Duchess.
Scene 26: Just outside and then inside Mr Sprout’s shoe shop.
Leitmotif: cork-soled boots, white ones on display as Duchess comes in
Establishment shot: Outdoor window which says “Superior Footwear” and “B. Sprout.” We hear her shoes walking, in front of her a footman holds open the door.
Camera switches and we are inside the shop. We see white boots on one level and above them black ones. Sprout comes out to meet her; he is expecting her and talks in awed tones.
Sprout: “Your grace!” (He handles watch; again we see how he has been waiting for her.)
Duchess (with basket in hand): “Mr Sprout. Uh. The duke has advised me to come to you for some of you cork-soled boots. It seems that his great aunt Lady Rosina de Courcy has found them very serviceable (intent look in her eyes).”
Sprout: “Eh! Her ladyship is a most valued client (Duchess looking at display) and has always sworn by my cork shoes.”
Duchess: “Yes, she declares she owes her very survival to them. Although heaven knows she’s survived long enough.”
Sprout looks uncertain how to reply to that, dubious, not clear what this is about. He walks over to stand.
Sprout: “If I may take some measurements, your grace.”
Duchess: “Oh, yes, please do. I shall be needing half a dozen pairs against the coming winter.”
Sprout looks astonished (and pleased).
Sprout: “Your grace!” (hurries over to get measuring stuff from behind the stand on the other side of room. He takes a white cardboard looking object with some ribbons hanging from it. He moves worn stool over to where she is seated and places it beneath her foot afer she takes off her boot.
Duchess (now flirting): “Woo! Mr Sprout!” (giggles, hands down near her lower leg). “I suppose you’re very busy, Mr Sprout, considering candidates for the bi-election. I know that you and Mr Spurgeon always see to everything important in Silverbridge.”
Sprout: (as he does his task, now has a measuring tape in hand) “It is a weighty affair, your grace. This is the first time in many years that Silverbridge has had to find a new member.”
Duchess: “Mmmm. The duke of course has no views in this matter.”
Duchess and Mr Sprout
Sprout. “So we have understood.”
Duchess: “And neither of course have I (light laugh) and yet Mr Sprout …”
Sprout look up briefly and then down, listening.
Sprout: “And yet, your grace … “
Duchess: “Although I have no views as to the election, I have been favorably impressed by a certain Mr Ferdinand Lopez who may just conceivably present himself here in some weeks time. When he returns from his wedding tour.”
Sprout: “Mr Lopez (tying her shoes back), your grace.”
Duchess giggles: “He has from time to time been a guest at the castle. You understand?” (very light voice now).
Sprout (getting up) “I entirely understand, your grace.” (Writing down something on pad). “Cork-soles just like Lady Rosina’s. Uh. When did your grace wish for delivery?”
Duchess walking out: “Oh, any time that is convenient. Oh … Mr Sprout …” (door opens, fell tingles, as man hold it for her).
Sprout: “Your grace?”
Duchess: “Since Lady Rosina speaks so well of your work, I think I’ll take a whole dozen pairs after all.”
Sprout (eyebrows raised high). He looks keen and knowing as she walks out. He shakes his head.
She is humming lightly.
Scene 27: Again the sitting room for Duke and Duchess and family at Gatherum (recognized by frilly blue skirted lamp, like a little crinoline).
Much is taken from Prime Minister, II, Chapter 32, p 274-278.
Establishment shot: to the front of the room before the fireplace, on a large well made basket, two black boots, one laid on its side, showing the rubber soles.
Mastershot: as she comes in she is humming the same tune, but she has a different dress and hat on.
A little later in scene, she removes elegant hat
Enough time has gone by for the man to make 12 pairs of cork-soled boots. A short maid taking mincing steps behind her as she comes in.
The Duke opens the door suddenly and sharply.
Duchess: “Yes” (looking in the mirror at herself). Mastershot shows us the configuration of the room, where they are in relation to one another, the maid. She is still humming.
He closes the door. Irritated dark look in his face.
Duke: “Why is it hard to kill an established evil?”
