Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Making Another Connection

I really enjoyed the movie Gosford Park (2001). It had mystery, a lovely 1930s setting, and a formidable cast of characters. The talented cast reads like a Who's Who of acting royalty. They include Maggie Smith and Michael Gambon, before they guarded Hogwarts together, as well as Kristin Scott Thomas, Charles Dance, Bob Balaban, James Wilby, a younger Lawrence Fox, Stephen Fry, Clive Owen, Emily Watson, and Helen Mirren. Wow!

The screenwriter, and associate producer, of Gosford Park is Julian Fellowes. He won an Oscar for his work and followed that triumph up almost a decade later, although there were other successes along the way, with another upstairs/downstairs drama, a little show called Downton Abbey.

Julian Fellowes

The wildly popular Downton Abbey is Fellowes' creation and has made his name more recognizable here in the United States. While I recognized his name, I could not do the same with his face. But while I had seen Fellowes before, it wasn't in awards shows or tv interviews. It was on a charming television show called Monarch of the Glen.

Julian Fellowes played Angus, Lord Kilwillie, for several seasons. He was a comic character who was the best friend and nemesis of Hector MacDonald, played by the late Richard Briers. Monarch of the Glen began in 2000, so Fellowes was acting on the show while he was receiving accolades for his writing. If he can dance, he could definitely be considered a triple threat.

Fellowes with the cast of Monarch of the Glen

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Some Enchanted Evening

I had been wanting to see the 1992 movie Enchanted April for some time now. As you can see, it has taken me more than two decades to finally watch this glorious film, but my, was it worth the wait.

This enchanting {pardon} story takes place in two vastly different locales. The beginning of the film takes place in gray, rainy England, where the atmosphere is stifling for the two main characters, played by Josie Lawrence and Miranda Richardson, on both a physical and emotional level.

Josie Lawrence

Miranda Richardson

When they flee to Italy for a holiday, their environment is suddenly transformed into a heavenly landscape, and all of the characters begin to transform in magical, positive ways. These transformations of body, mind and spirit, within the breathtaking confines of Portofino, Italy, where the movie was partly filmed, are heartening to witness.

Portofini, Italy


Rounding out this top-notch cast are Polly Walker, who is married to the brother of Rupert Penry-Jones {look here}, Joan Plowright, Michael Kitchen {also look here}, Alfred Molina and Jim Broadbent.

Polly Walker

Joan Plowright

Michael Kitchen

Alfred Molina

Jim Broadbent

For those of us in the U.S., tonight is the summer's first episode of Inspector Lewis!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Summertime, Masterpiece Mystery-Style

Summer is in full swing in many parts of the country. If sweltering heat and humidity isn't your cup of tea, stay cool inside and cozy up in front of the TV with your favorite snacks and tune in to PBS. It's time for new episodes of Masterpiece Mystery.

Up first is one of my favorites, Inspector Lewis. Some of the notable guest stars in Season 7 are Peter Davison and Edward Fox, uncle of Lawrence Fox, who plays DS Hathaway.

Lawrence Fox and Kevin Whately

Peter Davison

Edward Fox

 Next up is a new series called Endeavor, a prequel to Inspector Morse, which spun-off the Inspector Lewis series. The series is set in the swinging 1960s with Shaun Evans playing a young Endeavor Morse, before he became Inspector Morse. I'm excited to watch this show because I really enjoy the Morse/Lewis universe, and I'm also looking forward to the 60's style.

Shaun Evans

Tuppence Middleton, who can also be seen in an episode of this summer's Inspector Lewis, also headlines a new adaptation of The Lady Vanishes. I am a big fan of the 1938 Hitchcock-directed film, and am looking forward to this as well. It also co-stars Gemma Jones, Keeley Hawes and Stephanie Cole.

Tuppence Middleton

Gemma Jones

Keeley Hawes

Stephanie Cole

A modern legal drama follows called Silk. Not sure I'm going to watch this as I'm not a huge fan of shows about law and lawyers, although I did watch my fair share of L.A. Law back in the day.  Silk stars Maxine Peake and Rupert Penry-Jones.

Maxine Peake

Rupert Penry-Jones

This summer's Masterpiece Mystery season winds up with the charming Michael Kitchen and Honeysuckle Weeks in Foyle's War. Co-stars include Tamzin Outhwaite.

Michael Kitchen

Honeysuckle Weeks

Tamzin Outhwaite

Get the whole schedule on PBS' website. Happy viewing!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Like Mother, Like Daughter...and Son

Has it really been 5 years? I've been thinking that it's about time to put my British musings and perusings out there again, so let's jump right in...

Many years ago, I watched the Agatha Christie: Poirot episode "Five Little Pigs" (2003) starring my favorite Poirot, David Suchet. It wasn't until some time later that I made a connection about members of its supporting cast.

In "Five Little Pigs", Rachael Stirling plays Caroline Crale, a wife hanged for poisoning her husband. It turns out that Stirling is the daughter of Dame Diana Rigg, famous for her roles as Emma Peel in The Avengers and Mrs. Adela Bradley in The Mrs. Bradley Mysteries, among many others.
Rachael Stirling

a young Diana Rigg

mother and daughter

Back to the cast of "Five Little Pigs", Toby Stephens plays Philip Blake, a man who pines for Caroline. In reality, Stephens is the son of Dame Maggie Smith, who is quite well-known today as the Dowager Countess of Grantham in Downton Abbey and Professor Minerva McGonagall in the Harry Potter series. But I will always remember her first and foremost as Dora Charleston in the 1976 gem Murder by Death.

Toby Stephens

a young Maggie Smith

Stirling and Stephens in Five Little Pigs

Now my a-ha moment came when I realized that there was a Poirot connection that ties the mothers of co-stars Rachael Stirling and Toby Stephens together, just as it does their offspring. Diana Rigg and Maggie Smith were part of the all-star cast in the luxurious 1982 production of Evil Under the Sun, starring Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poirot. Alongside Jane Birkin and Roddy McDowall, Rigg and Smith shared magical screen time together. When the cameras weren't rolling, perhaps the two ladies took in the sights of Majorca, Spain with Smith's then 13-year old son Toby and Riggs' then 5-year old daughter Rachael.

on the set of Evil Under the Sun

For those of you who are fans of Stargate SG-1, the wife of Toby Stephens happens to be Anna-Louise Plowman, a familiar face who played Dr. Sarah Gardner, a colleague of Daniel Jackson's, who was taken over by the scary-voiced Goa'uld Osiris.

Stephens with wife Plowman

Until next time....