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February 2019



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life on mars

Goggle Eyes: Fielding, Austen, Hardy

Noticing that the 1963 film of Tom Jones was on television, I recorded it to see me through a very tedious spell of neckband knitting. I was at school when I first saw this film and watching it again it was easy to see why Albert Finney was one of my teen icons. Not that he had much to do here except look handsome and attractive to women; hardly taxing for him in those days. He was absolutely dynamic on stage and everyone thought he’d be the new Olivier but he didn’t want to be. He’s had a strange career, despising honours and luvviedom; an example to lesser talents, I’d say.

Tom Jones was a brave attempt to film a long, rollicking novel and I think captures the spirit of the book quite well. It almost had two casts: the old one, Edith Evans, Hugh Griffith; the young one Finney, Susannah York and David Warner. He was another we schoolgirls admired, especially in Morgan.

I didn’t know what to expect from Lost in Austen and was more amused by it than I'd hoped. Amanda Price is a modern girl with a boorish boyfriend and a passion for losing herself in Pride and Prejudice. One day she finds Elizabeth Bennet in her bathroom, (as you do), and steps through a doorway into Elizabeth’s life. There’s plenty of opportunity for jokes; her clothes, make up, hairstyle and fondness for drinking and smoking all make her seem a decidedly odd girl to be ‘Elizabeth’s friend from Hammersmith’. Luckily, she’s picked up the speech patterns from the book but is inclined to swear at moments of stress, of which there are many.

I’ll be interested to see how it all develops because already there’s literary criticism as well as jokes. You wouldn’t normally think of Elizabeth as malicious yet here she is, stealing Amanda’s life for a while and refusing to let her return through the little doorway. Mrs Bennet is completely ruthless, Darcy really is rude. Mr Bingley, that sweet gentleman, is delighted to be snogged by Amanda and not shocked even when he finds her smoking. As Amanda says, ‘It’s all going wrong!’ Will she be able to stop it?

A strange little programme yesterday evening, The Heart of Thomas Hardy, designed to whet our appetites for the forthcoming Tess of the D’Urbervilles. This involved a lot of beautiful shots of the Dorset and Cornish countryside, some sexy girl-on-a-horse scenes and, mysteriously, Griff Rhys Jones. I can’t imagine why he was chosen as our guide, nor why he interviewed a lot of frighteningly glamorous Dorset schoolgirls about their views on Tess. What do they know? (0). I suppose it could be a useful introduction to Hardy and also a corrective to current thinking. Rhys Jones took for granted that Hardy was a great writer and his books worth reading. Surprisingly, this is quite a radical view nowadays, when everyone seems out to do Hardy down and say he was rubbish.

What I missed in this programme was, ahem, seeing Terence Stamp as Sergeant Troy.


I adored him in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning; I have been known to stand on that spot in Nottingham by the castle and think dreamily about him ...
Hee! I like him in black and white. :-) Tom Courtenay was more my type but Finney was so...physical! And terrific on stage.
Billy Liar :-)

That scene at the end at the train station ... phwoarr!

I was definitely born 25 years too late!
One of my favourite films and books! It's full of family quotes. We even went to see the musical, with Michael Crawford.

You and Sandi Thom!
Everyone is going on about Lost in Austen and I can't watch it! Boohoo!

Wow, Albert Finney looks really sexy there (not to mention Terence Stamp, of course)!

Maybe they had seen Griff doing those programmes on historic buildings and the countryside and thought, "Just the man for the job".
That's bad luck. I expect you'll get it eventually.

Finney is one of those chaps who lose their looks, unlike Stamp, who's hardly changed!

I don't mind Griff but I find his educational mode irritating. Hardy was certainly an ancient monument, so your theory may be right.