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Posts Tagged ‘Jeremy Irons’

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Maggie Smith between scenes

Dear friends and readers,

I somehow suspect my phrase of praise for Rebecca Eaton and Patricia Mulcahy’s Making Masterpiece that it fulfills the once famous goals of Lord Reith or the BBC to “educate, inform, entertain” might make her uncomfortable: its connotations have become stuffy, elite, even dull; but in fact her book covering a history of PBS’s most famous and long-running Sunday night prime quality (the term now used) serial dramas from the era of the powerful and fine film adaptations, original dramatizations, and multi-episode serial dramas from just before the 1967 The Forsyte Saga up to the 2010-14 Downton Abbey does just that. We learn a lot about the commercial, financial, filming, roles different people play, the TV channels who air the shows, Eaton is unashamedly working for quality in her purchases and commissions and is surprisingly candid.

Along the way she gives satisfyingly step-by-step believable accounts of some well-known to lost forever cult and individual favorites (some never got beyond the arduous planning and early deals) and she lets drops phrases that characterize swiftly how this or that aspect of this complicated art is viewed by its practitioners: such as the eponymous book or novelist-memoirist’s vision is “the underlying material” for the films. While Eaton’s explanations for why the program has held on for so long (they are “family stories, sagas, about love, betrayal, money, infatuation, illness, family deception &c&c) are wholly unsubtle and could be said of poor programming, and she shows that she reflects the commonalty of viewers; nonetheless, now and again for this or that specific series, she also shows she understood very well a political vision, how it fit into a contemporary sociological moment. She lets us know how some of the corporate funding after the mid-1980s when it seemed all but Mobil and the oil companies acted on a new realization that corporations did not need to appear civic-minded or anything but ruthless, and that when their agents discoveed that Eaton would not re-shape a program to fit an ideology (standing firm, sometimes almost alone — she tells instances and names names) she was in continual danger of being fired.

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Rebecca Eaton with Russell Baker, the host for the show after Alistair Cooke retired — they are on the set for the introductions in the 1990s — note the fire in the hearth, comfortable easy-chair …. library look)

It is also an autobiography, a seeming Horatio Alger paradigm, écriture-femme style. It’s cyclical. She opens with a photo of her mother, Katherine Emery Eaton, who she presents as a successful serious actress and “glamorous movie star” who gave up her career to stay at home as a mother and wife: its in an old (built in 1800) house, her home for many years in Kennebunkport (labryinthine, spooky), which she cherishes, whose image and memories were part of her core impulse to work for and support Masterpiece Theater, but which she tells us on the first page no longer contain her parents, daughter or husband. She closes on her present apartment in Cambridge, Mass, a divorced woman whose daughter she reminds us was named after her grandmother and is now in theater and close to her. This private story of a husband who adjusted his career to bring up, be more at home with the one daughter (someone had to), and her distant relationship with that daughter until the girl grew up is woven in for about 2/3s of the way.

I say seeming because the story is also a justification, an explanation for why nowadays there are so fewer multi-episode (3 is become common) expensively produced carefully meditated productions from literary masterpieces. She is telling us how she did the best she could, how the recent spread of violent thrillers, cynical reactionary adaptations of contemporary novels (something in the vein of Breaking Bad, British style), seems at times to take over the time slot; her lot is fighting a continually uphill struggle where she lurches from acquiring, purchasing BBC and British productions, to producing them with the BBC and from the 1980s alonside or in competition with increasingly tough competition, in the UK, the ITV (Granada) channels, London Weekend, and in the US, cable, A&E, HBO, new technologies which allow viewers to curate and watch programs according to their own schedule (using DVDs, streaming, Netflix). It’s told in a peculiar way. A single person (named and the boss who wanted to get rid of our heroine) theatens a wasteland. Each curve ball or crisis is averted by the sudden unexpectedly widely popular good quality, subtle, intelligent adaptation. So the book reads like a series of rescues. She is not so much the rescuer as the person on the spot when circumstances come together so that a product (most often only a mini-series can provide the amount of ballast needed) is on offer which rescues them.

According to Eaton, Masterpiece theater as “the home for classy drama” (Alistair Cookie’s phrase)

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began when the first The Forsyte Saga developed a visible passionate following (fanbases made themselves felt before the Internet too), and attracted a man from Mobil, Herbert Schmertz (who loved dramas set before the 20th century); at the time Mobil was competing with other oil corporations in the 1970s who thought that they need to be seen as civic-minded (no more). The result: a stream of progressive superb mini-series from the 70s,enough of which were as avidly watched (Poldark, The Pallisers) until well into the later 1980s (The Jewel in the Crown). Eaton does not say this explicitly, but the re-creation of Poldark in terms similar to the 1970s is a bid to create a new and bring along the old fanbase for the Winston Graham historical novels (due Spring 2015); so too the filmically innovative Death Comes to Pemberley just before it (fall 2014) is a carefully calibrated appeal to the changed expanded Jane Austen audience

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A new Demelza who looks like some of the 1960s illustrations from the Bodley Head Poldark edition — Eleanor Tomlinson is also the new Georgiana, sister of

A genuinely tried Darcy and Elizabeth:

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The film does interesting things with Darcy, makes his character more understandable, Elizabeth’s more mature, and as to film: voice-over entangling with shot-reverse shot, scene juxtaposition

The later 1980s, the Thatcher years were the first set back with destructive re-organizations and competitive contracts of packaged dramas at British TV; an occasional return to the old model using new film techniques taken from commercial theater (the 1991 Clarissa) did not seem to help, until the new “savior” appeared: Middlemarch and the art of Andrew Davies.

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I still find it painful to watch the failure of Lydgate (Douglas Hodge) unaware how another’s supposed weak view of the world, Rosamund’s (Treveyn McDowell) can wreck dreams no one else can appreciate

I am aware that there are sheaf of essays on the filmic Middlemarch, that it was admired and is still loved — its exquisite historical feel, a breathe of wide humanity, great acting, relevance (the failed career of Lydgate). Eaton recounts losses: how could she have been so stupid as to let go of Davies’s Pride and Prejudice to A&E. It was then she did bow to corporate pressure: a one-time quickie Poldark denuded of all politics will stand for one resulting flop.

But amid these “dark days” she did not forget her job — she attempted to bring into Masterpiece adaptations of good American books. Maybe that was what was needed. If American producers and funders could not begin to understand a British Cornish regional novel, this they might get. She had successes but there are more sad stories, of fine projects that never got off the ground amid a protracted process: The Glass Menagerie with Meryl Streep didn’t happen. She wanted to call her dream The American Collection. Those who helped included Paul Newman’s wife, Joanne Woodward, and they did Our Town for which Paul Newman earned an Emmy. About the size of what she could achieve was Mark and Livy, the story of Mark Twain and his wife. It seems that Anglophilia is the fuel of Masterpiece and Americans don’t value their own great books. At one point she was told “not to be ridiculous.”

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Catherine (Felicity Jones) and Henry Tilner (J.J.Feilds) approach Northanger Abbey

Then another fortuitious rescue occurred. Most people seem unaware that the evolving Jane Austen canon came to the rescue again. Since they were done on the cheap, each only 108 minutes at most (depending on where you watched them, it could be as little as 83 minutes) the 2007-8 Mansfield Park (not noticed for Wadey’s take in which the men are ritually humiliated instead of the women), Persuasion (daringly shown to be the trauma of loss it is), and Northanger Abbey (a delightful Davies product) have not been paid serious attention to by film studies people. But these one-shot Austen films were, according to Eaton, central in reviving film adaptations of classic books subtly and originally done again. The three were great draws. By that time she had gotten the rights to Davies’ 1995 P&P so they were accompanied by this P&P and Davies 1996 Emma. She is a great friend of Davies. The next year ahe was able to execute produce Davies’s Sense and Sensibility (with Anne Pivcevic, a long time associate of his), and Gwyneth Hughes’s Miss Austen Regrets. And she used her technique of purchase and cooperative funding to make a 4 part mini-series once again: the Australian Lost in Austen, better liked than people have been willing to admit.

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Michael Grambon, Judi Dench and Lisa Dillon as Mr Holbrook, Matty Jenkyns, and Mary Smith

I was surprised by her then singling out Cranford Chronicles, to which she also attributes the resurgence of whatever is left of the older Masterpiece theater film adaptation and serious domestic drama impulse. The chapter on Cranford Chronicles is the richest of the book. We go from first idea and objections: whoever heard of Elizabeth Gaskell, much less Lady Ludlow? (Cranford was dropped as a school text in the US at the beginning of the 20th century.) Constant trips, lunches, deals sealed with a famous actress on board (Judi Dench), then unsealed, then lost from view, then picked up again, the whole process of acquiring screenplay writer, of writing with her, the sets, how dissatisfied people are with the first rushes, and how they try again and finally have a winner.

When at the close of the book she talks of Downton Abbey trying to explain its draw she identifies what I’ll call a communitarian ideal (she’d never use that phrase) — it’s this sense of loving socially conscientious community where most of the characters in Downton are well-meaning or basically good, with the exception of over-the-top monsters (Vera Bates) or one violent rapist who we know would do it again, no one is ejected, everyone treated with dignity and concern. Well this is the great appeal of Cranford Chronicles too — and Heidi Thomas does one better by allying the stories with progressive ideals. Eaton though singles Cranford out because not just its wide audience (after all Davies had trumped with a new Little Dorrit, Bleak House, a deeply moving Dr Zhivago rivaling and rewriting Pasternak’s novel against David Lean’s reading) but because she does see how it speaks to our times, fairy tale fashion. It must be admitted in this book she spends little time worrying whether a given mini-series reflects its era or particular author — perhaps she leaves that to screenplay writer, producer and director. I note the same film-makers recur for movies made from the same author (e.g. Louis Marks for Dickens). For her warm-hearted Cranford led to warm-hearted Downton.

