Analysis of a Scene XXXIII: Remembering Robert Hardy in “Middlemarch”

Robert Hardy as ever-genial Uncle Brooke - Remembering Robert Hardy in "Middlemarch"

Robert Hardy as the ever-genial Uncle Brooke

As Robert Hardy recently passed away on August 3 at the age of 91, Admin and I thought it would be a good time to remember him by discussing some of his performance in “Middlemarch” (1994).  He played Arthur Brooke, uncle and guardian to Celia (Caroline Harker) and Dorothea Brooke (Juliet Aubrey), the latter of whom eventually becomes the Rev. Edward Casaubon’s (Mr. Malahide) bride.  But we should start with their first meeting.

Just your average little get-together

Just your average little get-together

In this scene, Uncle Brooke has invited Mr. Casaubon and Sir James Chettam (Julian Wadham), a well-to-do and handsome young neighbour, to dine at Tipton Grange.  Casaubon already has the reputation of being “the most learned man in the county”, as Dorothea admiringly tells Celia.  She doesn’t mention anything about Chettam, though.

Uncle Brooke:  Sir Humphry Davy, now… I dined with him years ago at Cartwright’s.  Wordsworth was there, you know, Wordsworth the poet?  Davy was a poet too, did you know that?  Or as you might say, Wordsworth was Poet One and Davy was Poet Two, do you follow?
[Casaubon waves away a servant attempting to replenish his drink.]
Uncle Brooke:  Wordsworth was Poet One and Davy was Poet Two.
[Everyone laughs except for Casaubon, who is eating his soup with deadly seriousness.]

Pleased with his own wit: "Wordsworth was Poet One and Davy was Poet Two."

Pleased with his own wit: “Wordsworth was Poet One
and Davy was Poet Two.”

RF:  You can already tell Uncle Brooke is delighted by all the company and has been dominating the conversation, in a very broad, friendly sort of way.  You can also tell that he keenly appreciates his own wit.  😉  I had to google Sir Humphry Davy, but Uncle Brooke is right; he was indeed a poet, although he later became known as an inventor and scientist.  It would be interesting to know what he and Wordsworth talked about, but Uncle Brooke doesn’t bother with those details.  Of course, while all this joviality is going on, Casaubon seems to be in his own little universe, concentrating on his soup with great intensity.  Celia will later complain to Dorothea that he was noisy about it, but I think she’s just being a bit unfair.  Chettam laughs dutifully (he’s trying to impress Dorothea), but Casaubon doesn’t seem to care much for Uncle Brooke’s sense of humour.  Or maybe he just hasn’t noticed Uncle Brooke made a joke.

Concentrating intently on his soup

Concentrating intently on his soup

Admin: Well, Casaubon made one definite slurp sound at the beginning there, but I bet Uncle Brooke was slurping just as much when he wasn’t yelling about random poets.  Poor Casaubon doesn’t seem to eat much beyond soup, probably of the thin brothy nature no less, so I can’t really blame him for working on it intently.  He’s got to get some calories in for that big brain of his.   I really like Casaubon’s intense “I’m trying to eat soup” expression. It is ever so fetching in its raven-like severity.

RF:  Yes, he’s concentrating so hard on that one bowl of soup, he keeps waving the servants away as though they’re distracting him.  😀

Admin:  His elegant hand-waves are strangely mesmerizing. 🙂
Continue reading

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Patrick Malahide Is Magnus Crome in Mortal Engines

Source: Mortal Engines Wiki

According to IMDB, Patrick Malahide is now listed as Magnus Crome on the Mortal Engines page. So, our initial speculation seems correct.  Crome is a fascinating character, so I’m really looking forward to seeing him on screen.  Patrick Malahide will be perfect for the role.

Hopefully there will soon be some production  photos, but for now this artistic rendition from the Mortal Engines Wiki will suffice.  🙂

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Happy International Beer Day!

Happy International Beer Day from the Appreciation!

Chisholm looks a bit perturbed about something, but hopefully he'll enjoy his light ale anyway.

Chisholm looks a bit perturbed about something,
but hopefully he’ll enjoy his light ale anyway.

