Our Favorite Patrick Malahide Historical Costumes

Patrick Malahide has been in many wonderful historical period pieces. RFodchuk recently came up with the brilliant idea of discussing some of our favorite costumes worn in those drams. What to choose? What to choose? I mean there are loads and the vast majority of them are stunning. So, we’ll take a look at some that really stand out for whatever reasons while also giving ourselves an excuse to free our imaginations.

RF:  Agreed, there are lots to choose from.  We may have to do a few more editions.  😉

Admin’s Choices:

Mr. Ryder, Brideshead Revisited (2008)

A Bit About the Costume:

Mr. Ryder: "Why?" Charles: "I'm going up to Oxford." Mr. Ryder: "Ah, yes." He's very laid back. Or ever so slightly senile. Or is very good at pretending to be ever so slightly senile.

Open those windows; we need more light.

Patrick Malahide’s character, Mr. Ryder, is protagonist Charles Ryder’s (Matthew Goode) father. He is decked out in a rather fussy, old-fashioned Edwardian style outfit that is a few years behind the times. He wears a gorgeous jacket, winged collar shirt, and bow-tie. He occasionally completes the look with a very fetching pair of round spectacles.

Why Is It a Favorite:

Then he goes right back to his soup, reading a book at the same time - doesn't even see his only son out the door or say goodbye. [sniff sniff] :-(

Winged collar and round specs are a lethal combo.

I think it is that winged collar, I really like that. The look is very tidy and and trim, flattering Mr. Malahide perfectly. It also provides a quick shorthand in describing Mr. Ryder’s character. He is old-fashioned and eccentric. He lives in darkened rooms surrounded by his relics, and by looking at his wardrobe choices we can see he is as much of a relic as the curiosities he presides over.

The color palette has a delightful warm look that I find incredibly attractive, and it is a color scheme that works perfectly with Mr. Malahide’s complexion. I wonder if Mr. Ryder’s late wife chose some of those clothes for him many years ago? He doesn’t seem like he could be the type to make such spectacular choices on his own, so I wonder if he had help and simply held on to them for years. As you can see, the wardrobe choices are so well executed that the viewer can go all Sherlock Holmes and make several deductions as to the nature of Mr. Ryder.

How Would I Reimagine This Character:

I’m pretty sure H. Rider Haggard could come up with some good adventures for our hero. Source: Wikipedia

A great costume also has room for character reimagining. Mr. Ryder is so attractive and distinctive looking that it would be very easy to remove him from his darkened den and put him into a fantastic tale all his own. He could easily be a retired archaeologist who had spent the past 40 years hunting for King Solomon’s Mines.

There certainly is something of a H. Rider Haggard tale about him. Imagine Mr. Ryder leaving his comparatively dull life behind to begin fresh adventures searching for ancient tombs, lost civilizations, and maybe even rekindling an old romance? Lady Marchmain, eat your heart out! Charles would never see his father as a dull embarrassment ever again.

Inspector Carson, A Man of No Importance (1994)

A Bit About the Costume:

Well, it is basically an Irish bus inspector’s uniform, circa 1960s. It consists of a peaked cap, dark blue suit with double breasted blazer, and a long duster coat.

Why Is It a Favorite?

The sharpest looking bus inspector ever.

On the surface it doesn’t seem the most exciting costume. It isn’t even that old compared to other choices, but early ’60s definitely qualifies as period. The reason it is a favorite pretty much boils down to the way Mr. Malahide wears it. He completely owns this costume and absolutely, positively rocks it. He is a 100% pitch-perfect representation of an unsympathetic, heartless, bureaucratic, uniformed bully.

The long coat enhances his every swagger, and boy does this guy swagger. *Fans self.* He moves about like he’s a Wild West sheriff roaming the mean streets of….1960s Ireland. There is a part when he pulls out his notebook to take some notes on Alfie (Albert Finney) and Robbie (Rufus Sewell) where he honestly looks like he could be drawing a gun!

Oh, and the way he pulls the cap’s brim down so it draws attention to his icy blue eyes is brilliant too. Mr. Carson strikes me as someone who sees his uniform as a representation of his power, and he takes his power very, very seriously. Too seriously, actually, but that doesn’t matter since he looks so darn good.

How Would I Reimagine This Character:

He’s like a gun-slinging bus inspector. Note the rag & bone man’s horse behind him.

He is a gunslinger in an alt-verse Ireland/Wild West mashup, protecting the citizens from the lawless gangs intent on committing bus heists! Think something along the lines of Sir Terry Pratchett’s adorable Wild West sheepboy tales set in Wales (found in The Witches Vacuum Cleaner and Other Stories) or maybe Desperate Dan. Cactusville was awfully British for a Wild West town, after all. 🙂

I really like the idea of a displaced gunslinger / bus inspector roaming the Irish streets with the same intensity and daring-do of Bat Masterson or Wyatt Earp. It would be brilliant, and Mr. Carson is more than steely-eyed enough to pull it off. 🙂

RFodchuk:  And my choices are…

Sir Francis Walsingham
(“Elizabeth I“, 2005)

A Bit About the Costume:

Sir Francis Walsingham is all business in basic black

Sir Francis Walsingham is all business in basic black

Sir Francis Walsingham is Elizabeth the First’s (Helen Mirren) principal secretary.  He’s also her spymaster – a relatively new role at the time – who had a large part in keeping her on her throne in the face of many threats.  He knows everything about everything when it comes to political manoeuvring and secrets, dirty or otherwise.  He’s soft-spoken and unobtrusive most of the time, not flashy, yet utterly ruthless when he needs to be.  Unlike most other gentlemen of Elizabeth’s court, he dresses in a very austere, practical, plain fashion.  This is especially evident when you see him next to the flashier types, like the Earls of Leicester or Essex, or indeed the Queen herself.  But she’s supposed to be flashy.