Her book is meant to function today, 2014 and that too is why two chapters on Downton Abbey are devoted heavily to Downton Abbey, its lead-in, production, aftermath. She talks about why she thinks the program became a sociological event, and now an adjective: it appeared at the right time that year (before the new Upstairs/Downstairs which she says was found to be too dark, too pessimimistic, to much a mirror of our era); the house matters (as did Castle Howard for Brideshead). I’ve just written a paper on Andrew Davies’s Trollope adaptations as part of an anthology on British serial drama and found it distorting to see its purview (it too begins with The Forstye Saga and ends on DA) skewed by too many references to this program. The book is typical; I’ve seen this over-emphasis repeatedly. After all filmically it’s utterly conventional; if it is liberal in its attitudes towards sexuality and the human topics it will broach, it keeps the old decorum up. Its political outlook is one which looks upon the French Revolution as unfortunate, providing only an amelioration; now if only the Granthams had lived in France during the famine. They’d have provided jobs and meals. Nowhere does Fellowes show us that such a house was a power-house, a linch-pin in repressive controlling economic and political arrangements from the which local magistrates and MPs emerged to conscript soldiers and sailors. Everyone who knows anything about country houses knows this.

She does explain why the fuss. The outrageous ratings — it easily beat out Breaking Bad and Madman the first year in the Emmy prize race. It’s a selling card when you want to pitch a new fine series. And to give credit where credit it is, it is high quality; the characters are (as Eaton would no doubt tell us) compelling, psychologically complex; no expense is spared, the actors superb. It is great soap opera and as a woman defending women’s art, I too cry it up (with all the reservations above) as using brilliantly what this individual form in structure can do. She describes the series as a community — that’s soap opera. Mrs Hughes (Phyllis Logan) rescues Mr Carson’s Jim Carter) old time colleague form the music hall from the local workhouse is a single anecdote, but it gathers all its strength by how its embedded in four seasons of memories about these characters. She does not mention that one of its strengths is it is not limited by a nineteenth-century text censored by Mudie’s Library. We can see how a rape plays out.

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Did Lady Rosamund (Samantha Bond) have a baby out of wedlock and give it up before she married Painswick — soap opera communities license us to look beyond what we can see and hear, to a past to be unearthed

How does an executive producer spend her days. Ceaseless socializing, phone calls, pitches, deciding. She does tell much of this throughout the book and in the chapter on Cranford, but she characterizes her job in another chapter again. She’s in on the film editing, how long the film can be, how its final scene plays. Along the way we learn of how she finally found some stable funding. She garnered as a well-heeled contributor Viking Cruises because a survey she did showed a surprising percentage of people who take cruises to Europe also watch Masterpiece Theater loyally. So she pitched this customer favorite to the running the cruises. She created Masterpiece Trust where wealthy people contribute and get to be named and also introduce the program. Perhaps the unashamed commercials for Ralph Lauren clothes (all expensive artifice) might jar more than the old more discreet pitches for oil and gas companies (but we should remember when we shudder at the anorexic women that they are not encouraging others to drop bombs to ensure Lauren’s profit). One of my books on women’s films has a whole section on how even costume dramas — those set say in the 18th century at any rate and after influence women’s wear. In the 1970s many of the costumes were Laura Ashley like creations — somewhere half between the 18th century and elegant clothes in the 1970s. I note that a certain kind of shawl is now popular since it became omnipresent in the costume dramas of the 2000s Obviously the Bette Davis, Joan Crawford and other stars influenced people — remember Annie Hall, the Annie Hall style … This has long been known and at the close of films nowadays you will see little icons for fashion designers and makers of clothes who the costume designer worked with. So Eaton asked herself who has their product been an advertiser for …

A smaller strand of the book is her relationship with the people who do Mystery! and how and when decisions were made to bring Mystery! material over to Masterpiece. Sometimes it seems as if Masterpiece gets the best of Mystery! they took Prime Suspect (Helen Mirren), and now the new Sherlock (Bernard Cumberbatch). Sometimes a book that one might expect to be on Masterpiece turns up on Mystery!. We are not told why all the time.

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With Diana Rigg on the set of The Heat of the Day (Elizabeth Bowen’s masterpiece on a Mystery! set — but then she was hostess for Mystery! for a while)

The book ends on what she called “the Downton effect” and returns to her personal motivation, satisfactions, and present. It does sound a bit lonely in that apartment. She likes to think of this program she’s served for so many years as she does her life, intertwined memories. The book has flaws; it does not begin to tell all. A full history would be a couple of thick volumes. What has made her the success she is, her rough-and-ready way of seeing things broadly, as some common denominator of intelligent person might, her upbeatness still don’t get too much in the way of sufficient candor. She describes behavior on the sets as no love-fest, and in the various stories of programs that never made it it’s often someone’s ego or a demand for a higher salary that got in the way. She says spontaneous group scenes for photographs are rare. The book never drips; it moves on and has a hardness. It’s apparent she’s not retiring yet. She won me over at any rate. The originating impulse was to do all her mother had not been able to do — she sets up the black-and-white photo near her bed on its last page.

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She gives credit to where it’s due: Jean Marsh and Eileen Atkins’s conception of having downstairs get more than equal time to upstairs after watching The Forsyte Saga.

Ellen

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Sebastian (Anthony Andrews in his greatest role, how I loved and bonded with him) and Charles (Jeremy Irons) at the hospital in Morocco Their first early love like mine and Jim’s

Dear friends and readers,

Although I’ve written about this stunningly daring and powerful mini-series before (Mesmerized, still on Brideshead), I feel I should say something of it here as this blog as turned into one mostly about movies and the books these derive from. How can I not write of one of the greatest of film adaptations here too.

Late last week and most of this I fell once more under the spell of Jeremy Irons’s haunting voice-over and the yearning swelling-out music of Brideshead Revisited. It transcends the twisted self-destructiveness of its Catholic agenda (embodied in Claire Bloom’s Lady Marchmain’s rigorous cruelties) or (better put) the film-makers use the Catholic theme as part of a projection of feelings, thoughts, experiences, beauty in the world against contemporary meaningless, one of the escapes because the way the house once was when it was taken care it no longer is — although it carries on used in in new ways. In our contemporary technologically efficient militarized world it’s a barracks (or as in Downton a hospital for those physically maimed and dying). It is about death, many deaths, what is terribly destructive, how joy, hope, resolve, belief dies.

The center Jim said was “contra mundum.” Against the worldishness of world captured wildly parodically in Rex Mottram (Charles Keating playing as inimitably as everyone else). Rex is the only person we see turn the house into what it was meant to be earlier: a power house, not a place for selfless employment of others (as Downton Abbey has it), but a place to control, repress, shape, get what the owners want out of life. Meanwhile the ubiquitous hard-working Wilcox (Roger Milner) keeps the place running (a curious thing I noticed there are hardly any woman servants). Celia (Jane Ascher) is awful because she is the perfect wife for a Rex; that’s how she lives, performances which others respond to — Charles’s father pretends to think how happy his son is with Celia; John Gielgud plays the part brilliantly; he uses pretense to keep others away. (Jim read Gielgud’s letters.) Sebastian cannot enter into what’s called life: he loathes all the choices put before him; Julia, Rex discovers, is no good at it (“Rex doesn’t see the point of me”); Bridey (Simon Jones) is so rich and self-involved he never recognizes it; Cordelia (Phoebe Nicholls) is a plain version of Julia. Nanny Hawkins (Mona Washbourne) is all child-like retreat, but then that’s no life either. Charles opts for painting pictures that are utterly un-modern; he loathes modern schools of painting as so much bosh. He is hired because his pictures flatter and he does not need that much money anyway, having clearly been born to unearned income. He can play the game, just enough. Anton (Nikolas Grace) is no better at the manipulations and performances of life that achieve admiration and place (he ends up in bars taken advantage of) and his denigration of Charles’s paintings is jealousy, as Charles puts it, so much abuse. Boy Mulcaster (Jeremy Sinden) is a simply a boor, crashes through ignorantly.

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Anton abusing Charles

The greatness and power of the film is not verbal though or even its explicit themes: it resides in its wholistic ability through words, pictures, music, the actors face and gestures and way of being to convey the emotional pain of existence like nothing I’ve ever seen before or since. And the reasons for this emotional pain. The loneliness and puzzle of someone with a depth of feeling and not knowing what to do with it, finding it twisted, not understanding how these performances can be life — not realizing that what he or she desires or seeks reciprocation for — sheer joy and play in existence together — is not at all what the average person wants. At moments in Vanya on 2nd Street Wallace Shawm as Uncle Vanya comes up to this kind of deep ache of despair, but one character does not an overwhelming experience make.

And the truth is this is one of the central or informing characteristics of the best mini-series costume dramas — to convey this pain — those weak in it remain weak; those without the necessary words cannot soar. (Downton Abbye falls down here — the characters’ anguish is just not held long and allowed to evolve. Except when it’s from a death, we don’t begin to see where the grief comes from. We do in Gosford Park, because Altman was there.) The heights of Brideshead Revisited are its electrifying nadirs as well as visions — the great virtuoso pieces, Andrews as Sebastian catastrophically drunk, Diana Quick as Julia devouring herself, eating herself up over her exploitation (of her, by her) and betrayal, Phoebe Nicholls as Cordelia about Sebastian, Lawrence Olivier as Lord Marchmain dying of a long word, his great soliloquy about the land and the building — and Irons looking on all the while. An electric current seems to run through the movie and into my body and through my veins until I stretch out and twist as the music plays on.

