In the afternoon, as we were driven rapidly along in the post chaise, he said to me, “Life has not many things better than this” (Boswell’s Life of Johnson, Thursday, 21 March 1776)
Lady Mary (Kate Nicholls) drawing outside the Matching Priory ruins
Dear Readers and Movie-Lovers,
This is another of the great parts of this series. Previous extraordinarily good hours were 2:3, 5:10, 8:15 and 8:16. Episodes 31-33 takes us to the film’s close of The Prime Minister matter as well as a culminating moment of the whole series; Episodes 34-35 are pure Duke’s Children, with Silverbridge the last of our young heroes (here only momentarily) astray.
At the close of the previous four novels, we have had a transition of some sort: except for the ending of The Eustace Diamonds (7:14, it has been a return to the pleasure grounds of Matching envisaged as an Arcadia, where we began (1:1), e.g., the transition of Can You Forgive Her to Phineas Finn, 3:6. But now we are not transitioning so much as anticipating a final close and a death of a principal character: so we are asked to remember back to the beginning, the marriage of the Palliser pair, think of the price the winners we are seeing paid, and look at what they have won. The mood is one central to many of these sorts of series: the elegiac. It is a mood rarely available to modern so-called non-costume drama (all movies are in costume), and and one this particular part dwells within continually by repeatedly giving us picturesque and yearning scenes.
A central mode and mood of film adaptations of older books which are also older costume drama is the elegiac. Why is this is rarely available to modern contemporary films. You need the slow graceful pace for at least a few moments; you need the distance so that you can lend yourself to believing such sentiments can be uttered and at length; you need the beautiful surroundings ,the subtle long-drawn developing characterization in a seriously-taken story. The drawing room in this part of the series has become green as a meadow, lit with sunlight.
Now that Lopez (Stuart Wilson, very great in the role) is dead, and the Wharton story cut adrift (11:23),
1) the Duke and Duchess (Philip Latham and Susan Hampshire) are again to the fore; 2), the political themes important to the Phineas books brought back (e.g., the question of the possibility of a fairer juster political system, or more equality in life and what this means) and made central once again (if only as a “fading dream”); and 3), the scenes of the Duke’s children are given more depth for themselves (not as contrasting to and defining the relationship and point of life for the Duke and Duchess).
The political theme unites the double-story of Duke and Duchess aging and the next generation replacing them, for Silverbridge’s (Anthony Andrews) stance as a Tory is (in effect, though he is too young to see this clearly) an attempt to change the family allegiance (as he will be the next Duke) to the Tories, and is thus a grave blow to all the Duke sees himself as having striven for when it came to legislative change.
What Raven has done is defer a good deal of the material about the fall of the Duke from The Prime Minister to work it out at more length (especially focusing on the Duchess) and interwoven this with material from The Duke’s Children — which had begun in the previous episodes, here and there:
1) the grown Mary (Kate Nicholls) and Silverbridge first introduced and Mary and Frank first see one another at the end of 10:20
2) Mary’s and Tregear’s (Jeremy Irons) attraction, the duchess’s objections to this and Silverbridge’s backing his mother are woven into 10:21;
3) Silverbridge’s having been thrown out of Oxford, the duke’s distress, and the son’s being sent to Venice which occasions the duchess and Duke’s visit; a slow motion interweaving of Lady Mabel Grex (Anna Carteret), seen first in Venice with Miss Cassewary (Josie Kid) and Treager with Silverbridge: Lady Mabel and Frank look very strained in Silverbridge’s apartment in Venice where enigmatic pregnant words about knowing one another already are passed. All found in 11:22;
4) at Matching we see Tregear attracted to Lady Mary and she to him by looks: 11:23).
So a careful look at the previous 4 episodes shows material developed or adapted from The Duke’s Children threaded into The Prime Minister and contrasted with the Wharton story matter; this enabled Raven to hold off on some of the PM matter, its half-defeated close, until now.
The important thing was to string out Lady Glen or the Duchess’s presence so that she would die in the very last episode and not before. The point of the filmic The Duke’s Children is not (as in Trollope’s book) to show a disillusioned lonely man refusing to allow his daughter to have what his wife wanted for her; Trollope’s duke reacts with a refusal out of vicarious imagined emotional losses. The point of the filmic Prime Minister, and filmic Duke’s Children is to show us how a companionate marriage emerged after much compromise and pain. The series began with that magnificent visually symbolic scene in the park of a forced match, and it ends in understanding and compromise, and beautiful children too (that matters). In the films, The Duke’s Children also the most truncated of the books is as foreshortened as The Eustace Diamonds (which to my taste lingered on too long but it had to for Mr Emilius was the murderer in Trollope’s Phineas Redux. Really we have at most three episodes at the most for this sixth novel; a tiny bit more if you count stray episodes looking forward to this from 10:20; see thumbnail outline.
