Langrishe, Go Down

Three sisters selling the trees on their country estate outside Dublin between the wars, one takes a lover for a time, a poor German scholar whose thesis is on “the Ossianic problem” in relation to Goethe and the brothers Grimm, she installs him on the grounds until such time as familiarity breeds contempt and his presence does not endear.

On a Chekhovian ground, a bit of passing folly.

The theatrical release was well-received by the Christian Science Monitor, hilariously by the New York Times, the Village Voice and especially the Los Angeles Times (Manohla Dargis), “all the emotional and intellectual appeal of cold tea and soggy toast.”

 

The Merry Wives of Windsor

The place built inside a television studio, houses and trees, town, as far as the eye can see, countryside for dueling ground, moonlit hill.

The personages attired in the time of Sackerson cap-a-pie.

A truly miraculous production of the Queen’s play with its virtuosity in the vernacular, the tremendous wit of its construction, and its sallies again and again from another part of the canon (“I will ensconce me behind the arras”), a goddamn funny play.

Slender goes in Thames with Falstaff and the false fair wearing white (such is the construction), Dr. Caius is the wise woman of Brentford (girl in green), Fenton the stag of old who gets his Nan, and there is Ford paying twenty pounds to cuckold himself as Brook, and Page the “secure ass” of Slender (as his wife of Dr. Caius) for his daughter Anne.

Richard Griffiths as Falstaff is mainly Ken Russell with a slight admixture of Peter Ustinov and James Robertson Justice to bring it off. Kingsley’s Ford is not to be missed. Prunella Scales and Judy Davis play the title roles, with Richard O’Callaghan as Slender, Nigel Terry as Pistol, Elizabeth Spriggs as Mistress Quickly, and Michael Bryant as the French doctor.

Bardolph finds honest employment, Dr. Caius and Parson Hugh are bated of mine host and avenged upon him, Auden has matter of this (the BFI liked naught but the ending).

 

 

Betrayal

The publisher, the agent, the author.

The play is dedicated to Simon Gray, Pinter having just directed the film of Butley, in which the form is suggested as “the key points in a relationship that now goes mainly back.”

A comedy of the literary life, which in London is an ancient and solemn expression, as it is on the Continent, less ancient in New York a bit.

It can’t be said that critics have followed this, but some (Vincent Canby, Roger Ebert) have praised it.

 

Pericles, Prince of Tyre

The king who marries his daughter is resolved into the resurrection of the wife, a scene exactly remembered in Dreyer’s Ordet, and the princess turned into a bawdy-house recalcitrant rescued by the governor of the province, a client.

That were sufficient, and John Gower, but that the play was censured and omitted over the centuries as too obscure for words to kind gentlemen and ladies, as would appear.

The play itself, in this production.

 

84 Charing Cross Road

You don’t get Landor’s Imaginary Dialogues on television anymore, but you did when Helene Hanff was writing in New York (when Jones filmed The Trial from Pinter’s screenplay, Ebert wanted to know if anybody still read Kafka).

Jones is an absolute genius of period representations, his London and his New York 1949-69 are backgrounds to the drama, only, and it is by making them perfect that he achieves this (cp. his The Merry Wives of Windsor for the BBC).

 

Jacknife

The close precedent is First Blood, Kotcheff’s analysis of the Crybaby American (after the Quiet American and the Ugly American). This makes a comprehensive satire, critics responded to the emotionalism with surprising adherence, except Variety’s and Janet Maslin (New York Times), who missed the point in their own way.

 

The Trial

“My name is Orson Welles,” said Harold Pinter acting onstage in Old Times with Liv Ullmann and Nicola Pagett.

The great commentary is Fellini’s 8, prepared in advance of Jones’ film, as it were.

The artist in his quarry, ultimately, with a sort of waltz to accompany his life, so many considerations that are not his concern.

Thus the comic novel, filmed in Prague and characterized very effectively as set at the time of writing.

The reviews do not appear to have been of any consequence.

 

Is there Life out there?

Educating Reba, “pie are round.”

 

Message for Posterity

John Singer Sargent couldn’t get Teddy Roosevelt to pose, finally the President turned upon him with rancor, that was it. The same thing happened with Eugene Smith and Charles Ives.

Churchill had to face a half-baked artist, John Ford tells the story in Gideon’s Day.

 

Time to Say Goodbye?

This is one of those TV movies that doggedly pursue the highest poetry in the most anodyne of settings and with the least likely of pretexts. Here the subject is ostensibly Alzheimer’s disease, and it gives refined hands like Eva Marie Saint and Richard Kiley a chance to work in close with nothing up their sleeves, but it’s really Yeats, “An aged man is but a paltry thing, / A tattered coat upon a stick, unless / Soul clap its hands and sing...” , and that’s King Lear.

 

Custody of the Heart

All of this pivots quite openly on Woman of the Year. The dry champagne of the directorial viewpoint nearly fizzes over when the businesswoman thrust from home takes up lodgings in a decommissioned lighthouse, but keeps its chill to an absolute finish.