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The house is photographed mostly quietly — this corridor moment is typical — though there are the sudden zoom shots and angles

How Jim and I loved it that first year it played, trumpets heralding 1981 — Monday nights, we’d sit with our suppers in the living room to see it together. It was not a Masterpiece Theatre production, but something from Granada TV playing on PBS. He liked Waugh, and said BR was an unusual book for Waugh — openly autobiographical in the sense that Waugh became a convert to Catholicism and had trouble re-marrying because of this. Waugh was probably bisexual and here showed it openly. Most of his books were guarded and saturninely satiric at their best, bitter. And during that year Jim bought Waugh’s novels, Vile Bodies and A Handful of Dust, The Loved One, Scoop, novels from The Sword of Honor, Men at Arms, all of which he read, then a very fat diary, which he read quite through too. I read Vile Bodies, of which I remember nothing but that I read it, A Handful of Dust, whose famous excruciating close of a hero forever condemned to read Dickens aloud to a mad hermit stays in the mind; The Loved One, a hilarious send-up of absurdly overdone American funerals, all California pious hypocrisy: I was naive enough to think when I read it no one could ever use the term “loved ones” again. Jim thought Scoop bitterly satirical on journalists, brilliant.

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Ryder cramming because unlike the Flytes he feels he must have some sort of degree

My DVD set does not have a feature (none was done at the time) but a recent pamphlet. You learn the original screenplay by John Mortimer was for a 6 hour mini-series. There were delays and a young director named Charles Sturridge was taken on, and over course of a long-time filming the shooting script grew. What Sturridge did was defy the tabooes against voice-over and he went thorough Brideshead Revisited itself and with unerring rightness chose just those plangent melancholy words from Rider’s narration that captured the book’s core melancholy, omitting all that was “dead” in comparison and knitted it together the over-voice narration of Irons. Twenty weeks for filming. The result was an 11 episode mini-series with the first episode 2 hours and the last an hour and a half. I skim-read the book this week once again and thinking about the description of Mortimer’s original script I realize why the movie is credited to Sturridge

They filmed in Castle Howard (a central presence, chief character in the film), in Venice, and some islands in the Mediterranean.

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Driving up that first day — Sebastian driving

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Charles as Innocent: his first word in response: “Golly”

My darling (Jim) never made it to Venice: he loved Antony Hecht’s Venetian Vespers: we read it aloud to one another at another time, the 1980s in Alexandria gotten from a used bookshop, of which there were once many.

The music is by Geoffrey Burgon. Jim would have said the following YouTube is kitsch, but it has the evocative music in minor key and has as drawings centrally beloved (Sebastian especially) and savagely ironic (like the poor turtle with jewels sewn into its back) moments:

The film editor was Anthony Ham. Costume design Jane Robinson. I did notice that Diana Quick and a few of her more conservative yet spectacular outfits, her body type, the clothes’ style resemble Michelle Dockery and hers.

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With Julia while Rex reigns in Brideshead, it is contra mundum still

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If I bonded with Sebastian then (and Stephane Audran as Cara when she shook her head saying no she didn’t want this place), I do with Ryder now:

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A final shot of Ryder as he looks up at the house one last time

What I too have left are memories, and I must grow strong by possessing the past within me and staying true to it … never will I come alive as I was during the decades with him, though I do believe he didn’t change me much. Deeper and deeper. Perhaps it’s not healthy for me to watch this mini-series, but rising from it I am aware that wherever I go I take Jim with me. If I were to go to New York City everywhere I went would be memories of even blissful times; if I go to England, his ghost will be in my mind wherever I go: if it’s where we were I’ll remember, if it’s where we didn’t get to as a couple, I’ll mourn his having missed it. He is with me, in me, all around me in my mind. One need not self-destruct because he no longer exists — all he left exists around me, and I remember him and us, what we were.

First

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The very first and last shots of the house in the film ….

Ellen

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Duchess (Susan Hampshire), having painfully made her way to her mirror, looks at old photos. Archetypal motif for women in later life, last seen by me in Bergman’s Saraband

Dear Friends and readers,

Two days ago I resumed my journey through the 26 part 1974 BBC Palliser series, with a summary, commentary and transcripts from the first half of 12:25: The Duchess’s dying begins. How she is the heroine of the series as a whole.

We saw how The Prime Minister transitions in 12:24 to The Duke’s Children. Then central to these last two parts, 12:25 and 12:26 is the family life of the Pallisers, and especially the relationship of the two parents to their adult children. Those modern films which treat relationships between generations tend to be comic and emphasize younger children; it is brave and fruitful for the viewer for the film-makers to have stayed true to Trollope’s concern with how the adult fates of their children deeply affect their parents’ sense of their own identity and success in life.

Tonight I go on to the second half of the hour where the Duchess appears more briefly, and Mary’s story is held off until 12:26. Here the clashes between Silverbridge and the Duke dominate. We had just reviewed Silverbridge’s strong if courteous rejection of Lady Mabel Grex, and reached the part’s climactic scenes leading up to Derby Run (Episode 38).

Scene 10. The Club, The Duke’s Children, Ch 17, pp. 105-112 (some details picked up from this earlier scene of egging Silverbridge on to bed), Ch 43, pp. 276-79 (Penguin edition by Dinah Birch).


Tifto (John Ringham) on table, proposing toasts, angle of vision Silverbridge’s (Anthony Andrews) head; we see Tregear (Jeremy Irons) nearby as ever; and Dolly Longstaffe (George Pickering). The image remembers one by Millais from Orley Farm where a sleazy salesman mounts a table.

A famous hinge-point scene from the book: Tifto needles Silverbridge into betting not just (the film amounts are less) 200 but 40,000 pounds by egging him about his desire to please his straight-laced father. Tregear (in the film sensible, caring) tries to stop it. Silverbridge had promised his father to stop betting altogether. The actor playing Tifto’s face an enigma, mean and aggressive:

yet astounded at the sum and suddenly worried. Those who’ve read the novel (and film-adaptations take into account such viewers too) know Tifto’s planning to fix this race but had not counted on such a big sum; it’s too big; it’ll make a splash.

The egging on of Silverbridge about his attachment to his father is not in original scene but makes much sense in terms of this hour. Again Frank featured in the scene as he is not in the book. Dolly throws his champagne glass into the hearth at end.


Playing tough guys

Scene 11: at the stable, we see Tifto in shed with horse, to him Silverbridge and Isabel. Trollope is much harder on Silverbridge and more understanding of Tifto (throughout this is so); see The Duke’s Children, Ch 43, pp. 278-79): Silverbridge snubs Tifto when he comes to his room in the morning and it’s after that Tifto lames the horse. This omitted from film.

Here Silverbridge and Isabel come to stall the next morning where they find Tifto. We hear him murmuring to horse. Tifto not that respectful to a girl without a title, so we are reminded of the effect her lack of rank might have on common minds.

Scene 12: The expensive, luxuriously equipped tent, complete with gourmet cakes and champagne. From DC, Ch 44, p 280, Ch 44, p. 282-4, Gerald being late back belongs to earlier incident, DC, Ch 18, pp. 110-14. So this is basically wholly invented pair of scenes because in original much is narrated, but what is dramatized both times is Silverbridge’s encounter with his father afterwards. The film-makers were delightfully inventive over the luxuries, Frank and Dolly and Gerald and again Frank worrying over Gerald champagne, carving delicacies in a cake mound:


Dolly, Frank Tregear, Gerald (Michael Cochrane) to them

Great scene from which the still of Dolly and Frank eating cake is circulated:
All at the races; Gerard excited naive young man. Such a great sum and they are intent about it. Then in comes
Silverbridge with flat distressed face. PM can’t even run; he was hobbled. A nail produced. Silverbridge is supposed to be admirable in his saying, well, let’s go see the race and then have our dinner.

This, though, is not the only reading: in the film at the club a little later Tregear tells Dolly that Silverbridge was shamed into this; Dolly replies he was drinking hard.

Scene 13: Back to the club with stuffed familiar bear, from DC, Ch 17, pp. 110-112, Ch 44, pp. 283-84 (matter about nail as narrated). Frank added again shown trying to help a very drunk and silly Gerald make it, again he’s sober, serious earnest young man, responsible. Dolly comes in with information about Tifto and nail. Silverbridge does gather Gerald’s things and push him off with Frank; the re-entry of Gerald with story of lame cab horse is an overdone absurdity (situation comedy stuff).

Much of this scene too is wholly original or semi-original, new and is superb. Silverbridge is more distressed about his brother than the money and the scene dissolves with an overvoice from the Duke as the Duke says to Silverbridge: “What do you know about this?” It’s the
letter from Cambridge sending Gerard down permanently.

Episode 39: Bad News. Scene 14: Duke’s study, Carlton terrace.