I will do as I have done in earlier postings on the series, both summarize the episodes and comment on themes, mood, and individual scenes.
Episode 31: Changing Times
The first scene occurs between an aging Barrington Erle (Moray Watson) and Dolly Longestaffe (Donald Pickering) at the club discussing Lopez’s ejection and the probable coming defeat of the present government. They are chorus once again and provide a frame; at the same time, Silverbridge brings Major Tifto (John Ringham) to the club; thus a major figure in The Duke’s Children is introduced, and (as in the novel) Dolly swiftly sees Tifto is, and exposes him as, a liar. Tifto insinuates he has had an affair with an opera singer, and Dolly (knowing far more her far more than Tifto) asks if Tifto isn’t afraid of her husband. Tifto becomes nervous and anxious about spreading these stories suddenly (source: Duke’s Children, Chapter 7, 1995 Penguin, pp 41-42). Changing times is seen in the aging of Erle and Longstaffe; their preference to sit in a private room, the open talk of sex (which Erle looks embarrassed at) and gambling. There is also a foreshadowing: when Dolly says to Erle “Lady Glen would have made a better Prime Minister,” Erle replies: “I daresay. He’d certainly be lost without her.” The Tifto material comes from The Duke’s Children, Ch 6 (“Major Tifto”), in the Penguin, pp. 41-42.
The second scene is a moving one between the Duchess and Duke of St Bungay (Roger Livesey). It is a semi-original replay of scenes from The Prime Minister, Chs 63, pp. 543-45 and 66, 563-64. Much changed in detail but the basis of the affectionate relationship between the two and their determined attempt to shield the Duke is taken from Trollope; the difference is while Trollope admires the duke for his ethics, he does not sympathize with what he calls “coddling.” In Raven’s scene, the duchess wants to know if the government can last and he gives her answer she doesn’t like: it can’t. She blames herself for Lopez and Bungay exonerates her by saying if it hadn’t been Lopez, it would have been something else. In the novel the last straw is the Duke’s giving the garter to a good man whose virtue deserves it, Lord Earlybird. Raven provides mouth-to-mouth kissing at the end, by visuals suggesting the Duke’s attraction to this woman, but the last still shows her face worn, distressed, unhappy. She kissed to please him, not herself.
Third scene, Bungay, Erle and Phineas discuss coming dissolution. This is reinforcing what is dramatized in more scattered passages in the novel and includes Monk.
Fourth scene, the Duchess and Mrs Finn (Barbara Murray). This is analogous to Prime Minister, Ch 76, pp. 657-59. The duchess expresses her bitter regret the government has to go, and Mrs Finn says she does not mind that her husband will not be in office; does not care about such things unless he does. He’ll be back; but, says the Duchess, her husband will never be PM again. This scene segues into a culminating of the series whose textual basis is a short paragraph in PM where as Phineas and the Duke come to the end of their talk we are told they see the Duchess, Mrs Finn and the Pallisers’ eldest daughter in the carriage (PM, Ch 68, p 586).
Her hat a weapon, a barrier and guard
Scene 5, front room, Matching now this beautifully pastorally-colored place where greens and yellows and sunlight predominate.
This is an extraordinary scene between Frank Tregear Jeremy Irons) and Lady Mabel. This is our first complete true DC and yet it is wholly re-imagined by Raven from the narrator’s allusive references (DC, Chapters 9, “In Media Res,” pp. 56-61, 10, pp. 63-68, and especially 38 [Grex], pp. 237-38). Now the original scene far more subversive and disquieting than this one of reproach, Frank in Trollope’s original conception a ruthless riser, not this melancholy remorseful partly yearning young man of Raven.
In Raven’s scene it’s clear Frank and Mabel were once physical lovers and they could be so again were she to have time and space to get to him. [It is a man’s view where the man’s being trapped and woman the aggressor — which coheres with an introduction by Raven to Trollope’s An Eye for an Eye.] It’s fascinating how a number of the key lines occur in Trollope and the feel is utterly transformed into something less complex yet at once far more poignant and far more bitter. (Life does not yield such strong stuff and Trollope ever tries to imitate life.)
The coloring and tone of the mise-en-scene here is elegiac; she is pleading with him not to forget her and there are lines which suggestively insinuate she would be willing (again) to have sex with him if he would break it off with Lady Mary. It’s a beautifully picturesque and yearning, melancholy scene between Jeremy Irons as noble, well-meaning Frank Tregear, and Anna Carteret, as Lady Mabel Grex who is now wrenchingly regretful that she had given up Tregear two years ago now that she sees him at Matching and taking up with Lady Mary (played winsomely by Kate Nicholls), a few lines delivered by Irons had the tone, the very accents of Ronald Colman when he makes one of his poignant rueful appeals.