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It’s a Meme! 46 – Anniversary Edition

Admin: The Appreciation turned five years on July 28, 2017, so time to celebrate.  Better late than never 😉

RF:  We’ll just have to do more celebrating to make up for being late.  Happy Fifth Anniversary!  🙂

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Analysis of a Scene XXXII: Davy Meets Uncle Ebenezer

“It’s loaded.” Not the warmest welcome ever.

Patrick Malahide often plays neat-as-a-pin authority figures to perfection, but one of our all-time favorite characters is the completely bonkers, extremely scruffy miser Uncle Ebenezer from the very excellent 1995 production of “Kidnapped“.  Here we take a look at his introductory scene where we get a pretty good idea of just how deviously nutty this recluse is.

[Davy approaches his family home, the very desolate and crumbling Shaws Estate, and knocks on the door. A bird flies out of an open widow. It takes a good while before Uncle Ebenezer opens another window holding a gun.]
Uncle Ebenezer: It’s loaded.
Davy: I have a letter for Mr. Ebenezer Balfour…of Shaws.
Ebenezer: Who’s it from?
Davy: That’s no concern of yours. Is he here?
Ebenezer: Put it down on the doorstep and be off with ya.
Davy: It’s a letter of introduction.
Ebenezer: Of what?
Davy: A letter of introduction.

Now who would want to introduce themselves to this guy?

Admin:  And with that we get our first glimpse of Ebenezer Balfour, Davy’s uncle.  Ebenezer with his wild disheveled hair matches the crumbling scenery perfectly.  It also becomes immediately obvious that Davy thinks Ebenezer is a servant with his imperious “that is no concern of yours” comment.  I was somewhat gratified at his subsequent more desperate revelation that it is a letter of introduction after Ebenezer tries to send him on his way.  Anyway, it is pretty clear that Ebenezer takes the whole “keeps himself to himself” thing incredibly seriously.

RF:  The reason it took so long was because Ebenezer had to unearth his musket before opening the window.  😉  He certainly doesn’t look like “the master of Shaws” at first glance.  The bird flying out of the open window also suggests the place is a bit of a… fixer-upper.  You get the impression it was once quite stately; now it looks like the sort of place you’d spend the night in to win a bet, or you’d be forced to stay in overnight because your carriage broke down.  All it needs is an ogre or a vampire.

“Who are you?”

Ebenezer: Who are you?
Davy: My name is David Balfour.
[Looks of realization and worry flit across Ebenezer’s face]
Ebenezer: Is your father dead?
Davy:  [Stunned silence.]
Ebenezer: Oh aye, he’ll be dead, no doubt. Well man, I’ll let you in.

Admin:  Ebenezer’s expressions are perfect as he realizes who Davy is.  You can see right away that he knows exactly who Davy is and has been expecting and completely dreading this day.  Davy for his part is dumbfounded at Ebenezer’s rude inquiry into his father’s death. I really like the expression and tone Mr. Malahide uses when saying “oh aye, he’ll be dead.”  It is as though he’s thinking “oh, typical” as though his brother died on purpose just to foist an unwanted nephew on him.

Ebenezer realizes who Davy is.

RF:  Can’t blame Davy for being surprised that this strange, wildly dishevelled man somehow mysteriously knows already that his father is dead!  😀  And Ebenezer has been by himself for so long that manners regarding abrupt questioning about fathers’ deaths are completely gone – if they were ever there.  But you can see the gears (rusted and probably clogged with old grease) starting to turn in his brain as he realizes who Davy is.  You’re right, Ebenezer does seem to regard his brother’s death as more of a personal inconvenience than anything else.

Admin:  That rapid sequence of expressions as the old rusty gears turn is excellent.  It really adds to the scene and provides a wonderful illustration into Ebenezer’s character and mindset. Continue reading

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Something Neat XXXVIII: “Middlemarch” Publicity Photo

Another great find while image searching!  This time, it’s a colour version (albeit cropped) of a “Middlemarch” publicity photo I’d previously only seen in black and white, featuring Dorothea Brooke (Juliet Aubrey) and her fiancé, the Rev. Edward Casaubon (Mr. Malahide).  Click for a larger size.