I’ve transcribed this crucial scene:

Duke confronting Silverbridge with letter sending Gerald down, DC, Ch 18, pp. 114-15 (Silverbridge tries to get them to take brother back), Ch 18, pp. 115-166 (scene with father over Gerland), Ch 45, pp. 289-93 (scene with father over Derby losses), all combined

1 Establishment shot: Duke by mantelpiece with document — a letter

Duke: “What do you know about this?”
Silverbridge takes letter with intense strain on his face; soft voice: “Gerald went up to see the Derby, sir, and he missed the evening train.”
Duke: “The college tutor tells me here all undergraduates were expressly ordered not to go to these races. Not one [exemption?] was issued for that day.”
Silverbridge: “I s’pose not sir.”
Duke: “So your brother has been sent down, sir, altogether, and so has he profited from your example [bitter grief in his voice] (turns impatiently from son, with a noise) … now did you persuade him to go to Epsom, Sir?”
Silverbridge (turning to the father): “I did not discourage him, sir.”
Duke: “Though you knew the orders that had been given?”
Silverbridge: “Well I thought that there would be no risk, sir. If he could get back the same night. [Pause]. I don’t s’pose it does any good my saying this to you, sir: I never was so sorry for anything in my life … I feel as if I could go and hang myself, sir” (his head way down as bowed in distress).
Duke (grim-faced frontal view): “That’s absurd and unmanly. Oh you’d better go, sir, I suppose you’ll want to be at your racing again with your Major Tifto.”
Silverbridge: “No, father, I told you I’d give all that up after the Derby and so I shall.”
Duke: “Oh yes yes I apologize. No reason to doubt you’d keep your promise.”
Silverbridge: “There is one promise I’ve not kept, sir.”
Duke (an old man sound): “Yeah?”
Silverbridge: “Oh your grace, I’ve lost a huge sum of money over the Derby (tears in his voice, never crying), more than 40,000 pounds.”
Duke (close up to his face as it registers). He mutters something. (Turns his face away and sits): “My children will drive me to the grave.”
Silverbridge (trying to reason, very high pitched voice): “I was tricked for it, sir, I think … well, I was called a coward for betting low … sir, he should have won … We could have have won … I know … (voice breaking, while sitting down next to father, he begins to rock) …

Duke: “Could have? should have? you know it is known to all men that all [this?] pursuit is governed by the flimsiest of chances. And on such a chance (turns) you have wagered 40,000 pounds.”
Silverbridge (rising from chair): “There is talk of foul play, sir.”
Duke: “Is there?”
Silverbridge: “I only said that so you may think me a little less to blame. There is no proof and I cannot haggle with men to whom I owe whom for all I can tell are honest within their code … either the money must be paid paid or my honor destroyed.”
Duke: “And if yours, sir, then mine. Oh, the thing is quite clear, the money must be paid. Uh, I shall have Mr Fothergill pay it at once.”

Duke goes over to his desk, sits down and writes the check (or letter) and Silverbrige begins to pace a little towards the door, walks around the chair.

Silverbridge: “What shall I say, sir? what would you have me do for you?”
Duke: “Well, you’re done with racing … are you? … and Major Tifto.”
Silverbridge; “Indeed indeed I have, sir.”
Duke: “If you are cured of the evil, the money is nothing.”
Silverbridge (face widening with gratitude and respect): “Oh, sir.”

Duke sprinkles sand across document, folds it, stands up. “Now, you take that note to Mr Fothergill and you tell him the details that he must know. From this moment on, let us never speak another word about it.” (Grim determined face on Duke, walks slightly away).

Silverbridge: “Sir, Gerald, sir, he’ll be horribly cut up for you as well as himself [Silverbridge knows Gerald would not be cut up for himself] … You won’t be too hard on him when he comes to see you?”
Duke: “I am in no mood to cut the fatted calf for Gerald, sir, but I will try to behave towards him in the same spirit that has prompted you to plead for him.”

Silverbridge silent, walks about a bit, relieved tone: “I do not know how to thank you, sir” (smiling with face now softened with love as well as respect): “You’re such a brick. Standing to a fella after a rotten business like this.”
Duke: “A father should always stand to a fella as you put it, sir. A fellow should always stand to his father [they stand facing each other]. Well, there might be a way in which you could thank me.”
Silverbridge: “Yes, father.”
Duke: “You remember our conversation the other day about … well … about Lady Mabel Grex?”
Silverbridge (slight blench): “Oh, I remember, sir.”
Duke: “Ummm. Well I thought a lot about it how much I wish to see you settled, and how deeply I could love Lady Mabel Grex as my daughter.”

[In fact this dialogue could and would not have taken place with the Duchess still alive, but it passes muster in the way deviations from characters do for the sake of plots in novels.]

Silverbridge looks down.

Duke: “Now if anything were to happen, you would … uh … you would let me know?”
Silverbridge (quiet tone): “Yes, of course, sir.”

Duke’s face shaking slightly, the result of the emotions gone through.
Silverbridge presenting smiling front but very firm look on his face. He is growing up well.

This becomes the central scene of this episode. Anthony Andrews is brilliant as strained ashamed defensive (suddenly excitedly defending himself) son and Latham just perfect as the Duke. Indeed, he must have been the Duke in his mind by this time. Lines like, Duke: “Did you persuade him to go,” Silverbridge [telling truth] “I did not discourage him.” Duke did you know about rules and Silverbridge admitting he thought he could get his brother back in time. Just right for types.

Silverbridge saying with intensity of feeling that he has never felt so bad about anything in his life and would like to go hang himself, receiving hard words instead “That is absurd and unmanly.” Just right for era.

In the year 1995 Austen’s Darcy was made sympathetic by turning him
into an openly emotional vulnerable man; the Duke of Raven’s series would not understand this or like it. But note that Silverbridge is this type, so he anticipates the recent male of sensibility.

And then in a hoarse voice, “I suppose you will go betting with Tifto again.” And now Silverbridge must tell about bet. 40,000. The camera close up are startling and stunning. The duke says: “My children will drive me to the grave.” That’s in Trollope but it’s also after Mary has insisted she loves Tregear and after of course the Duchess’s death.

It’s then that Raven’s Silverbridge gets excited: “I was tricked into, Sir, I was called a coward for betting low. Oh, sir, he should have won [and a stream of words]; we are seein ghim from Duke’s eye. Silverbridge: “There is talk of foul play, Sir” Duke: “Is there?” But if Silverbridge means they should litigate, he cannot “haggle” especially as Silverbridge says his honor at stake so both their honors and the Duke sits down and writes a check for this enormous amount with a note to Fothergill (still in wings after all these years), saying if this ends “this evil” (the betting) the money is nothing

They begin to come closer together as Silverbridge is so grateful (you are a “brick” sir).

But to my mind when the Duke says “and let there never be another word about it” is the finest moment of all. This is true nobility and generosity of spirit.

It gives Silverbridge a chance to ask his father to be kind to Gerard who is described as “horribly cut up.”

Moving scene continues with them standing there, and saying things like a fellow should stand should stand by a fellow and a father by a fellow. But again Silverbridge beginning to turn into a boy and when father starts to talk of Lady Mabel he evades his father.

The one thing missing in this film and in the novel about Silverbridge’s young manhood before marriage (and maybe afterward too): there should have been open sexual encounters, casual and demeaning in Silverbridge’s life. There is a hint (when he visits the opera singer) in Trollope’s novel, but only the barest hint. Perhaps Davies would have given us a silent shot of this (as he does give us scenes not dramatized in Austen but presented as occurring between chapters).

Yet this is a taboo subject even today (or in 1974) and perhaps the film-makers would not produce sympathy for a culture where Silverbridge was using women. Trollope excises the sex so we will not think it of him; Raven and filmmakers had hints of gay sex while in Venice but have dropped them wholly. The problem is too much sex might be put in for its own sake today and we lose the ethical perspective.

Popular drama has its price.

Scene 15) Matching, Duchess’s Boudoir, she with Duke who has come to tell of her of Silverbridge and Gerald’s misadventure. Wholly invented.

When the Duke leaves, and Mrs Finn takes his place, the Duchess underlines the point of the Duke’s distress: what bothers him is his son should lower himself to try to make money off others, money he has no need of.

It’s includes sequence of her getting up, has a hard time standing, walking, over to mirror, nearly crying as she looks at her photo, and then painfully making her way back to couch:

stopping only to look at some momento (perhaps of Burgo Fitzgerald after all).

Enter Mrs Finn, with “nice soup.” Lines taken from scenes of father and son (“his fine son should have sought to win money that he didn’t really need”); Duchess convinced Mabel doesn’t love Silverbridge, “she’s desperate,” scene ends with her declaring she must pack, children must be “free” “free to choose” and lands on the floor:

A strong contrast to hectic gaiety with which next scene begins.

********************

Episode 40: Romantic Woes

Scene 16: London, vestibule outside Boncassen’s home, Silverbridge enters in elegant evening dress, into dance party, sources: the Dance itself from DC, Ch 31, p. 199; the conflicted nasty crack of Lady Mabel, while dancing with Silverbridge (“ill-natured”), very self-destructive is from DC, Ch 39, pp. 251-52, Ch 54, p 345, where she taunts him with Isabel’s Americanness and her mother. In Trollope’s book Mabel says she must save Silverbridge from marrying down and an American (Ch 40, p 254-55), he walks off at Ch 28, pp. 180-81; for where Dolly makes up to Isabel, see DC, Ch 32, 203-7, Ch 33, pp. 211-12.

It seems to me telling that one of the stills of Silverbridge walking stiffly alongside Mabel is a close imitation of numerous contemporary illustrations (Johnny Eames and Lily Dale is only the best known) where the troubled but dignified hero and heroine walk along parallel side-by-side

They are the pair crowned with the prestigious wedding in Trollope. The one with genuine feeling is Trollope’s Mary’s with Tregear, a breakfast and going away which quietly ends the book.

So, in the film we are at a fancy party given by Boncassens. This is a long scene equivalent to the opening political ones where we move from couple to couple, with Isabel as frivolous bell of the ball, chased by Dolly (nefariously); we see Silverbridge dance with an embittered Lady Mabel, but we are not given any reason to sympathize with her even in the dialogue with Miss Casse while in the Duke’s children she is given long concluding scenes of authentic distress with both Silverbridge and Tregear (see DC, Chs 73, 77).


Putting a brave face on it rather than a gothic alienated one.

For my part I rather liked Trollope’s Isabel for her bright sparkling and I don’t Raven’s preening self-proud chaste young lady, Isabel (Lynn Frederick herself had a chequered career which brings out a hard side of her we feel in the films):


Isabel Boncassen (Lynn Frederick) dancing to “Dixie.”

Trollope may have had his Kate Field in mind; Raven has nothing like this.

