Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I Need My Fix!

Ah, things haven't been too active here lately in terms of things British, mysteries or otherwise. But I felt that I needed to post something, after this two-week absence.

I revisited an old favorite when I watched Joan Hickson's Miss Marple: A Murder Is Announced (1985). In my modest opinion, I think this adaptation is the best - the casting in particular is just inspired. My favorites among many are Elaine Ives-Cameron as cook Hannah (ever-boastful of her cake-baking skills), Ursula Howells as Letitia Blacklock, Renee Asherson as Letty's friend Dora Bunner, John Castle as Inspector Craddock, and Kevin Whately as Detective Sergeant Fletcher.

As you can see, there are some recognizable names in this cast, as well as faces. Kevin Whately is well-known for his long-standing role as Detective Sergeant (now Inspector) Lewis in Inspector Morse, as well as its spin-off Lewis. Whately also appeared in The English Patient. David Collings, who played the Reverend Harmon in A Murder is Announced, may be recognizable (sort of as he appears in face paint) as Mawdryn in Peter Davison's Doctor Who episode Mawdryn Undead, as well as Poul in Tom Baker/Leela's episode The Robots of Death and as Vorus in Tom Baker/Sarah Jane Smith's episode Revenge of the Cybermen.

Joan Sims, who played Miss Murgatroyd, is instantly recognizable as Rocky's wife Madge Hardcastle (Rock On!) in As Time Goes By. Samantha Bond, who played Julia Simmons, is coincidentally the latest incarnation of Miss Moneypenny in the James Bond franchise, during Pierce Brosnan's era.

I've also been watching my British comedies on television - Last of the Summer Wine, As Time Goes By, Keeping Up Appearances, and Are You Being Served. Next up for me, movie-by-mail-wise, is the second half of Patrick Troughton's Doctor Who episode The Invasion. I don't see much in the way of movies opening this holiday weekend - perhaps if you are a Jason Statham and/or action film fan, you can check out Transporter 3.

That's all for right now. It's nice to start blogging again.

[Photo of Kevin Whately is from The Sun, photo of David Collings is from Monkey Dubbing, photo of Joan Sims is from Musical, and photo of Samantha Bond is from James Bond 007::MI6 - The Home of James Bond]

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Little Time...

For any treasured reader who has taken time to read this blog, and my other one, firstly thank you so, so much! But due to unforeseen circumstances, I need to take a temporary hiatus from posting. But please keep checking back every now and again - I'm not for certain when I shall be able to return to regular posting. It may not be until December. But in the meantime, please click on any of my lovely links for great reads and pictures. Thanks again and take great care!

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Family On The Boards Make For Uneasy Bedfellows

Say hi to my jaunty hat. I bought it at Banana Republic ages ago, but it recently re-surfaced after a lengthy time in my closet. I wore it to Whole Foods about 2 weeks ago, browsing incognito, so to speak. And I thought about it yesterday as I watched Agatha Troy wearing her jaunty hat in the Inspector Alleyn mystery Final Curtain.

Final Curtain was one of those cozy, drawing room-type murder mysteries played out in a family castle somewhere in the countryside, populated by a gaggle of dependent relatives of a pompous, domineering personality - the papa and grandpapa head of the household and the male authority figure. The fact that practically all of the occupants of said grand manor home have something to do with the dramatic arts [a theatrical family this is] adds to the eccentric charm of this episode. Think ham, and plenty of it.

The regulars all shine here, as always - Patrick Malahide as Inspector Alleyn, William Simons as Bre'er Fox, and Belinda Lang as painter Agatha Troy [she's my idol]. Some of the co-stars that I took note of included Graham Crowden as the easily-riled, iron-fisted patriarch Sir Henry Ancred. What an annoyingly lovable coot he was in Waiting For God.

Like countless times before, I recognized an actor's face but had no clue where from or, of course what his name might be. I now know Sir Henry's son Thomas Ancred is actor Peter Blythe, whom I remembered from David Suchet's Poirot episode One, Two, Buckle My Shoe. He was also murder suspect Captain Bingo Hale in my beloved Tommy & Tuppence: Partners in Crime episode Finessing the King, and appeared as 'Soapy Sam' Ballard in Rumpole of the Bailey [which I really do need to see but haven't yet]. He and actress Harriet Walter, who portrayed Harriet Vane in the Lord Peter Whimsey series, were romantically linked until his death in 2004; incidentally, she's the niece of Saruman himself Christopher Lee.