Duchess: “What evil have you failed to kill, Duke?”
He is standing looking at cork soled boots, picks one up, looks at soles. (We are to recall that when Lady Rosina talked about cork soled boots she meant nothing else, no subtext; the Duchess is endlesss subtext.)
Duke: “The people in Silverbridge (the maid comes over to where he is and he begins to help her pick up the basket by handing it to her), they’re still saying I want to return a candidate for ‘em.”
Duchess: “Oh! (looks hesitant and smiles placatingly). So that’s the evil. It seems to me to be an admirable (maid quietly walks out the door, new mastershot of room from another angle) institution which for some reason you wish to murder.”
Duke (soft voice): “Well, I must do what I think is right. I’m sorry I don’t carry you with me in this matter, Cora.” (He turns round to face her). “But I think you’ll agree on this (piercing look at her, she looks down though not facing him, but us) that when I say a thing should be done, then it should be done.”
She sighs and with a wry expression on her face she puts on gloves.
He looks grim.
Duchess: “Any more suicidal thing than throwing away that borough was never done in all history.
Who will thank you? How will it help you? It is like King Lear throwing off his clothes in the storm because his daughters threw him out.”
Duke (deep voice) “Glencora. Cora.” (Bridling and he walks to the wide door and closes both sides of one facing us. He means to endure a scene.)
She sits, now gloveless and begins to take off her hat.
Duke turns round. “Now I have chosen that I shall know nothing about this election in Silverbridge because I think that that is right.”
Duchess. “Yes, Uncle Lear.”
Duke: “And I’ve chosen that you should know nothing about it. (Walks behind her and sits to her side, but nearby), and yet they’re saying at Silverbridge that you are canvassing for Mr Lopez.”
Glencora (turns round, close up, concerned face). “Who says that?”
Duke: “I don’t think that it matters who said it so long as it is untrue. Now I trust that it is untrue.”
Duchess (look perturbed and worried). (Gulps.) “Of course I haven’t been canvassing for Mr Lopez.”
Camera on his dark face listening.
Duke listening, darkened face
Duchess: “But I did just happen to mention to Mr Sprout the cork-sole man that I rather approve of Mr Lopez in a general social way.”
Duke (low voice): “Well, Mr Sprout is a very prominent citizen in Silverbridge. Well, I particularly asked you not to speak on this matter to anyone at all.”
Duchess: “But I only said that I thought .. think that he … “
Duke (interrupts fiercely) “What business had you to say anything” (loud, emphatic, the feel of him hitting something without doing it).
She looks up at him. “Well, I suppose I may have my sympathies as well as another. You’ve become so autocratic (she gets up and walks over to the door, looks like she is about to open it) I shall have to go in for women’s rights.”
Duke (other side of the room). “Cora. Cora. Don’t separate yourself from me. Don’t disjoin yourself from me in all these troubles” (crying sound in his voice).
Duchess (high pitched and turns round) “What am I to do when you consistently scold me. ‘What right had you to say anything?’ No woman likes that sort of thing, and I do not know of any who like it less than Glencora (comes over to sofa and curtsies) Duchess of Omnium.”
He stands, shaking his head. “My dear” (soft voice) “you know how anxious I am to share everything with you in politics but at the last there must be one voice and that must be the ruling voice.”
Duchess: “and that is to be yours. Of course.”
Duke: “In matters such as this it must be.”
Duchess; “But do not you see that is why I like to do a little business on my own behind your back. It is human nature and you have got to put up with it. I wish you had a better wife, but as you haven’t you had better make the best of your bargain and not expect too much of it.”
Close up on him: “I still expect it certainly but not without trying to amend it.”
She looks down (close up on her).
Duke (Cont’d): “Now I will not have it said that the castle is trying to influence the borough (very bitter and low voice) and from this time on, I command (very loud and clearly enunciated word) your utter obedience in this.”
Camera goes back and forth between their faces.
She nods a slight assent and we hear the anamnesic music come in.