When Raven’s Isabel turns Dolly off, I’m probably supposed to admire her; sigh, I just despise him. I don’t admire Silverbridge’s taste (she’s mostly vacuous in the film) and surmise that those who say Trollope left space for another sequel, for another novel (where perhaps this marriage would be rocky) may be right.

And so suddenly to the two brothers comes a messenger; the Duchess is
ill and father says to return to Matching at once. And so we are come to the Duchess’s death and end of the series.

Ellen

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The Duke helping a very sick Duchess (Susan Hampshire) away from the Ruined Priory

Dear Friends and readers,

After a six month-hiatus, I return to the 1974 BBC Palliser series once again to conclude my study of this magnificent film cycle, 1:1-8:17 on the old blog, and 9:18-2:24 thus far on this.

Three films cover Trollope’s The Duke’s Children. 12:24 is deeply elegiac, bringing to a poignant conclusion the Prime Minister’s career as head of government, and his wife’s as a political saloniere or hostess, and after a slow adumbration of the stories of Silverbridge, the son, and Mary, the daughter (Kate Nicholls), developing in powerful earnest these characters and their involvements with other characters (Frank Tregear [Jeremy Irons], as Silverbridge’s friend and Mary’s lover) and Lady Mabel Grex ([Anna Carteret] Silverbridge’s natural mate and ex-lover of Frank).

12:25 is intensely about the relationship of the Duke and Duchess to one another as parents and to both their children (though only she interacts with Mary until the series’s final part); and it begins the duchess’s long-time slow decline (which we saw signs of in 12:24), now into death.

As 12:25 is also given over to concentration on Silverbridge’s slow maturation and his clashes with father so 12:26 concentrates on Mary as the female presence whose happy fate (she decides her own destiny) is presented as compensation for thwarting and infliction of grief and loss on her mother for many of the early parts as she is forcibly separated from a man she loved and who loved her and made to live with her role as obedient (if tenderly loved, and safe) wife to heir of the Omnium estate; Kate Nicholls is the plangent muse of all three of these last films

.
From 12:26, Lady Mary (Kate Nicholls) looking past the ruins to her mother’s grave

Simon Raven told his biographer Michael Barber (The Captain) that Lady Glencora was to him the chief protagonist of the series, and in these two parts hers is the overarching story within which Silverbridge and the Duke’s interactions take place.

I begin with a commentary on this 12:25 and then provide a summary with transcripts of two central scenes and bits from a third. The penultimate episode of the Pallisers centers squarely on the rocky relationship of the Duke of Omnium (by this point brilliantly played by Philip Latham) and his eldest son and heir, Silverbridge (played effectively partly because he so looks the part, Anthony Andrews). Two long scenes between the Duke and the son are the centerpieces of this episode. I transcribe the central long full one in my next blog. Here we shall have the full scene of Duchess’s suddenly visible weakening (the second still above), and a bit her scene with Mary where she shows the intensity of her vicarious longing for her daughter to live the fate she wants to (from which I take this still):


The Duchess turning away to look inwardly as she realizes Mary is seriously attached to Tregear, engaged, and wants to marry him

The differences between these two parts and Trollope’s Duke’s Children must be remembered here. The Raven team have mostly eliminated and reversed Trollope’s The Duke’s Children’s important secondary theme. Trollope’s novel centers on the father’s conflict with his daughter as well as his son: Trollope’s Duke is locked in strong conflict with his daughter, Lady Mary Palliser over her desire to marry Frank Tregear (we get brief but significant glimpses of him in this episode, where he gives Silverbridge good advice and tries to look out for Gerald). This second conflict links up to the second theme of the novel: the Duke’s intense nostalgia melancholy and partial regret and at the same time refusal to acknowledge the maiming of a life done to his wife, the Duchess, by marrying her to a man she (in Trollope’s novels) could never really love truly as she could not understand or sympathize with him and couldn’t resist needling him when he evidenced in little ways the nature that was at deep odds with her own.

In both films the Duchess remains a strong and dominant presence (after her death emphatically), and we are to believe has learned to love the Duke, appreciate his ethical stance and deep kindness, though she still remembers with bitterness and hurt the despair she felt at first (it’s made clear several times this was just “at first” though “at first” seems to have taken an ambiguously longish amount of time). Her real absence in Trollope’s own novel (and lack of reach after death) is part of the problem Trollope’s Duke has, for without her interference (much more ambiguously aimed and motivated in Trollope as it would be in real life), the Duke actually seems unable even to talk to his son or daughter.

In 12:25 the Duke talks to and reaches Silverbridge. On one level, the father-and-son story is yet another sub-story in the roman fleuve structure of the films — which imitates the roman fleuve structure of the novels (and those of Oliphant, Proust, Powell). We have another young gentleman’s entrance into the world, one with a cornucopia of advantages, which are basically responsible for his apparent successes (we may wonder what the future will hold for him): just one of its array of male types. On another the story is one which reinforces submission on behalf of the group (which Silverbridge does), conformity to one’s family as best for everyone including those who fall in.

And now the individual episodes with transcripts. First a brief description of each and then commentary and its source in Trollope’s novel.

12:25, Episode 36: Election Results.

Scene 1) The film opens on the Duchess dressed beautifully (oh what an outfit), walking older and looking old in her face, but setting up an exquisitely pretty tea. Duke comes in to be told that the Boncassens are coming and despite his attempt to retreat to the library he is gotten to stay and meet.

Carlton Terrace, London, Duchess and Collingwood, then Duke. Wholly invented scene of meeting and tea with Mr and Mrs Boncassen and Isabel Jerry Stovin, Eileen Erskine, Lynn Frederick); Silverbridge leaves to go to campaign and be elected; Duke’s Children, Ch 14, pp. 84-85 Silverbridge told he will be elected and to go down (narrated) is source for going off for election; some of feel of early dialogue between Silverbridge and Isabel from DC, Garden party, Ch 28, p 176; bright and sparkling for Trollope.

Scene about how privileged and unaware of their privilege, made uncomfortable, these people are; want to be respected extra and yet don’t want this to be acknowledged; Silverbridge says election not a done deal and yet no opponents, at which he is gleeful and then repeats hypocrisy about why no one is running against him (favored candidate) — Isabel about how he can’t test himself if he has no worthy opponents (and we will find he has none for Isabel’s hand — quite this kind of nuance not in Trollope).


Preparing tea with the faithful aging Collingwood (Maurice Quick)

It’s a scene where differences between American and UK outlooks on class and politics are made clear. Mr Boncassen a scholar like the Duke; although at first she seems dim, Mrs Boncassen acute in the way of the Duchess (about social things, sceptical). Mrs B: “Well, what about people who have “fancy titles and no money, how do they make out?” Duchess; “poorly, Mrs Boncassen, poorly.” The Duchess gets the best lines in the scene. It should be said not all women have this astute social perceptiveness and no information and not all men escape to libraries.

Silverbridge leaves to work at election.

***************

Scenes at Matching:

Scene 2) Matching front room, duke reading and duchess sewing, to them Silverbridge with news of his election, all pride, Duke cannot congratulate because his assumption of Tory party is not based on serious thought and is a betrayal of his life; young man openly irritated and goes to be congratulated by sister; becomes clear the lineage of the family, use of good seat, family loyalty at stake Duchess tells Duke he must pretend to accept it; so much of this and previous scene taking us back to 1:1 where the two were married to set up a dynasty.

When the Duke does not congratulate Silverbridge for the first time he is openly irritated. He leaves abruptly, maybe Mary will congratulate him. Duke was angered at his winning nomination as a conservative. Then Duchess attempts to persuade Duke he must pretend not to care for Silverbridge’s choice is really his attempt to assert his independence and rightly manipulated he will return to the fold.

Scene 3) Matching the room that has served as Duchess’s boudoir, Mary congratulating Silverbridge, the boyish nature of the speech is from DC, Ch 14, pp. 91-92; mother beams and says father recovering from shock, put yourself in his way and he’ll have something kinder to say, boy heads out.

Now the important scene with Mary: Now a scene with Mary, presented as mother worry (house keeps boy out of mischief), Gerald okay at Cambridge, and what about Mary. An invented scene. Mary tells of the Priory ruins scene from 12:24, Episode 33 (Scene 11); Duchess’s deep identification, does Silverbridge know and Mary says he says father won’t hear of it (12:24, episode 34); Invented scene but Mary’s assertion he’s a gentleman brought in here too, DC, Ch 8, p 54, mother brings in her special reasons for wanting Mary to make her own choice; it seems Mary knows nothing of mother’s past and will carry on knowing nothing; she will do her best if Mary really loves this man.

It’s here the Duchess’s story comes out: she and Mary discuss Mary’s love for Tregear; we saw the Duchess’s favoring of Frank in in a gondola in Venice). Duchess points out to Mary Tregear has no money and her father will not like his lack of noble connections, to which Mary says:

Mary: “You’re not going to be difficult.”
Duchess: “No no not now that I have come to know Mr Tregear, but then I have reasons for wanting you to be allowed to make your own choice.
Mary: [All innocence, the mother has never told her daughter of her past; a false erasure of mother’s past which apparently does go on among families]: “What reasons, mama?”
Duchess: “Well, I want you to be spared any unnecesssary sufferings, to be parted from the man you love makes the heart empty at least for a time. Now if you really love each other, you must be together and I shall do my very very best to bring round your father.”

Episode 37: Who to Wed?

Scene 4) Duke in some antechambre in Matching, looks grim, Silverbridge to him, they apologize to one another, from letter Duke preaches to Silverbridge after the election to guard fellow countrymen that they might be safe, free … From DC, Ch 15, letter on p. 99.