Establishment shot: Lady Mabel about to walk upstairs; we see Frank Tregear from the back inside the room. She turns to see him as she goes up; she walks back and into the room and over to him.
Lady Mabel: “Frank.”
Frank: “Good afternoon, Lady Mabel. Is the carriage ready?”
Mabel: “They’re not all there yet. Frank … (her face open to him)”
Frank looks down and then up; he avoids eye contact at the same time looking sensitively pained.
Mabel: “I wonder when we were last alone together.”
Frank: “Two years and more I suppose” (so also in 11:22 and the visit of Duke and Duchess to Venice was supposed to be after this)
Mabel (her lips tight): “[?] that summer at Lady Cantripp’s. Does not it make you yearn a little when you remember it?”
Frank: “What’s the good, Lady Mabel? We both agreed we should give it up because neither of us had the money. Let’s just stick to that.”
Mabel; “That you once swore that you should love me forever.”
Frank: “And you swore some things to me and yet it was you who said we should drop it.”
Mabel: “So I did. But I think the wrench has been greater for me. Your love has been transferred very quickly and very advantageously … [?] Lady Mary.”
Frank: “Yours has not been so very abiding. You do not, I notice, discourage Lord Silverbridge.
Mabel: “That is unkind, Frank. You know very well with such a father as Grex and such a brother as Perceval and the years going all very quickly, I must soon find a husband.”
Frank breathes deep, looks down.
Mabel: “There need be no such haste for you, Frank (her hand is now on his and the camera rests there). You might have been faithful to me for some while yet and you would not have gone wholly unrewarded.”
It’s here they come close, his face twitches and he shakes his head. (We may see she is asking him to be her lover while she gets herself a husband unscrupulously to pay the bills. This is very Henry James kind of couple — anticipating The Wings of the Dove had it been written by Trollope, but it wasn’t this.)
Frank: “You bad me take my love elsewhere and that I’ve done” (sad melancholy soft tone).
Lady Mabel’s voice much louder: “Yes. With the greatest ease” (bitter tone, hurt eyes).
Frank (now he walks off); “I cannot tear my heart and my life to pieces for the sake of an old love” (this is not Trollope’s much harder character).
They are on different sides of the room and then they swiftly walk to one another and are close: “Let’s go and join the others.” (They look as if they are about to kiss.)
Mabel: “Oh Frank I wish … ”
And then the interruption; as she is looking up to him, Silverbridge comes in and sees them. He does not register something is happening in front of him that matters (as he later does on DC about these two as lovers).
Silverbridge (opening door): “There you are, you two, come on, the carriage is waiting.”
Look on Frank’s face picked up by camera.
Mabel; “Yes, we were just coming (in an excited high emotional voice) as you see” (hurried tone, steps over towards Silverbridge)
Silverbridge put his arm out and she takes it.
Mabel: “Thank you, Silverbridge (they go out the door together). How well that coat becomes you …”
Frank follows looking grave (an ideal face for this character).
Mabel (loud voice still): “Which of your horses do you ride today?” [he has so many]
Scene of room over and we see it empty now and that is a meaningful chord. It’s the possession or not of such a room that makes Silverbridge what he is and the other two what they are not.
The poignancy of this deceptive ending (Lady Mabel deceiving SIlverbridge) then segues into a glorious elegiac moment — embodying the ambiguity of experience.
Scene 6: Just outside Matching, beautiful sunny day. Silverbridge and Mabel come out and hurry over to carriage, she climbs into carriage with Mrs Finn (waiting from Scene 4) and Lady Mary who has a blanket she puts over Lady Mabel’s lap. Tregar and Gerald (Michael Cochrane). Gerald has first eager lines of “Come on, come on, ” also showing he has less brains and self-consciousness than the others, ) on horses waiting and Duchess emerges in the sun.
The Duchess looks about (wonderful moment as she is beneath great hat and puts on gloves) and is in command; comes over but decides she will be the leader of the horses and take the reigns. Memories of 2:3 where she came in with Alice Vavasour (Caroline Mortimer) and said how she loved to ride and loved to be the driver of a carriage too but the Duke frowned on it.
Episode 32: Fading Dreams
Scene 7: Establishment shot: Phineas (Donal McCann) and Duke seen at medium distance in Duke’s study, Duke behind desk, Phineas in chair, talking intently. From PM, Vol 4, Ch 68, pp 582-86.
Duke: “Do you think it will soon go against us, Finn?”
Finn: “Yes, Duke, soon.”
Duke: “Ah, how so? (shaking finger) surely we could hold on to the beginning of the next season.”
We hear clopping of horses outside (we know it’s Duchess and family and friends in carriage and riding in beautiful place on fine day)
Finn: “I’m very doubtful of that.”