His costume consists of a black skullcap and a long, black mantle or gown over top of a black tunic and breeches.  Unlike the rest of Elizabeth’s court, he has eschewed a huge starched ruff in favour of a plain collar, although period paintings of Sir Francis show him in a ruff.  Personally, I like the stylistic choice to go with the collar.  His only ornamentation is a row of gold buttons down the front and some velvet accents.

Why Is It a Favourite?

Spot the raven amongst the peacocks.

Spot the raven amongst the peacocks.

I like this costume because despite getting the sense that Sir Francis is trying to disappear into the background, it actually makes him stand out all the more.  He’s a raven amongst a bunch of very flashy peacocks.  Oh sure, Burghley (Ian McDiarmid) wears black too, but he also adds on a big, gold chain of office and a huge ruff.  You get the impression Sir Francis has no time for any such frivolities.  Basic black with (literally) no frills just fits Sir Francis’ personality and his role in Elizabeth’s court extremely well.  You get the impression he can do a lot of soundless gliding around as he gathers secrets.  Also, the costume and goatee suit Mr. Malahide extremely well, too.  He looks simply smashing.

How Would I Reimagine This Character?

Playing Good Cop to an assassin who tried to kill the Queen

Playing Good Cop to an assassin who tried to kill the Queen

Well, it’s hard to think of Sir Francis being anyone but who he is, in the milieu he’s currently in.  But I suspect he’d make a great comic book villain – or anti-villain, whose purposes appear villainous at first but actually have something very benevolent at their core, except that of course he can’t tell anyone about it because it has to be kept secret in order to succeed.  He’s got the comic book Dutch angles worked out already, too.

Fearless Admin has also mentioned that Sir Francis looks like he’d make an excellent vampire slayer, and I have to agree with her.  He’d have no problem lurking about as he stalked his prey, waiting  for them to return to their coffins before he staked them.  Then he’d very pragmatically take a nap and go about his day job.

Robert Dangerfield
(“The Blackheath Poisonings“, 1992)

A Bit About the Costume:

He looks fairly harmless, doesn't he?

He looks fairly harmless, doesn’t he?

Dangerfield is a Victorian “gentleman” (okay, he’s really more of a cad) who has fallen on hard times when we first see him.  This is reflected in his somewhat shabby look; he badly needs a haircut, his bowler is visibly worn, and his jacket doesn’t fit – not to mention that bookies all across London are ready to beat him up for what he owes them.  In fact, Dangerfield would never have returned to the U.K. at all, if he didn’t think Charlotte Collard (Zoë Wanamaker), a wealthy spinster he previously wooed then dropped like a hot rock many years before, would easily succumb to his charms once again and relieve him of his debts.  Mind you, Dangerfield doesn’t wear this costume for long in the series; his wardrobe quickly gets an upgrade after he insinuates himself back into Charlotte’s good graces.

Why is It a Favourite?

Being shown off to the family after a bit of a spruce-up.

Being shown off to the family after a bit of a spruce-up.

To be accurate, Dangerfield has several costumes in “The Blackheath Poisonings” that I like, so it’s hard to pick just one.  I like his scruffy “street wastrel” look as seen above, because it’s so reflective of what he actually is.  Despite his scruffiness, he still has a huge amount of self-confidence when it comes to his ability to woo Charlotte.  But I like his later costumes even better, when he’s obviously had the benefit of going to the haberdasher and tailor – using Charlotte’s money, of course.  He just about visibly preens when showing off his new wardrobe to Charlotte’s family.  He looks good and he knows it.  And judging by all the costume changes he has in the series, Dangerfield didn’t stint on his purchases.  His clothes are impeccably tailored, and he (and Mr. Malahide) wears them extremely well.  If I had to pick an ultimate favourite, it would be the long, black coat with Persian lamb collar and silk top hat he wears to see off Isabel Collard (Christine Kavanagh) at the train station (see below).

How Would I Reimagine This Character?

They look ready for a global adventure.

They look ready for a global adventure.

Well, Dangerfield is an out-and-out cad who has only just barely reformed (by force), so you’d think he’d fit in nearly anywhere.  However, I do like the thought of him finally managing to pry himself free of the Collards and Vandervents – despite Charlotte knowing all his tricks and being ready for them – and setting off on some big, treasure-hunting adventure, preferably with Isabel.  I could see the two of them globe-trotting around as amateur archaeologists raiding tombs and whatnot, all while staying one step ahead of Dangerfield’s creditors… and Charlotte’s lawyers.  He might even give up his caddish ways for Isabel, especially if she rescues him from a jam or two.

Admin:  And those are our choices…for now.  As mentioned earlier, Mr. Malahide has worn several great historical costumes, so we’ll probably revisit this topic.

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