The first of several long and/or important effective scenes between Duke and son. Son comes in and apologizes and Duke replies he was ungenerous. Long talk about values, Duke too didactic but it’s moving as son’s face lights up at moments as Silverbridge so admires his father. Here we learn that the Duke still looks forward to Silverbridge marrying Lady Mabel and son is unable to tell father but clearly “off Lady Mabel”.

Now the great scene in the Priory Ruins:


The duke and duchess glimpsed as they enter — long shot

Summary: Duke and Duchess walking slowly together, she is black, important moment for series, contrast to them all aglow in sunlit landscape of Matching in previous Part, now in black, and she puts a deep red rose in his lapel. She remembers back to her walk with Alice (CYFH? and 2:3, Episode 14.

This gothic memory shows how gothic deepens; it was more than about harm; she was bucking his authority; she claims to be talking about Silverbridge, but her aim to get him to accept and help Tregear supposedly as Silverbridge’s friend; (that he’s a conservative not to count); his old ploy that he doesn’t interfere; she says Silverbridge got his seat that way, but Duke persists he must make his own passage, what’s wrong with him? not a man of means; he agrees to think carefully about Mr Tregear but will not find him a seat; what is he to me but dubious friend of Silverbridge, and she bursts; “and your daughter”, and he doesn’t hear for her illness and coughing, and asks him to take her inside. First serious scene towards death (opening of 12:24 Dolly says he couldn’t do without her, and we saw her take medicine mid-part).

A transcript:

Establishment shot: We glimpse the Duchess coming into the ruins through the masonry of the ornate columns. She is dressed in black. Then we see just the half-columns and then gradually the Duke and Duchess walking slowly and both in black come into view; they are clearly an aging pair, smiling companionably he with a cane, taking the night air

Duchess: “Ah, these ruins! [We hear birds; we see him in evening dress emerge alongside her]

They walk forward as aging couple.

Duchess: “I do so love it here [bird now very loud]. You remember how angry you were years ago when I walked here with my cousin, Alice under the moon.” [She laughs, he looks grave and serious]
Duke: “I couldn’t bear that any harm could come to you.”
Duchess: “It was only a cold, you old silly.” [So what she has is only a cold she thinks]
Duke: “It is getting chilly now. Shall we go in?
Duchess: “Oh no, I want to talk to you . . . about Silverbridge . . . now then if you’re to reclaim him for the liberal party, you must do all that you can to work yourself into his good graces.”
Duke: “My dear, I am trying to do as you suggested . . . work myself into his good graces. What do you want me to do? fawn on [they are framed by plinths now) the boy?”
Duchess: “No, no you must be more subtle than that.”
Duke: “Hmmmm.”
Duchess: “You could start by being kind to his friend, Francis Tregear.” [From her enigmatic intense face we see she is intriguing again, this is not for Silverbridge, but ostensibly for Mary, ultimately compensation for herself in those opening parts we saw]
Duke: “Mmm. He has been a very bad influence. It was from him that Silverbridge first learned his conservative affectations.”
Duchess: [very irritated frustrated look on her face] “Planty, we have already agreed there is to be a truce about that.” [She also looks as if she’s about to quaver and old, ill, cold] and that truce must extend to Mr Tregear.”

Duke looks thoughtful because puzzled. Her assertions makes no sense. Shots go back and forth between their faces as they talk [we see they do not live in the same realms of values].

Duchess [breathes a little then] “Now then, Francis Tregear wishes for a career in public service.”
Duke: “Then he’d better set about finding himself one.”
Duchess: “But he has no influence and little money.”
Duke: “My dear, I can’t mend his lack of either.”
Duchess: “But you might help him [looks and stance in her eyes and face remind me of her body language when she spoke with Lopez] by finding him a seat in the house.” [Confiding]
Duke: “He’s a conservative.”
Duchess; “Planty, we have already agreed that that is not to count just now.”
Duke: “My dear, it’s is gettin’ cold. Now shall we go in?” [now he indicates they are to walk off and the shot is medium range]
Duchess: “No, no just a moment. A seat in the house for Mr Tregear?”
Duke: “I don’t interfere with parliamentary seats. I . . . you should know that after . . . after all this time.”
Duchess: “And yet Silverbridge was for Silverbridge.”
Duke: “It fell vacant in the natural course. Silverbridge made his own appeal to the electors.”
Duchess: “And so will [now breathless, might have said “should”] Mr Tregear. Planty, I’m only asking that you should persuade some friend to find him somewhere to make [she paces about stone square, we are watching through cloistered columns again].
Duke: “No . . . Young men of Mr Tregear’s class and condition must work their own passage.”
Duchess: “What’s wrong with his class and condition?”
Duke: “Nothing. I mean that although he is a gentleman, he’s yet as you admit a man of little means. He must look to a profession before he looks to Parliament.” [This is Mr Low’s argument about Phineas in Phineas Finn.]

Duke has now taken off his warm elegant black cloak and has it ready to wrap around her.
Duchess picks off a red rose from a bush.

Duchess: “Planty I should wish you to think [puts it in his lapel] very carefully about Mr Tregear [he looks lovingly at her], mmmm? [we hear the birds].

Cloak is now on her and wrapped tight and she holds it.

Duke: “But I am not going to find him a seat in parliament. After all, what is he to me, nothing but a somewhat dubious friend to my son.”
Duchess [bursts out}: “and your daughter!”

He looks up suddenly as it might begin to come to him what this is all about, but he has not heard after all, they are interrupted because she suddenly looks very ill indeed, and sick and turns and looks at him with a ghastly nauseous look.

Duke: “My dear, did you say something . . . ” [after all it seems he had not quite heard . . . ]
Duchess coughs hard, short of breath and he looks at her alerted as she suddenly confronts her state.

Duke: “My dear, you’re ill.”

She breathes hard, sways, tries to deny it, looks grim.

Duchess [weak voice]. “It is chilly [“very chilly?” — hard to make out]. Would you take me inside please?”
Duke [arm around her] “My dear, we should have gone in when I said.”
They look into one another’s eyes.
Duchess mouths: “Yes” and then turns.

No music. they walk back in the silence, she leaning against him. I think of crows. Camera follows from distance as she coughs. We hear their steps on the stone pavement.
A long shot takes in bushes with red and purple flowers to the side.

I love this scene. The Duke and Duchess late at night in elegant black walking among the Priory ruins. She remembers his anger (so we return where we began, very satisfying esthetically and thematically, binding this story) and says she only had a cold. How mad he was at Alice. He insists he was worried about her health (forgets he wanted to control her too). Neither brings up Burgo or the forced marriage but we remember it and they do too. Sometimes intelligence is asked of movie-goers.

In a later scene Duchess again tells the Duke he must work his way into the good graces of his son. Duke: “what do you want me to do, fawn on the young man?” No just be more tactful and distanced and give him room — she doesn’t say this and we get the irony about how parents often are driven to make up to adult children who they have little control over. This is not a 1870s story but a 1970s one.

Then the Duchess moves to Mr Tregear and we see another of these scenes where she is trying to get the Duke to do what she wants in cases he can’t or won’t and doesn’t know or sympathize with her goal. She wants him to get a position for Mr Treager.

He says he doesn’t do this sort of thing. She mentions Silverbridge; he denies this is that sort of thing. (This harks back to scene 1 where the Boncassens note that the election may be said to be free but Silverbridge has the same name as his district and no opponent. It also refers to the many places in the series where he denies her this way, and maybe he is no good at this kind of networking unless it’s his direct blood relative.)

The Duke clearly does not like Frank mostly because the Duke blames him for Silverbridge’s change of heart, he is someone who made the Duke’s son “a Tory!,” and what’s more his origins are “dubious.” She almost spills the truth to say Tregear is a friend of your daughter, but instinctively fearing his (let’s call it Oedipal) reaction, she halts at an outburst about “your daughter,” partly because she begins to cough violently.

She is cold, looks unwell and all the while he is attempting to put his cloak around her; she coughs, feels chilled, and they go in. It’s that last silent interaction that’s so good.

***************

London and Parliament scenes.

Scene 5) Parliament seen, speaker talking, up in gallery Duke, clergyman sleeping, Silverbridge joins him, and father asks why he is up there with him; he replies he can hear just as well up here, but we are to feel he prefers to be with father already, again this is not the book but a strong domestic nexus that is 20th century nuclear middle class ideal. Also he is not happy among Tories who are not his family friends.

Orlando’s reference to armor-clad warships comes from his requests to the Duke in PM; they agree Drought is a man they neither of them like; Duke responds, “Well, you chose your own boat sir” (line in DC) gradual realization of Silverbridge that men matter (Trollope’s firm idea is men not measures), remark on Drought’s behalf that he is willing to “do his part of the grind” and “most fellows aren’t, sir” has its origin in a dialogue between Silverbridge and father, DC, Ch 25, p. 158, a chapter in the book where Silverbridge urging Gerald to keep to the liberal side and “I’ve made an ass of myself”); the invitation to dine at the Beargarten which so touches the Duke; the comment about cads there and in Parliament to from DC, dialogue with son, DC, Ch 26, pp. 163-64 (instead of Phineas Finn and Irish matter changed to armaments so as to eliminate Donal McCann’s part).

In Parliament Orlando is going on and on about armaments and ironclad ships as the camera moves up to observe the Duke high up listening and Silverbridge comes in. The jist: Silverbridge finds Orlando as distasteful as the Duke but does not acknowledge Orlando is “his”
leader and defends him on the grounds he’s a grind. Something Silverbridge remarks the Duke is and few are (including him).

A touching scene because Silverbridge invites the Duke to his club and when the Duke understands this (it takes a moment for him to get it), he is so pleased and off they go.

Silverbridge beginning to tease as they go off together: “Of course there may be one or two cads, Sir, but there are plenty here as well.”