Duke: (Bitter now) “To have done so little, hmmm . . . In fact I would fain carry on. No. I . . . I’m determined to carry on, Finn, so long as there is any hope that we may be of service.”
Finn: “There comes a time for any government when it’s best service is to be gone.
[Elegiac tone suffused dialogue]
Duke (looks down sad.) “Well, I do not think it’s come to that yet. In fact, I pray not. (Gets up and walks over to another area.) No I would like to do at least some one thing before we go (apparently picked up and now waving blue books).”
Finn: “What is it your Grace would do if you could?”
Duke: (walking back, rueful tone): “If I could, Finn, hmmm, if I could . . . I would spread justice over the entire earth. I would lead chosen friends loving hearts, clear intellect, noble instinct whose one great aim was to abolish the distance between men.”
Finn: “Do men really want that?”
Duke: (Exasperated slight noise, sound like “Finn!”, walks a little): “How can we to whom so much has been given dare to think otherwise?
Finn: “But that which we have been given which if distributed equally would dwindle so pitifully that no man would get anything worth the having.”
Duke: “At least we would be all alike and there’d be justice. Oh Finn (shaking fits) you’re a liberal because you now that all is not what it should be. Because you’d march onto some nearer approach to equality?
Finn: “I want a fairer world, if that’s what you mean.”
Duke. (Makes sound like “Oh!” lips shake) “No no. I mean that as you are a just and liberal man then you must want all men to be equal.”
Finn sits back, “Mmmm.” (Looks melancholy and earnest and sad. He does not appear to
think men are equal nor are they at all like the Duke)
Duke: “Equality is so great thing, so glorious [tone turns acrid, disgust felt] that you become disgusted by the promise of it in the mouths of blood-thirsty and corrupt men.”
Finn: “Such men have asserted a mock equality so much that the very idea of the thing stinks in my nostrils.”
Duke: (Hamlet-like here) “And yet I fear that though equality is but a dream that may never come … still sometimes one likes to dream” (farther off shot, he walks around desk), “especially as there is no danger that Marching all this [his hand indicates his beautiful study and the landscape outside his window — in which we know his Duchess and adult children and Mrs Finn are riding] will ever be flown away when I wake up.” (Now bangs on world globe). “Ah, it’s pleasant to play with the idea of a millenium, Finn, that will never come to destroy me. Now, I doubt I should stand the test that’s been attempted in other countries.
Finn: “Yes, you should be thankful the English are not given to violent revolution. They prefer to enjoy what they have in peace and leave others to do likewise” (implication Duke would be a big loser).
Duke: “Will it always be so?”
Finn: “That I cannot say. For the time at least Duke, you are free to enjoy your domaine (pointing outwards to grounds beyond) and to walk in it without fear.”
Duke: : (smiles): “Well, Phineas, let’s walk in it together before the best of the day is gone.”
(Again sound of carriage, and next shot of next scene is of deep clear light steely blue sky with ruins seen.)
And then the scene with the Duchess: somehow this next one feels like the true ending of series; it should have ended here — the happy moment, but as in life the curtain does not come down then. It’s at a later serendipitious older moment the end comes.
Establishment shot: Out of doors. We see horses emerging from the left hand of the frame and see them clopping, we see ruins. Soft blue sky, light breeze, glorious day. Horses seen from vantage of Duke and Phineas (who we know this from previous scene). Curiously memorable one of the grown children (Silverbridge, Gerald, Lady Mary,, Duchess, Mrs Finn and Lady Mabel) processing out to the grounds of matching on a fine spring day — one’s heart stops at the sense of a precious moment caught from the flux of time (see picture above).
Carriage and three horses go by, and then we see back of Phineas from back, black, top-hat and then two top-hatted men whose black silhouettes are closer to us with carriage moving from distance inbetween. Lovingly done. We watch and this is supposed to make us rejoice
The group slowly comes round the path and tree and down towards the men on the path which realls (though not exactly same) Alice Vavasour and Lady Glen ride ever so many years (episodes) ago, Lady Glen driving then and saying how much she loved this. She waves, and camera shows two men lift hats and wave back. Camera then catches them slowing down, stopping and her high on the seat, beginning to come down.
Duke: “Well, good afternoon, my dear.”
Duchess: “Have you had a nice afternoon, Duke?”
Duke: “Yeah. Very pleasant. Oh, Finn, and I we’ve just been talking uh oh politics.”