Another familiar face which I couldn't place was that of Eleanor Bron, who plays dutiful daughter-in-law Millamant Ancred. Lo and behold, she has a screamingly long filmography - she's been quite busy indeed. I'm sure I must have seen her in Doctor Who's Revelation of the Daleks and in Yes, Minister but I really remember her as Patsy Stone's creepy mother, in all of those flashback scenes in Absolutely Fabulous - 'take it away...and bring me another lover...' Yikes! Bron was also the female art fiend, her head swathed in a flowing purple turban, alongside John Cleese, who mistakes the Tardis for a piece of 'exquisite' art in that famous scene in Doctor Who's City of Death.

[Photo of Graham Crowden is from BBC Programs and photo of Eleanor Bron is from Sir John Soane's Museum]

Friday, November 7, 2008

Brrr, It'll Be Cold Outside

Although it's not quite scarf and hat weather here in North Texas, it is time to start dreaming of cold temperatures to come. And as you begin thinking about it, you need to look at some lovely pictures of cold-weather clothing to get you in the mood.

There is no better place for such inspiration than Cabbages & Roses, from which all of the photos below are derived:

I love this jacket. And I like how the plaid pattern of the jacket totally goes with the delicate floral print of the shirt, although it's not supposed to! The idea of patterns or colors clashing is old news. Be free, be whimsical.

Love the hat and the fingerless gloves that seem to be everywhere these days. So cozy and warm.

The trapeze dress, the oversized [so roomy] coat with that flair! My heavens above, this is me to a T.

Adorable little shirt/apron/pinafore/jumper? I don't know what to call it but it sure looks darling.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Design on a Trillion Dimes

I was surfing Architectural Digest's website for some design inspiration, not for any particular project, but just to see some pretty pictures. As holiday season rears its pretty little head, things like home, decorating, and entertaining just seem more relevant.

You can't fail to notice all of the shop windows decorated merrily for the holidays, and sure enought, all of that 'window dressing' does put me in a more joyful mood. Then I begin to imagine that I live in, or close to, Manhatten where department store window displays are competitive works of art, design, and technology - of epic proportions. I don't know, but wouldn't it be grand to see them up close?

Anyway these pics I've rounded up aren't particularly Christmas-y or oozing with holiday cheer. They're just pretty, with pleasing architecture and are well-furnished/decorated. Definitely fodder for inspiration galore, if only I had a trillion dimes to spare. Or perhaps even a zillion-trillion-kabillion? That may be more like...

[Photos are all from Architectural Digest. Photo at top is by Andrew Tworte, middle photo is by Durston Saylor, and photo at bottom is by Andrew Twort]

Monday, November 3, 2008

H is for Hetty, H is for Hyacinth

On Saturday night, I watched Hetty Wainthropp Investigates with Patricia Routledge, one of my most favorite actors, and young Dominic Monaghan, pre-Lord of the Rings. I love this series to no end, not because of their idyllic English village/countryside scenery [because that's not really their style], but because of Ms. Routledge herself. She bears a comforting presence as Hetty, totally unlike her pretentious characterization of Mrs. Hyacinth Bucket.

It's funny how both Routledge's famous tv characters' names start with an H, and how her tv-husbands' names start with an R. But those are the only similarities you'll find between Hetty and Hyacinth. In fact, God help Hyacinth if she ever started fussing around with Hetty!

Hetty is a well-grounded woman with no airs about her. Even with her down-to-earth personality, she has a tendency to be intuitive, taking on cases that peak her curiousity or that strike a certain chord with her, perhaps those that tug at her heartstrings. Meanwhile, it's often her husband Robert who keeps his eye on the monetary attributes of a potential case, taking on cases from people he thinks can pay out big, judging from the style of stationary used to correspond with them, for example, as he does in the episode Poison Pen [much to his regret].

I like the fact that each mystery doesn't involve murder, for instance the episode Lost Chords was about revenge through nobbling. During these cold months upcoming, watching Hetty and her assistant young Geoffrey [and sometimes Robert her husband], arrive in strange villages, bundled up because of the blistering weather, and nosy about to help their clients is an excellent way to spend an evening. I highly suggest it.

In an aside, watch out for young Geoffrey, real name Dominic Monaghan, next year around May in the X-Men prequel X-Men Origins: Wolverine as Blackwing.

[Photo of Hetty and Geoffrey is from Michael Kleinschrodt at The Times-Picayune]