Edward the Seventh

It manifests just before I, Claudius “the stone that the builders rejected” at similar great length, and most closely resembles Koster’s A Man Called Peter in recounting the life of a great man, not pious but good and humane, who might be described as undone by political machinations, a rather intractable business.

The artistic calculation is on a long slump following the death of Prince Albert and, hewing closely to the spectacular career of his son without duties or post, during the viduity of Queen Victoria. He is right royal when put on, a sane, judicious man whose nephew Willy the Kaiser is “off his head”, and whose interest in reform is entangled in parliamentary wrangling.

He sees the destruction of Europe leaving Russia and America looming over things, and does what he can to avert it while arming Britain against his bellicose nephew.

A sportsman and ladies’ man, after the rigid upbringing he was subjected to.

“Common sense and moderation” are his forte.


French Without Tears

Rattigan’s fine analysis of Love’s Labour’s Lost, produced by Cedric Messina, with Nicola Pagett, Anthony Andrews, Michael Gambon and a magnificent cast including Vernon Dobtcheff as M. Maingot (“Hitler! Ce Hitler! Phénomène!”), Japanese billiards with a “bortious bump,” i.e., bumptious bore.

The play is thirty years before Losey’s Accident, the production ten years after (Asquith’s film dates from 1940).


The Picture of Dorian Gray

An æsthete in the worst sense, as the actress Sybil Vane discovers, a man with mortal enmity for the artist and his work.

Gielgud might well have modeled Sir Henry on the presiding spirit of John Osborne as transcriber and arranger.

Again Messina is the producer, another of Osborne’s contributions to television receives perfect treatment, the picture might be Sargent, it undergoes two only permutations, preliminary and final.


Private Lives

A very serious comedy, produced by Cedric Messina, on the veneer let down or whatever it is to get at the nub or what d’you call it.

The miraculous direction has it all, a great masterpiece gets its due, as it invariably must.


The Wings Of The Dove

Henry James, John Singer Sargent, England and the Continent (Venice), death of an American, a joke.

Why is an Englishwoman who has a mind of her own (cf. Losey’s The Romantic Englishwoman) like a dying American heiress? Because there’s no future in it.

A supremely artful mirror-arrangement, a superb television production for the BBC.


Twelfth Night

A prevalent theme of the sonnets, eminently clarified in the bibble-babble of lovers who are most mistaken until the end.

Ably directed by Gorrie to the point.