Duchess: (As she takes flowers from bouquet which seems there somehow) “Well, what other amusement is possible on such a beautiful afternoon” (this comes from somewhere in PM but I can’t find it)
Duke: “Uh, we’re just going out to enjoy it now” (murmurs inarticulate)
[Another picturesque-lovely still from these later Palliser parts, here the Duchess puts a flower in the lapel of the Duke (Philip Latham) after an exhilarating ride for her and before a pleasant walk for him on a bright day at Matching. A nostalgia for what never was matches to pastoral melancholy of the Matching front room, but bright with the spirit of Duchess as conceived by Raven. We once saw her put a flower in Burgo Fitzgerald’s lapel, 1:1]
Then from horses of three young men behind:
Gerald: “Silver, Tregear, race you both through the (?) wood?”
Silver: “Right. Tregear?”
Silver: “Mrs Finn (signaling his body to her) shall give us orders.”
Mrs Finn: “As you wish, gentleman” (and camera catches her excited happy face, and she gets up hgh on the carriage): “Back, Mr Tregear. Steady, Silverbridge. Are you ready, gentlemen?”
[We are to remember her past too, and what she gave up at first and then how she gained Phineas who stands to the side of the carriage, with women laughing behind and actresses really do look gay and happy, they enjoy this enactment in these costumes in this site de memoire (history). This again is a true moment of culmination for Phineas and Marie.
Mrs Finn: “Off!”
Lady Mary: “Go! Silverbridge …”
Other lady’s voices shouting (indecipherable who) and we see them gallop off hell for leather
Back to waiting group:
Duke”: “Well these boys should take more care. Oh come along, Finn.”
Duchess holds on to his arm, elbow, slightly from the back. Finn puts a hand on her shoulder. He walks on, Finn next to Duchess and then camera swings to watch young men riding through another landscape, past that ruin.
Young man on horse (Tregear?): “Come on!” (He is way ahead.) He moves to and through ruined wall with big gap (looks like Tregear).
Then man on white-silver horse, appropriately, we remember this is Silverbridge: “Right! The last one at the Lodgegate’s a sissy!”
Gerald (the dunce, the clutz, it was he who started this): “Right! Ouff!” (as he comes through).
Now silver-white horse is rounding a tree, Gerald following and they are on the other side of the river from where we saw them originally and they ride forward, apparently Tregear in the lead.
Scene 9: Matching, front room, in walk Lady Mabel and Mary. There is no such scene in DC; instead Chs 29, pp. 181-82, 184-85, mostly narrated scene of Silverbridge asking Mary to be friends as an old friend of his, and then striking encounter where Silverbridge takes Mary to visit Lady Mabel and they find Tregear there with Miss Cass (! — the chaperon makes it respectable) and Mary thrusts herself into Tregear’s arms, they kiss and then Silverbridge breaks it up. Impossibly Victorian, theatrical melodrama.
Here we see Mary’s yearning for her father to approve of Tregear and regret that Treager raced; Lady Mabel’s memories of her young years growing up with Silverbridge. Mary understands her father’s valuing of “serious” nature in young man (in 1:1 Palliser’s most gut level objection to Lady Glen was she was not serious, she was frivolous).
Silverbridge, Tregear and Gerald barge in; Mary protests her father didn’t like it, and to Gerald and Silverbridge’s rejoinder’s, Mabel points to the Duke and Phineas seen in the distance by the ruin walking and “you see how earnestly” talking; Silverbridge looks and remarks how “old for his age” is his father, and Lady Mabel how young is Silverbridge; nevertheless she will walk with him, and they move out. Always these window scenes in the series. A motif brought back again and again as we watch different characters in and through it.
The scene moves to Gerald on the other side of Mary and Tregear; he is thick but gets message and Mary to Tregear (the conservative and replacement for her father): “so you may begin your first lesson . … in treason ….”
Scene 10: Duke’s study, from PM, Vol 4, Chapter 72, pp 619-21 (Penguin) and Chapter 76, pp. 659-660, Chapter 80, pp. 690-91. Bungay brings list of those “who want to resign from your ministry.” Painful when Duke asks if Bungay is resigning (no nor Monk nor Finn). Again Duke laments that they won’t give them another chance to enact something. To idea he must follow “chance” who may bring him in again, like the Duchess, he says “but never as Prime Minister”), and again “they were not brought in” to do significant legislation …
Episode 33: No Going Back.
Scene 11: Tregear approaches Lady Mary sketching by the ruin; sheer lyricism. Some of this adapted from Duke’s Children, Chapters 2, p 13 (narrated, Lady Mary tells Mrs Finn), and 29, pp. 184-185 (if not the words, the couple’s mood towards one another). The Duke’s Children is one of Trollope’s more Victorian novels in some of its attitudes and Raven to put this across uses a mood of bright comfort and high idealism. He has only a fragment of Tregear so he is turned into a poignant lover of Mary (which is then contrasted to Lady Mabel Grex’s loss of Frank and her unwillingness to betray herself and the boy by marrying him)
Feeling so strong it’s emotional pain
Scene 12: Duke in his study again, late at night. From Prime Minister, Chapter 72, pp. 619-21; Chapter 78, p. 620; and Chapter 80, p 691 (again reference to Caesar and Pompey, and adds “I am given to fretting …”) also, PM, Ch 66, p. 563 (where Trollope uses free indirect speech as follows: “The old duke [Bungay] had known them both well, but had hardly as yet given the Duchess credit for so true a devotion to her husband. It now seemed to him that, though she had failed to love the man, she had given her entire heart to the Prime Minster.”. In novel Monk is central in scenes or as talked about here; it’s Finn who is in the scenes and Monk and Finn talked about
Establishment shot: Duke in evening clothes, grim expression on his face, sitting on his chair
As they speak, the camera reveals that nearby are Finn and Bungay. Late at night.