End of Part 21. The moment where he says, Cora, Cora, don’t separate yourself from me, don’t disjoin yourself very moving. It also hits at precisely where men cannot understand feminism.
A few concluding notes on this part: If you count as a scene action which occurs in the same general place, this episode has the longest scene of the whole series: a long series of encounters and conversations that occur at Gatherum at what we are to suppose is an ongoing and even nightly typical grandiose party with the Duchess as presiding genius and the Duke the reluctant observer (lurking Dolly says it in the wings, using a word that reminds me of people on lists who never speak or write). If on the other hand, you count as a scene each time a new character enters or a character who is central to a dialogue leaves, this is a extraordinary display of virtuoso patterning of scenes. I agree with the director who said each time a new character enters a scene, it’s new because the new presence alters the atmosphere.
Choral moment: Marie Finn and Barrington Erle (Moray Watson)
The context for the above three scenes are choral conversations where we see Dolly and Barrington Erle, the Duke of St Bungay (Roger Livesey) and Monk (Bryan Pringle, made very old by tiny glasses and mustaches) and other politician figures, including now once again Marie Finn (as Madame Max she functioned this way when she first appeared), speaking lines in the novel the narrator speaks, which meditate and which usually assert the Duke is wrong for not approving of his wife’s conduct, that the Duchess is performing an important function in keeping politicans happy, and even the Duke himself: when the Duke asks St Bungay if he really thinks politics works through such parties, St Bungay says why yes, for what drives most men is vanity.
The question this film asks (it is a different one from Trollope’s in his book) is how much corruption is necessary. The parallel or contrasting story of Lopez shows us a snake, a moral horror who has so corrupted himself he is become something deeply pernicious to anyone’s leading a life with meaning. The Duke will not sully his heart at all, even to the extent the world regards as trivial: when Duchess says of Silverbridge to the Duke, that it behooves the Duke not to allow others to see how much he disapproves of his son’s conduct, that it’s a peccadillo to most people, one which doesn’t matter (as nothing that counts to pragmatists rides on Silverbridge getting a degree), he replies that to him it is deeply shameful that his son does not respect learning and will not have any.
And the sub-story provides the dark notes of corruption. Again in Trollope the emphasis is on Lopez as outsider; here his outside status is what drives him and enables him paradoxically to make his way in. Not in itself the emphasis (as in Trollope)
Lopez (played with great acumen by Stuart Wilson) is pitch itself, the man who has no principles whatsoever and thus can be counted on to do anything.
Lopez as wild man; in this part two Stuart rarely makes eye contact with others
If seen in the context of our world today, Lopez would be okay hiring torturers as all part of his day on the way to some luxuriant party where he borrowed money to wear fancy clothes.
In the long scenes with Sexty Parker (David Ryall), one at the beginning of the episode where Lopez returns the bill he had gotten Sexty to sign and is very contented and pleasant because he thinks he’s about to marry money (Emily [Sheila Ruskin]) and get a seat in Parliament (through the Duchess), he is kind to Sexty and all magnanimity, but in the second to last scene of this episode he is in an intense state of high charge since even though he now has permission to marry Emily, his father-in-law, Abel Wharton (very able, Brewster Mason) has not given him a dime and has not brought the subject of money up (Lopez becomes intensely biting and fraught when Sexty says well, you bring it up) and he is now having to spend great sums to look rich (buy an expensive honeyman, rent a palatial apartment) and also possibly to be elected (as after all the Duchess has become enigmatic and insinuates that she cannot do anything explicit fo him as the Duke himself refuses to favor anyone).
In the talk of this sub-story, Abel Wharton insists that he disapproves of Lopez because 1) he can find out nothing about him, and 2) is also an alien to them all (a foreigner) is disapproved of. He is a “man dropped out of the moon” (Raven’s wording):
Lopez is Jewish, but it’s rather the people know nothing of him. We can see in the scenes between Parker and Lopez despite Lopez’s reiteration he also loves Emily, what he longs for intensely is her money.