Scenes 6 and 7) Important scene: Club (Beargarten), Source is DC, Chs 26, pp. 166-68, and DC, Ch 27, pp. 170-72 (where Tifto [JOhn Ringham] barges in); they’ve finished dining and are coming in for cofffee and drinks afterwards; talk about how club engenders selfish attitude, then the reference to Lady Mabel in the book too and in both film and book Silverbridge’s face registers he’s changed his mind, interrupted first by Tregear who leaves quickly and then Tifto who doesn’t; Tifto commits the gaff of offering a bet to Omnium:

In book Tifto doesn’t offer a bet, but Silverbridge does say “you are making an ass of yourself”; father says you must part with him with “courtesy and kindness”.

This is a memorable scene for those who know the novel. Tifto invades the son and father after dinner and makes an ass out of himself, shows himself to be vulgar, attempts to get the Duke to put on a bet, finds it amusing when the Duke says he knows nothing of horses but that they have “tails and heads.” We see Silverbridge’s agon and Tifto’s resentment at the end. Prefaced by graceful Tregear’s entranceand his exit when he sees father and son are alone — so a contrast to Tifto. Lady Mabel has come up but Silverbridge never quite tells his father he no longer wants the young woman the Duke thinks he the Duke could understand and love.

We’ve already seen Isabel Boncassen is very different from the duke and would not understand him — she really seems not to understand much. A child-like woman again. Trollope’s Isabel has some aspects of gay witty lady of Restoration comedy.

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Episode 38: Derby Run. Back to Matching and now Duchess is ill. Scene Eight.


Duchess can no longer walk or move with ease; in great physical discomfort

Matching, Duchess in Boudoir, Duchess dressed and sitting up but ill, with Mrs Finn next to her as friend and nurse, DC, Ch 1, p 4, Duchess fretting she cannot go see Derby, stop Silverbridge from “doing anything unwise” about Lady Mabel. Mrs Finn says Mary needs help, mother says she “poor dear” thinks she must stay here when she longs to be in London and with Tregear. This is Mary’s posture during early phase of book vis-a-vis her widower father. Later she’s sent to Lady Cantripp, eventually returns home). Duchess irritated because she cannot give Tregear encouragement or work “on Planty” while laid up (“I am finding it very hard” especially as he’s in London, lays back, sighs.)

Barbara Murray again a nurse — alas this is what superfemales dwindle to in bourgeois dramas. Duchess wretched, wants to go see the race of Prime
Minister, help Mary see Tregear in London (I repeat Mary at Matching because mother ill — we are to feel they close); she has heard something to Lady Mabel’s discredit and wants to find out about that. The point made. She is much more ill than she admits, can’t eat, not eating. Can’t get up.

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London, Carleton Terrace, the familiar breakfast room. Ninth scene. Nighttime. Lady Mabel Grex announced and we get a powerful scene where Silverbridge rejects her aggressive overtures with easy panache.

I’m not keen on Silverbridge here, but Lady Mabel does seem hypocritical here (see comment on how she is very like Kate Croy in Henry James’s Wings of the Dove). She is left stranded and excluded at its end.

He has some good lines. There is nothing nothing like this in Trollope. Instead Lady Mabel remains self-contained, dwelling in anguish (“howling” with a “storm” about her is how Frank Tregear thinks of her towards the end of the book) in her father’s ruined (gothic estate with no life to live, and the one she misses is Frank Tregear who is the rat who changed ships (again see comment on his affinity with Jamesian males). Even Raven’s Tregear is
ambiguous and we rarely see him with Mabel after 12:24’s anguished scene.

Silverbridge is reading Bell’s life in the old breakfast room. To him Lady Mabel, and here she gets her first full rebuff. Sources include DC, Ch 40, pp. 256-58 (Mabel says “I could live alone there and be happy”), 42, pp. 273-74 (self destructive behavior over rig), Ch 52, pp. 327-328 where we have Trollope’s Silverbridge’s awareness and jealousy of Frank (all this long nuanced history is excised or condensed in the film); Ch 59, p. 377 (deepest scene of book). In film as Lady Mabel has been companion of Silverbridge’s pleasures when young so when he casts her off she iss paralleled to Tifto (1) as in 11:22-23 structurally Silverbridge paralleled to Lopez.

She says he’s not been calling; father interrupts so pleased (this is sign of TV drama genius); and Mabel tries to use this. This is a bad weapon for Silverbridge repeatedly tries to show himself separate from father, so now his estrangement from Lady Mabel grows stronger at this wrenching of his father’s presence before him. This scene is all that is left of Duke’s invitation to Lady Mabel and her time at Matching, but the plot-hinge is there even if a vestige.

For more on Trollope’s Frank and Mabel see comments.

12:25, Silverbridge and his Dad next time.

Ellen

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Our heroines whose names at this point are: Glencora, Duchess of Omnium (Susan Hampshire) and Mrs Marie Finn (Barbara Murray)

Dear Friends,

I’ve put on this blog a summary of the episodes of this part (An Elegiac Culmination), prefaced by situating it in the whole series, and containing several transcripts of key scenes, quotations from others, and stills.

Tonight I add a commentary.

General remarks:


Silverbridge (Anthony Andrews) salutes his sister, Mary (Kate Nicholls), Lady Mabel (Anna Carteret) and Mrs Finn on this cold sunny day (see the blanket)

When we get to Pallisers 12:24 and move finally out of the Prime Minister and into Duke’s Children, the mood of this series changes radically. It becomes idyllic-elegiac, and picturesque. This last book is the most changed by Raven for Raven does not kill off the Duchess until the final episode. He shows her sinking; she looks old and she is continually taking medicines, but she is there and very active. He changes the meaning of the book.

We saw in reading Trollope’s novel, The Duke’s Children, its weakness is its real backstory and passion about the Duke’s dissatisfaction with his marriage finally and this is not brought to the fore. Too painful for Trollope to make a front story because perhaps a parallel with his own marriage. In the book the Duchess’s use of Mary as a vicarious substitute which leads the Duke to reject Tregear passionately.

Here in the film we have instead a deeply loving couple, different no doubt, but sharing grief, loss, outlook. This Duke has no backstory. And the forefront is his struggle with Silverbridge. It is significant that people writing about Trollope’s book before the series write eloquently, movingly, and sentimentally about the Duke v Silverbridge as central to the novel. John Wiltshire says one thing movies often do is make visible how the average person wants to see a novel.

But Raven does more: 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 unwilling to marry the boy.

All the proto-feminism of Trollope is erased here: we haven’t a woman who is not given a choice she wants and therefore no place; instead she is made somewhat superficially cynical and wavering with a desire to become Tregear’s lover-mistress again, and we have pairs of young lovers contrasted, and it’s clear Silverbridge and Mabel are the mismatched pair against Frank and Mary’s deeply felt yearning and Silverbridge and Isabel’s bright young hope and energy. This lays the groundwork for the wet dream of the the American girl which takes over (and replaces the function of Madame Max as superfemale in the European movie style)

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Facing it (defeat, later life): Duke (Philip Latham) and Duchess in their bedroom suite late at night

The duke and Duchess’s story:

Raven sees the Duke as noble, but also someone who would be lost, vulnerable, and something of a butt because he’s no networker and is not complicit or corrupt himself; he lives in a way others regard as dull; watching him talk with Phineas Finn through a window, his son, Silverbridge tells Lady Mabel he looks far older than his age. The implication is Silverbridge wants to enjoy life more and thus look younger.

For Trollope the character is this way too: but Trollope also identifies with the Duke, recognizes himself in him and critiques society for more than its materialistic corruption. All along, as Raven once said in an interview, the central figure for Raven has been the Duchess: it’s paradoxical, as Raven in part turned the series in many stories of gentleman attempting to succeed in the world.

Silverbridge is contrasted to his father and Anthony Andrews as Silverbridge gains gravitas when he is contrasted to the Duke’s deep idealism and genuine thought on the one hand and Dolly Longstaffe’s disillusioned cynicism and insight on the other.

There are two scenes between Silverbridge and his father, in the first Silverbridge tells of his desire to marry Lady Mabel and the Duke approves; the second is a central linchpin of the episode — and a powerful dramatic one. The Duchess’s disapproval of her son’s choice (what happened to that idealistic young girl of 1:1? we are to ask) contrasts with his father’s approval; his father’s dismay at his lack of altruism and depth contrasts with his mother’s way of regarding politics as a matter of family sheerly and individuals.

All this is true to Trollope’s conception, only it’s not in the Duke’s Children as the Duchess dies in the book’s first paragraph.

There is no contrast of the Duchess and Lady Mary. They are shown to love and glimpses of a deep relationship seen fleetingly, but there are so few scenes between them. The first is about entering the world together; the others about love affairs, Silverbridge for Marbel and Lady Mary for Frank. The Duchess identifies with her own lost love, not the girl in front of her for herself quite. Except for Marie Finn and the Duchess, at no point in all the series do we see women’s friendships as central to their lives beyond the early courtship before marriage, not even their family ones – as a mother-daughter pair would be. Lady Mary seems more acutely aware of her father: she worries lest Silverbridge upset him further; wants Tregear to appear to be serious and earnest before her father. Once her mother approves of Tregear at the close of 11:22, all is settled. I do not forget the Duchess early on we see her preparing an album to read with her daughter — in effect home-schooling her.

The culminating great scenes of the whole series as such are really the very long ones between the Duke and Duchess, which punctuate the series throughout. Sympathetically presented as they are, Phineas Finn and Madame Max (aka Marie) Goesler Finn are secondary hero and heroine. So their enjoyment of their park and grown children and the deeply felt scene at mid-point in the episode as the two learn to live with their loss of power are final moments in a 24 episode long story.