Dorothea Brooke being charmed by the Rev. Edward Casaubon

Dorothea Brooke being charmed by a vampire the Rev. Edward Casaubon
(Image source: Dagens Nyheter)

I found the image on a Swedish site as part of an article discussing the impact of the “Cultural Man” (ie. Casaubon).  However, the translation provided by Google Translate was so rough that my comprehension had to end there – too bad, because I would’ve liked to have read the rest of what the author had to say.

It’s a great image because it’s so sweetly romantic and rather gallant; Casaubon hardly seems like a dusty, book-bound scholar whose blood is “all semicolons and parentheses” at all.  If he’d been able to keep up that attitude during their engagement and marriage, he and Dorothea wouldn’t have run into any trouble!  Unfortunately, as things were, he seemed to be completely bewildered and slightly fearful of the human contact thing, despite being certain he wanted to be married, so Dorothea had a bit of an uphill battle on her hands.  I think she would’ve worn him down eventually, though – in a good way.

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“That’s a Wrap” Mortal Engines Filming Update & Speculation

Will he play Crome? Source: Mortal Engines Wiki

Warning:  Character links contain spoilers so click with caution.

Stuff.co.nz is reporting that “Mortal Engines” has finished filming and is ready for post-production.   So far there hasn’t been any confirmation as to who Patrick Malahide will be playing.  But, I have read the book and think Magnus Crome, the Lord Mayor of London, is a very likely candidate.

Crome is described in the book as tall and thin with intense blue eyes, “skinny as a crow and twice as gloomy”.  OK, that last part doesn’t sound too flattering, but I think Mr. Malahide would make a great Magnus.  And hey, he’s had prior experience playing wildly intense guys called Magnus, hasn’t he?

I’m also happy to say that one of my “Wished for Co-Stars” is also in “Mortal Engines” (along with RFodchuk‘s choice of Hugo Weaving)  in the form of Joel Tobeck who will be playing Bürgermeister.  Actually, when I was reading the book, I thought Mr. Tobeck would be either Chrysler Peavy (one of my favorite characters) or the horrific Shrike.  I was wrong on both counts, but hopefully I’m a better judge on Mr. Malahide’s role.  🙂

Patrick Malahide, the best choice for mad men named Magnus.

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“Inspector Alleyn Mysteries” On the List of “The 10 Best Brit Detective Shows, Ever”

Hmmm... Number 8, eh? Patrick Malahide in "Inspector Alleyn Mysteries"

Hmmm… Number 8, eh?

I happened across a recent article in The Weekly Standard by Hannah Long, listing “The 10 Best Brit Detective Shows, Ever“.  After some interesting dissing of the upcoming “Murder on the Orient Express” remake (sadly, not the “Minder” version) we at the Appreciation were pleased to notice that one of our favourites appeared on the list.  Coming in at #8, “The Inspector Alleyn Mysteries” is described as follows:

A lesser-known series, Alleyn Mysteries is based on Ngaio Marsh’s novels. Patrick Malahide is wonderful as the dapper and understated gentleman detective, Roderick Alleyn, backed by a perfect working class foil in William Simons’ Inspector Fox.

While the tipped fedoras and tailored suits suggest noir, Alleyn Mysteries is more in the cozy mystery tradition, with country house murders and gloriously nutty supporting casts. Strong on atmosphere and entertainment value, the series’ writing isn’t quite good enough to give it a top spot.

Well, I don’t know about “lesser known” – the series is still in reruns in the U.K. – but I have to agree that Mr. Malahide is simply wonderful as the “dapper and understated gentleman detective”, which describes Alleyn very well.  And William Simons as Inspector Br’er Fox is indeed perfect as his foil/indispensable partner.

Modelling a properly tipped homburg<br>Image source: <i>The Weekly Standard</i>

Modelling a properly tipped homburg
(Image source: The Weekly Standard)

However, I think the “Inspector Alleyn Mysteries” owe more to film noir than Ms. Long is willing to grant.  Certainly the series had terrific lighting, staging, set decoration, wardrobe, and production values that all gave it a very noirish air as far as I’m concerned.  And I do agree that Mr. Malahide’s “tipped fedoras and tailored suits” were a big part of the appeal, with Alleyn frequently running into some bizarre suspects and situations (believe it or not, they get even more bizarre in the books).  I also think the series writers smoothed out some of Marsh’s rougher spots and made the storylines flow somewhat more organically, as well as adding much-needed warmth and depth to both Troy and Alleyn’s characters – which may get me in trouble with Marsh purists.

