Smiley’s People

The Chelsea pensioner after a government shakeup and “wise men” and younger associates on the circus rolls.

Action is proscribed, it walks into his lap, barring the unforeseen snip on call.

The new chief is not a bad sort when it comes right down to it.

Karla on the opposite end, too, has a weakness for the West.

Langton’s very brilliant direction takes the long, detailed route very much in stride.

Very many echoes subsist, Yates’ Bullitt early on, Nabokov imagining a trip back (safety pins are denied the girl), etc.

Gowers’ fantasia on Vaughan Williams for the theme each time, before and behind.


Up the Garden Path
Rosemary & Thyme

Into this steadily and brilliantly underplayed little series not lacking in grandeur or mystery, Langton strides like a colossus bringing all its shade flowers into sunny bloom. The direction isn’t better, it’s simply different, and so is the script. There’s almost a joking air about the inevitability of the predicament played to in the opening scenes, with the consciousness of Pollock’s Miss Marple or Lumet’s Poirot. But mostly it’s the sheer greatness of Langton’s filming on location in village homes and gardens, a step from Stone’s The Secret of My Success amplified in a quick sunny deadpan.

All but one of the gardens have been blighted by some unknown agent, in advance of an annual competition. Rosemary and Thyme are called in to mend them, yet a South African armed with a blowgun has vengeance plotted against the physician who killed her brother on the operating table, and a rare poison in her flowerbed.


The Gooseberry Bush
Rosemary & Thyme

The sendup is complete and entire, including even what bit the biter. The new cottage industries of New Age self-help handmade do-it-yourself skin-care products, for example, stirred in a vat and dealt out in 2000 jars a week by two sisters who rib the ex-husband of one into returning with his mother to see her own memorial garden (he’s a moneygrubber, a great one for mechanization and downsizing).

There’s a baby floating about and a dead artist who sired it on the housekeeper, an au pair girl who stayed on. Fit of jealousy over him, the girls had.

A young couple in need of money to get away (the daughter of one of the sisters) filch jars for sale in the flea market.

Langton’s prestidigitations re-orient these elements of composition (is that a baby in the New Dawn box?) along the way, as certainly indicated in the script by Clive Exton. The production is notable once again for a very fine sense of color.


Enter Two Gardeners
Rosemary & Thyme

Murder at the Grange is given a performance at on open-air theater newly laid-on by a housing magnate for his new wife, playing the Irish maid (he himself has a role).

There’s a good bit of off-putting and false scents among the ribaldry of the theatrical set, but one member of the cast lost a father to a holding company masking the conglomerate controlled by the founder of the feast.

The murder is a blunder mirroring his father’s suicide, a blank gun is loaded with live rounds but the wrong scene is rehearsed, the actor inspects his weapon by peering down the barrel.

A second attempt by hypodermic in the stage wine during the premiere mirrors the boy’s subsequent drug use, from which he has recovered to become a medical student.

Langton’s direction with Englefield’s cinematography is superb, the interiors are disposed along a line put forth by Losey’s The Romantic Englishwoman and magnified by Altman’s Gosford Park with reference to certain Old Masters.