The film story began with a forced marriage between two very unlike people, deeply unsympathetic who had found people congenial to them, and we have experienced a long and rocky road with much estrangement and times of alienation, especially on the deep-feeling Duke’s part, and dogmatic uncomprehending insistence on his own way; for the Duchess it’s been frustration, deep and unending, at first an intense lack of fulfillment of her impulses and then when she had the chance for her ambition, and her desire to show off and have people admire her and feel on top and be ahead, she is thwarted, not appreciated, stopped, partly out of her own adequate judgement Trollope wants us to see, but also that (in the films this is there more unqualifiedly as the book’s anti-semitism and xenophobia has been cut) her protegee never had a chance. But now they are grown old together and have come to understand and appreciate one another.

Trollope’s critique of marriage becomes in the Raven team hands a reinforcement of submission and repression to family aggrandizement and social mores, for there are no such coming together loving scenes between the Duke and Duchess (and very moving they are) in either Phineas 2 or The Duke’s Children — for that matter 8:15 over the Duke’s death are invented and elaborated semi-original scenes too.


Phineas (Donal McCann) and Marie, secondary couple, standing out in the group of friends and family, and standing by

These scenes of Duke and Duchess are contextualized by three or four shorter between the Duke and Bungay, the Duke and Phineas and Bungay and Marie Finn and the Duchess. In all we see how the Duke has come to enjoy power and doesn’t want to let go because he wants to leave his mark on the society; he wants to have done something good and decent and far-reaching. Bungay says it was enough to hold on and provide peace. Phineas and Marie Finn’s views are simply that the Duke and Duchess have done what they could and now that their followers are tired of doing nothing exciting (bustle), nothing for war, for advancement of themselves, they have to let go and be glad they have escaped unscathed relatively, gotten what they could out of it.

The Duchess is as unwilling to let go as the Duke; and in their final long scene together she cries out more than he about their retirement which he has finally accepted before the scene begins.

It’s done in their bedroom with a mirror nearby and often we see her through the mirror — a device used repeatedly in films when women are at the center of the scene: it’s suggested in film studies that this shows how women judge themselves as they imagine society sees them, and invent an identity or assume one society imposes or wants them to enact, or they want to enact in order to be accepted.

Among these contextualizing scenes (for the Duke and Duchess) is the held-over the long scene in The Prime Minister (Chapter 68, “The Prime Minister’s Creed”), where Phineas and the Duke go for a walk in the park and talk politics. This is an important scene in PF2 and it is here too.

What is fascinating is how Trollope remains in generalities far more than the Raven team and how the Raven team update what’s said in Trollope to be a conservative message for the 1970s. In Trollope the Duke and Phineas remain in philosophical generalities like Monk does in his letter (the parallel moment in Phineas Finn when Monk defines what is meant by representative government and faces that it means government which includes the mediocre, the stupid, those who “represent” all the feelings and interests of their constituences. He does not think of lobbyists as we have them today :)):

In Trollope the implications have to do with income and property redistribution finally, it’s never made explicit. The Duke is simply a staunch liberal who wants to see more justice, noble loving hearts, clear intellect and egalitarian feelings spread through the earth and then produce legislation. In Raven’s film this is made explicit; he felt he could not remain vague. Palliser is talking of something that would bring about or call for redistributing property and rights and advantages and privileges. It’s Phineas who in both book and film says he is not sure he wants to go beyond fairness. The Duke says as people born to such privilege do they dare argue they deserve this and argue the others don’t (are ontologically inferior is what is meant) and not try to help others and also argue for their rights too, and work towards it. The Duke says this will increase happiness for all, but admits especially those without advantages.

Phineas’ reply in the film is that even those without advantages may not want egalitarianism, and it won’t make them happy to get rid of distinctions, not at all. Raven and his team are careful not to have Phineas argue the conservative view itself, and the Duke turns to his beautiful landscape and we see his luxurious room and remember how lovely his lifestyle and he says he wouldn’t want to give what he has up and maybe has the luxury of hoping for egalitarianism while he knows it will not happen for a long time to come.

This may seem far away from the 1970s, but the costume drama hides the agenda here. Bungay in his scene with the Duke argues (as he’s done before in the film and again not so explicitly in Trollope’s book) that English people don’t want revolution; they want things to remain at peace and orderly. This is Raven’s 1970s Toryism, for he has taken no poll.

Beyond contextualizing our aging hero and heroine this way, their life and times, the relationship and types the Duke and Duchess represent are shown visually and comically. The Duchess is to go out riding in a carriage with Lady Mary and Marie Finn with her sons and Frank Tregear on horseback. She is late dressing herself exquisitely. She does don a beautiful (alluring to my eyes) hat. How she loves coming out and Silverbridge telling her how lovely she looks. Then she refuses her seat in the carriage and instead takes the reigns away from her footman servant and leads the band herself on the top seat.

It’s touching: the young Lady Glen is there yet; this is just the sort of thing she loved from the beginning. After their dialogue the Duke and Phineas walk out and see the group. The Duke hurries over to take his wife down from her perch (lovingly of course) and worries that the young men’s race will hurt them. It’s just the sort of way he has of fretting over her health when she was pregnant in the early episodes. In character still.

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The second generation of heroines: the deep feeling Mary and Lady Mabel (these are the center for Raven, and Isabel Boncassen, so delightful for Trollope to conjure up as an old man, is marginalized as exotic, foreign) talk of their heroes, Tregear and Silverbridge and Mary of her father

This is matched by the scene where Silverbridge tells Tregear he must give it up; this is chosen to be dramatized twice (much earlier when the Duchess objected we had a version of this) as befits a series about gentlemen coping:

Then there is the Duke’s Children, or second generation material. How are we asked to see this in the film? Early in the episode is the very moving scene with Frank where she implies she is offering herself to him sexually again, and he refuses not on the grounds he does not love her or could not again, but that he cannot tear himself between two women.

This romance is not in Trollope; Trollope’s Tregear is harder and would not sentimentalize this way; we are not sure about any sex, and he is now bound to and wants Mary for herself and also what she can bring. Trollope’s feminism is also gone; he really does have Mabel lament she has nothing to do with her life; this is a new motif with him; he shows her in a bleak gothic castle with Miss Cassewary at the end of DC. Here she is simply cut and dismissed by Silverbridge (I like that as in Trollope he is nowhere as likeable as he is in this series). Her need for money as central motivation is in both book and film.

About half-way through the episode we have the scene between Silverbridge where he asks Lady Mabel to marry him and she refuses; while short, it is strong and powerfully emotional. They play at courtship and it’s lyrical and sweet at moments (not hard in the way of Trollope); still, she tells him she cannot marry without love, yet at the end relents to say when he is grown up, harder, to come again. Alas, she does not in the film realize harder means he will not come again. In the book we are told of further proposals (not dramatized) which she refuses; they do not occur here. In the final scene she is regretting having said no because now Isabel will get him.

David Lean says most of the time don’t pay attention to the end of a movie or an episode. It’s a sop for the masses, an upbeat piece tacked on to please nervous backers and distributors. This episode shows that. It’s in the middle of the episode that the great moments arise. I think mini-series and soap opera don’t work in the way of commercial singleton films and the middles and endings are important.

Once again, in Trollope’s Duke’s Children as we have it together (only 3/4s of the original book) the books’ hero is the Duke and he stands alone at the center of the children the Duchess left him who have been brought up by and resemble her. In the book the Duchess is least linked to Lady Mary because she sympathized strongly with the love affair with Tregear remembering her own. That’s why in the book the Duke is against it.

We see 20th century attitudes again (as we did in earlier episodes when we saw the Duke misbehaving in front of his son and the Duchess trying to mediate and “spoiling” her sons): the older folks Duke and Duchess are suffering badly over their loss of power but hide it from the children. It’s presented that adult parents hide all sorts of realities from their children. That’s a modern ideal or even norm perhaps in some places, but not then. Major Tifto is marginalized, not central in the early way of the book which weighs Silverbridge’s decisions about male friends as heavily as it does his relationship with his father and choice of Isabel over Lady Mab. Then both Duke and Duchess involve themselves in Silverbridge’s choice: is she presentable, they ask (as if he had to get a middle-management joy through giving dinner parties). It’s almost funny in the way the material lends itself to these anachronisms.

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As to technologies: how daring are the close-ups of Susan Hampshire and Philip Latham. Not until very recently did cameras come close to the faces of heroes and heroines (who we are to admire and want to be I suppose, identify with) to show their aging faces, slack skin, pock marks, blemishes of all sorts. This is also seen (a little farther off) for Phineas and Madame Max and Dolly to show them as aging, but not close up.

This is radical, an approach not seen until about 4 years ago.


Visuals have a logic of their own dependent on the particular actor/actress: they chose the yearning Nicholls for daughter of the originally brightly idealistic Lady Glencora; she is in dark green to deepen the pastoral green of the part. She contains in her a haunted spirit and is the visual genius loci of the part. This is why I began the first posting on this part with her

No it’s no Brideshead, The Jewel in the Crown, or Love for Lydia, 11-13 episodes of daring pictorialism and new techniques of various sorts, but I think the Pallisers is not written about in depth because (like the year-long Forsythe Saga), it was so ambitious, and is so difficult to remember, let alone apprehend precisely.

Onto Pallisers 12:25.

Ellen

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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.

Scene 8:

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?”
Tregear: “Right.”
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)


Yearning


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.”

He nods.

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.

She nods.

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.”

She nods.

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
Silverbrige

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

Ellen

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The cork-soled boots, now heavy with subtext

Dear Friends,

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.

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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.

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Evening coffee

Duchess: “I saw you playing chess with Mr Lopez this evening.”
Duke: “Mmmmm….”
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 ….”
Duke: “Yes.”
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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

Duke: “Cora!”
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.

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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.

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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.

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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):

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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):

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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.

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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).

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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

Ellen

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