Finn: “You must join us, Duke. You must not go altogether. We need you as a statesman and as a friend.”
Duke: “You’re very kind, gentlemen, but Caesar could never command a legion under Pompey.”
Bungay: “It has been done much to the benefit of the country, and with no loss of honor in him who did it.”
Duke gets up slowly: “It will never be done by me.” [plot-design of rest of parts of series will be showing him come to accept a new position in parliament as Duke [upper house] with relief after death of Duchess and his experiences of retirement alone and of his adult children.]
Bungay: “If the fact that you have been first minister should deprive the country of your services in other offices given [?] all the years you have left to you, then I for one shall think the loss irreparable.”
Finn: “And I second that. We cannot spare men ilke you, Duke, for very long.
Camera on Duke facing backwards, seen from shoulders up. He turns.
Duke: “Well, gentlemen, I can’t deny it pleases me to hear you say so. But for m’self I shall never desire to stand at the head of a government again. As you may have observed, I’m given to frettin’. I don’t think that a Prime Minister of a free country should suffer from that infirmity. In fact, for some years to come I would prefer to be altogether out of office. However, I pray that the time time come at last when I may again endeavour to be of some humble service” (This is the last sentence of Trollope’s The Prime Minister, p. 691).
Camera on Bungay looking at Duke gravely.
Duke: “Now if you will forgive (hand to forehead) me, gentlemen (he looks as if he really is about to cry) … (and)
Duchess comes in slowly, all in ivory and white lace. “You are all working very late.”
Duke: “Weighty matters to be decided.”
Duchess: (Worry and anxiety on her aging face, weary look): “But you are finished but that now.”
Bungay: “Yes, my dear, we are finished with that now.”
Camera on her nodding. She walks over to him. She puts her hand on his face, great affection in hers. He looks distressed, slightly paralyzed, not knowing what to do next.
Duchess whispers: “Come. It is time to go to bed.”
Scene 13: Duke and Duchess’s bedroom
This is taken from PM, Chs 72, pp. 622-24, and Ch 78, pp. 672-75
Establishment shot: she at her glass, he sitting in his bedroom jacket
Duchess: “What did he say?”
Duke: “I’m sorry, my dear (some noise), what?”
Duchess: “What did the Duke say?”
Duke: “Oh, that our days are numbered.”
Duchess: (she laughs a little). “Oh, I could have told him that long ago. There isn’t a porter at one of the clubs who doesn’t know that. Who is to succeed you?”
Duke: “Oh I shall advise her Majesty to send for Mr Gresham. Oh, she may wish to see Mr Daubeny as well. Not easy to make a ministry at present.”
Duchess: “Why should you not go back?”
Duke: “No. That is not on the cards.”
Duchess: “The why not? Ever so many men have done it after going out. Why not you? Oh, how could they be so ungrateful?”
Duke: “Cora. I’m not going back and there is no point in discussing it further.”
Duchess: “Of course. I understand nothing because I am a woman.”
Duke: “You understand a great deal, but not quite right. At least our troubles are over.
Duke: “Oh, I remember, you said the other day, the labor of being a prime minister’s wife [had been] almost too many for you.”
Duchess: “I never said so. As long as you did not give way, no labor’s were too great for me. I’d have slaved morning and night so that we might have succeeded. Oh, I do hate being beat like this. I’d sooner be cut to pieces.”
Duke: “Ah, nobody likes to be beaten, Cora. There is always disappointment at first.”
Duke: (Hand on her arm): “You did say you’d be relieved when it came.”
Duchess: “Yes, yes, I know and I meant it. Nevertheless, after drinking brandy so to speak for so long I really think a thin claret would hardly agree with my stomach. Hmmm. (She looks round at him.) Shall you like it for yourself?”
Duke: “I’m a private gentleman, my dear, with more time for his wife and children.”
Duchess: “Well, that is all very well, Duke, but we ain’t quite what you’re used to. You can’t bully us like a cabinet meeting or bring in a bill for reforming us or make us go by decimals. You’ll find us very dull subjects to work on.”