Showing off one of those well-tailored suits

Showing off one of those well-tailored suits

Other notable series on the list include “A Dorothy L. Sayers Mystery” featuring Lord Peter Wimsey at #10, “Cadfael” at #9, the Jeremy Brettt “Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” at #5, “Foyle’s War” at #3, “Inspector Morse” at #2, and “Agatha Christie’s Poirot” at #1.  Fearless Admin points out that Mr. Malahide guest-starred in both “Morse” (as Jeremy Boynton, cad extraordinaire, in “Driven to Distraction“), and “Poirot” (as Defence Council Sir Montague Depleach in “Five Little Pigs“), so he’s no stranger to those series.  We also thought that Mr. Malahide would be wonderful in “Foyle’s War” in any capacity, or in “Lewis”, a “Morse” spin-off that didn’t make The Weekly Standard’s list.  We’d have been happier if the “Inspector Alleyn Mysteries” could have ranked higher (okay, we might be slightly biased on that score), but still, we’re glad to see it on the list at all, showing that it hasn’t left people’s memories.

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Happy International Kissing Day!

Happy International Kissing Day from the Appreciation!

Every day is International Kissing Day for Troy and Alleyn. Aaawww. :-)

Every day is International Kissing Day for Troy and Alleyn. Aaawww. 🙂

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London Gangsters (Played by Patrick Malahide)

Skipling: "Do you believe me?" Sarge: "No."

Despite making a great looking copper, Patrick Malahide doesn’t always play characters on the right side of the law.

Certainly Patrick Malahide has played some amazing police detectives via DS Chisholm, Inspector Alleyn and the lovely DI Brennan of “Amnesia”. But, he has also played guys who run things on the other side of the law. In this installment of Variations on a Theme, we look at some of those deliciously wicked London gangsters who thrill us with their danger, style, wit, bravado and sexy Cockney accents.

George Cornelius | Colin Bennett | Derek Hadley | Jack Turner | The Gangster to Rule Them All

Admin: My  gangster choices are:

George Cornelius
(“Luther” Series 4, 2015)

Type of Gangster

Not even being chained to a radiator can spoil his bravado.

George is an old school London gangster with a penchant for dealing in (and stealing) high end gems. He controls not only his own personal network but also has massive influence over all of London’s underworld.  That is proven by his ability to “green light” an execution order on DCI John Luther.

George has a strong personality and remains defiant and humorous even after Luther forcibly cuffs him to a radiator.  He is eventually able to free himself by ripping the radiator from the wall. Clearly, George Cornelius is not the sort to ever allow himself to go soft despite now living a life of obvious luxury.

He’s the sort of crim who can admire Luther’s chutzpah while cheerfully explaining to him that “greenlit means greenlit”. George’s old school wit and charm allow him to easily steal the two “Luther” episodes he appears in. That is hardly surprising as George himself says, “at the end of the day I’m a thief,” and there is no reason why that quality shouldn’t extend to the show itself. 😉

Sartorial Style

The impeccably well styled George Cornelius.

George isn’t the flashiest of gangsters. He prefers tailor-made suits cut in classic designs and in conservative, but still rich, colors. He clearly goes to a lot of trouble finding the right silk neckties and scarves, making sure they compliment whatever suit he is wearing. Even though he opts for sensible designs, you can tell everything he wears costs a small fortune.

When seen preparing brunch for a lucky lady friend he wears a gleaming white button down shirt of what is obviously a very high end natural fabric.  Even when dressed casually, he still goes high end.

Luther: “Nice hat.” Truly, it is.

I was going to say he goes for “understated elegance” but in truth there is nothing understated about George. His clothes speak for themselves, shouting out to the world at large that their owner is a man of means and is not to be trifled with.

He’s also a very sensible gangster, choosing to protect himself from the frigid cold with a gorgeous wool coat with an equally gorgeous fedora for a profitable meeting with Luther. I’m sure the gemstones that Luther handed over to George (in order to call off the green light….whew!) will buy the dashing gangster even more high quality, classic additions to his impressive wardrobe. Continue reading

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