So he’s half-hysterical in temperament, and when he cannot get money from Wharton and desperately needs it, he shouts and menaces Sexty to get him to sign a bill for 2000 pounds. He turns into a kind of slitherly sliding animal, ready to pounce. Just before he saved Wharton’s foolish son, Everett (Gareth Forwood) in the park (a scene which parallels how Phineas saved Kennedy and also despite Kennedy’s dislike and distrust of him got Kennedy to accept him) and got the father’s permission to marry Emily, Everett had wanted to get into parliament for he (naively, the whole of the Palliser series shows) thinks he can do real good and will be simply so honorable by being there, but episode suggests otherwise. The parallel in this episode is inadequate sons and naive women (no feminism here):
Comic absurd image; they are looking up at father
In this episode Susan Hampshire plays the Duchess differently than she has before. Suddenly she is hard, often taking on a tart pert and flirting tone that is more than slightly distasteful because it’s projected as cold and calculating, and for the first time the film-makers have dressed her very sexily. She wears a lot of diamonds and her outfits are over-the-top in glitter and furbelows and flounces and feathers. She has one of the kinds of bras used frequently in costume drama today which push a woman’s breasts high up and make them prominent like two squashed hills (to me looking like they are now ready for their mammogram). The talk (as I’ve said) is all in her favor by the choral characters: her flirting with the banally immoral and stupid Sir Orlando is justified by Marie too.
But if the talk of the episode justifies her, not the way she is made to act, and what happens. She is out of her depths. She has mistakenly chosen Lopez for her candidate attracted by this snake who glides up to her garments (yes Eve with the serpent comes to mind) because she does share in her mind and heart some of his characteristics.
The episode also shows that she also lacks the cunning to pick a candidate who has at least a minimum of truth-telling and social responsibility which will enable him say to support himself (Lopez is lying from the get-go as he hasn’t a dime) and the implication goes way back to 9:19 where Lopez is brought up, and as Madame Max as Barbara Murray suggests to Susan Hampshire as the Duchess to stay away.
And Lopez in over his head because he is spending madly when he should not. He does not recognize that he makes a fool of himself in front of his father-in-law when he boasts of huge apartment which he will drop in a moment and of fancy honeymoon. That’s suicidal in its way. So Duchess is absurd for supporting Lopez; he is leaping well beyond his capacity with his wedding tour, apartment, buying and selling and now wanting to be elected, foolhardy in the extreme.
Silverbridge ashamed of himself as he begins to tell his friend he must leave and quickly
Here again the parallel shows the Duchess in an amoral light: towards the end of the episode she mentions to Silverbridge she has noticed Tregear and Lady Mary attracted to one another. She therefore wants Tregear out, and she suddenly says she needs the room.
The Duchess only cares what the world thinks and tells husband he must pretend not to care about Silverbridge’s ejection. I felt for the duke. And Raven’s Tregear again is not at all Trollope’s character who is enigmatically ambitious, a man on the make, harder with less ideals than Phineas Finn, the earlier type in the series. In the novel it is the Duke who throws someone out: Major Pountney and he looks bad. This episode substitutes two scenes with Sir Orlando (asking for armaments to have something to do and asking for election place for nephew) but cannot be thrown out even if Lady Rosina and Duke know he is a “wretch.”
This reminds me of General Tilney’s behavior in Austen’s Northanger Abbey. She wants him out and now. “How dare he” and “what presumption” says the Duchess. This to a young man who has left his education to keep Silverbridge company; he takes it pretty well from Silverbridge (he doesn’t care that much for Lady Mary as well will find out).
In the next episode Tregear (Jeremy Irons) is an unambitious poet-travelling type who has a soul and heart and has been rejected by Lady Mabel (in Duke’s Children we are told he wandes an climbs through Alpine mountains; and earlier in films John Grey is humanized by putting him in a climbing alps outfit); there is a gliding over the homosexual material here. Slowly material from The Duke’s Children woven in.
How much they get into 55 minutes! And I have omitted how aged a number of them suddenly are. They have been getting older, but here they seem to put on another 10 years from last time.
On to 10:22.
Thumbnail outline of The Pallisers, with links to all the summaries
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