Duke: “Oh, I don’t think so, Cora. Ah, there is Gerald and Silverbridge. They’re going to need guidance and advice.”
Duchess: “Indeed. But you needn’t heap it on them by the cartload.”
Duke: Oh, Mary too, you know she’s got to be settled.”
Duchess: “Now that is woman’s work.”
Duke: “Oh yah. Oh very well.”
Duchess: “Oh well. I can dare to tell the truth about this change, Planty, even if you cannot. Oh yes (intense grief in her face close-up), it will make me unhappy.”
They hug, shake a little (movement image here).
Duke: (he whispers): “I can be honest too, with you at any rate. It will fret me to be without work.”
Duchess: “Yes, yes, I know. I am sorry. I do feel responsible [reference to Lopez debacle].”
Duke: “That is nonsense. It would have happened anyway.”
Duchess: “Well, I shall not be altogether discontented.”
Duke: “What will your contentment be?”
Duchess: “In you. In you (gratified look on her face). Your work was making you ill. Rough people whom your tender nature could not understand worried you. Oooh! I’d have given them worry for worry, but you could not. Well, [?] you’ll be free of them, and I so I shall be contented (close up).
Duke: “Then I shall be contented too.” His face close up seen from a slant looking gravely and very tenderly at hers.” (PM material now come to an end)
Episode 34: Future plans.
Scene 14: Matching front room, begins with Silverbridge telling Frank he must give “it” [Mary] up. DC, Chapter 14, pp. 87-89, Chapter 31, pp. 191-92. Lines about the Duke: “he’ll say a word or two which you’ll find very hard to bear … My governor’s the quietest man going, but he has got a way of making himself disagreeable when he wishes that I never saw equaled.” Mabel comes in with a distraught expression on her face, Silverbridge says to Tregear to “push along, and Silverbridge proposal scene with Mabel and her rejection ensues. DC, Chapter 19, pp. 120-24.
In book scene is so much less pleasant, and we see more what these young intrinsically hard and selfish people are. It’s played here far more plangently and less bitterly than the scene in Trollope. This is true throughout the adaptation of this last novel. Much more romantic at all points.
They are in the film scene somewhat gay and playful, begin with talk of money which to Silverbridge means nothing for real (“What an accursed thing is money …”) and only when Mabel “lets him off the hook” (an ugly phrase which comes out of a mindset which regards women as trapping men) does the scene really veer into Trollope’s mindset, and even then her prominent reason for saying no, that she does not love him, is brought to the surface in a way it’s not quite in the scene. The proto-feminism of Trollope’s approach which is to emphasize her desperation and bring in Silverbridge’s sense something went on between her and Tregear is dropped; she is more simply not able to come up to her own cynicism.
The mise-en-scene is again the pastoral green ambiance of the part, with the window not far off. She does look out window from time to time; she is watching Mary and Frank. She does tell him he can come again and he looks all vulnerable and willing. She says she’s won; he says it’s been a draw. She says he needs to be harder (ironically this will boomerang at her)
Scene 15: First of Duke’s scenes with Silverbridge. He has papers and is talking to Silverbridge.
From DC, Chs 26, pp. 167-69, 27, pp. 172-74 (in book it takes place at Silverbridge’s club and is interrupted by Tifto). In book he is older than Lady Mabel by a week; in film she is older than him by a week. Duke suggests Parliament for a career and the seat at Silverbridge now open; Silverbridge tells of his desire to marry Lady Mabel; Duke remembers Lady Mabel’s alcoholic and gambling father and relative poverty but it does not matter; in the book he goes further: realizes she is the kind of person he would naturally be comfortable with. So wants her for daughter-in-law. First of two scenes, the second longish and important.
Scene 16: Invented scene of Duchess and Duke segued into. Duchess in boudoir, again inhaling some medicine (foreshadowing):
She is not for it. She says Silverbridge is too young for Lady Mabel, and she says he’ll get bored, Duke refers to Lady Mabel’s attractiveness and “she’s very clever” and he doubts the boy will be bored (salacious undercurrent in a gentle jest); to which she replies that she will not “interfere” just give “loving motherly advice” and her face turns and we are in the next scene with
Scene 17: “Why did you go to your father before me, hmmm?” He justifies himself by”well a lot of things have happened to hurt him, mother” and he wanted to be sure. Is she jealous? She is pleased at this semi-flirtation, but we get this comment from her: she wants “the very best” for her son, but he looks impatient, tired, rueful but wary too. Then we get the very Trollopian sentiment from her that in marriage, the hors d’oeuvres are the easy part; “she’s not tender enough to make a good joint …” Purpose of scene is to keep her and her and Silverbridge’s relationship in front of us.
Scene 18: At Silverbridge’s club. Dolly brought in in lieu of our narrator who cuts across time and space and provides the kind of irony Dolly does in conversation. Dolly is in DC too — though not as much as here proportionately. From DC, Chapter 7, pp. 45-46 (at least to ideas), Chapter 14, pp. 85-87, Trollope’s point is that party doesn’t matter as much as individual family-and-friend allegiance and Silverbridge doesn’t know that as yet, Ch 16, p. 100. As Dolly says “your governor’s going to be no end cut up about this, Tregear comes in to warn Silverbridge against Tifto and at first Silverbridge resentful, but then sees the truth and then the scene between Tifto and Silverbridge where Silverbridge disdains Tifto to his face in front of the others. Words of that scene closely taken from book (e.g., Ch 14, p. 87: “Now look here Major Tifto, if you’re dissatisfied, you and I can easily separate ourselves”).
The humiliated and therefore angry Tifto
Episode 35: Political Clash.
Scene 19: Duke’s Study. From Duke’s Children, Ch 3, p. 19 (narrator tells us), Chs 7, pp. 44-47, a letter in Ch 14, p. 92. Second linchpin scene for tranposition of this sixth book: Opens with Duke upset that Fothergill has reported Silverbridge needs to have bills for 4000 pounds for training thorough racehorses, to which Silverbridge says that’s all right as he’s giving all that up (!), and then demurs he’s keeping Prime Minister with Tifto; then they get into Silverbridge’s betting as “nothing to speak of,” and then when they turn to Silverbridge’s having gone down once to Silverbridge and going again in a week or two, father starts to admonish he has to gain trust of electorate, he says he has it, and then it comes out Silverbridge tells his father he’s a Tory. Duke’s grave face as he listens to this talk:
His ideology is selfishness and protection of his property and class and we are to see he’s hardly thought this out at all; his expressions are banal and through cliches. He refers his father to what Tregear says. The Duke is appalled partly because it’s a question of heritage (irony here) but also his son shows no depths, no real thought and no understanding of the broader issues or any idea he should go into them. Son realizes how hurt his father is:
But nonetheless, he shrugs it off and deals with it by saying with how he’s not smart and everyone says Tories are the party of the stupid so he belongs there. A complex moment catching real psychology of conflict between two such people.
And then Silverbridge insists “I’m jolly hard put to get there as it is,” away to play cricket; 21 other fellows to consider.
Scene 20: Cricket field. Wholly invented scenes but dialogues and ideas taken from party and water scenes in book. In book, Silverbridge first meets Isobel, DC, Ch 28, pp. 176-79.
We are with audience members watching, and then a familiar person in yellow suit walks on, so we are with Dolly once again. He is there at so many transitions. He walks over to Lady Mabel and Miss Casse in lovely shades of pastoral green; back to pastoral world of opening.
Lady Mabel given disillusioned lines with allusion to Tennyson: “I quite like cricketeers. They look so wholesome all dressed up in white, clothed in white samite,” to which Dolly responds ironically, “Mystical. Wonderful.” Dolly says suddenly of Silverbridge that he’s worried, to which Mabel (not sympathetic we feel) “What has his lordship to worry about? Who has bet?” “Well, there is myself,” “So I had supposed.” Gerald brought in as perhaps coming if he can escape Dons. The “oddity” friend, Tifto, brought in and Longstaffe makes a cattylike remark (Lady Mabel’s and the duchess might not have hit it off): “Inherits it from his dear mother I dare say.”
They look over and watch the first meeting of Silverbridge and Isobel (Lynn Frederick), and camera shifts to them, and we are close up and watch and listen.
He says he’s “quite worn out” with worrying over all those who’ve bet on his horse, lightly said but we are to feel he partly means it. She’s glad he “feels” his “responsibilities, even though the matter be so trival” (she laughs). But it’s not. He invites her to Derby too. She will go to see, not to risk her money.
Then we (with Boncassen family, Jerry Stovin and Eileen Erskine as Mr and Mrs) watch Silverbridge play cricket — emphasis on his youth, innocence, beauty. The blue sky, her eagerness from afar; montage-lie shots give us sense of afternoon wearing away.
A final dialogue of Silverbridge and Isabel. In book Tregear was there and Mabel is bitter and ill-natured in comments; here she is alone with Miss Cass and says she’s “been a fool” and has lost him, and Miss Cass says “if he was in earnest,” he will come again. This is from DC, Chapter 20,pp 129-30. In the book we are told Silverbridge “went forth to ask three more times” and was put off (Chapter 31, p. 194) three more times (to make us sympathetic to him, but in series he never asks again, and part ends on the desolate face of Mabel who does not speak of love for Silverbridge or her desire to marry him, but her desire to be Duchess of Omnium.
Lady Mabel has lost him
For information on Sudeley Castle, see comments.
Next: some commentary on this part and then onto 12:25
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