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Jane Austen Revisited- Best and Worst

28 Apr

Now that I’ve finished all the Jane Austen stuff, I decided I would go back over the books and adaptations and list my favorites and least favorites (AKA I’m bored out of my mind and I have nothing else to do right now). This is just for fun.

Book Rankings:

  1. Persuasion
  2. Emma
  3. Pride and Prejudice
  4. Sense and Sensibility
  5. Mansfield Park
  6. Northanger Abbey

Favorite Heroines: Anne Elliot, Elinor Dashwood, Fanny Price

Least Favorite Heroine: Catherine Morland

Favorite Heroes: Henry Tilney, George Knightley, Frederick Wentworth

Least Favorite Hero: Edward Ferrars

Top Five Adaptations:

  1. Persuasion 1995
  2. Pride and Prejudice 2005
  3. Sense and Sensibility 2008
  4. Emma 2009
  5. Mansfield Park 1983

Bottom Four Adaptations:

  1. Mansfield Park 1999
  2. Persuasion 2007
  3. Northanger Abbey 1987
  4. Mansfield Park 2007

I just remembered that I never went back and reviewed Lady Susan or her two incomplete works, The Watsons and Sanditon. Crap, I’ll get to that…eventually.

Persuasion Adaptation Awards

15 Apr

It’s that time again! I can’t believe I’ve gone through all the books!

Anne Elliot: BEST- 1995 WORST-2007

Frederick Wentworth: BEST- 1995 WORST-2007

Sir Walter Elliot: BEST- 1995 WORST-1971

Elizabeth Elliot: BEST- 1971 WORST- 1995

William Elliot: BEST- 2007, WORST- 1971

Lady Russell: BEST- 1995, WORST- 1971

Mr. Musgrove: BEST- 1995, WORST-1971

Mrs. Musgrove: BEST- 1995, WORST-1971

Charles Musgrove: BEST-1995, WORST-2007

Mary Musgrove: BEST-1995, WORST-2007

Henrietta Musgrove: BEST-1995, WORST-2007

Louisa Musgrove: BEST-1995, WORST-1971

Mrs. Clay: BEST-1995, WORST-2007

Captain Harville: BEST- 1995, WORST- 2007

James Benwick: BEST-2007, WORST-1971

Admiral Croft: BEST-1995, WORST-1971

Sophy Croft: BEST-1995, WORST-2007

Mrs. Smith: BEST-1971, WORST-2007

TOTALS:

1971: BEST-2, WORST-8

1995: BEST-14, WORST-1

2007: BEST-2, WORST-9

Yay, my favorite, 1995, wins by a landslide. The other two are pretty closely tied behind. I didn’t include Mr. Shepherd, Mrs. Rooke, or Charles Hayter, because their roles are so small even in the book. And I actually liked the actor for Harville in 2007, but I didn’t like what they did with his character (got rid of his wife and made him privy to all Wentworth’s secrets).

So all my Jane Austen reviews are over! Until a new version comes out! Given how everyone likes to adapt the same books over and over, it probably won’t be long. I know there is the Modern P&P coming out (and I’ve still never seen the Mormon version) but I’m not sure if I’m interested in that because it’s a low budget production. We’ll see. Next I’m probably going to move onto the Brontes- 7 books by 3 authors, yet the great majority of the adaptations are only of two of those. You know which ones I’m talking about- Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights of course. I’m a fan of all the Brontes but my true love is Jane Austen so I’m a little sad that I’m done with those!


Persuasion 2007 Review

14 Apr

Persuasion is my favorite Jane Austen novel and just one of my favorite books of all-time. The 1995 version is one of my favorite movies. When I heard about the new ITV version coming out in 2007, I had really high hopes and couldn’t wait to see another spin on the story. And then it came out and I watched it and…let’s just say, I was not impressed.

I wanted to like it. I really did. I just watched this for the third time for the review. I was hoping that I would find more to like with each rewatch but unfortunately they had the opposite effect. I just found more things that I hated! What do I hate? Just the script, the cast, and the direction. So yeah, um…pretty much everything. Was there anything I liked about it? Well, the music was nice and the cinematography was pretty (aside from the overuse of shaky cam). And a couple of the side characters were well-acted. Hmm…that’s about it!

The adaptation suffers first of all from being too short. It just feels so truncated and rushed and so many of my favorite bits from the book were left out or just ruined. It didn’t seem like the creators cared about the story at all. With only a couple exceptions, I hated the cast. I don’t know if the actors or the writing or directing are to blame, but the performances left a lot to be desired. Everything just felt off. I tried not to compare it too much to the 1995 version and even though I couldn’t help but do that at some points, I just hate this version on its own. Whatever you do, don’t accuse me of disliking it only because of the 1995 version. While it certainly pales in comparison to that version, my hate stems from this just being a poor adaptation of the book, and a poor movie in itself.

The Characters

Sally Hawkins as Anne Elliot

A huge disappointment. First of all, her hair was always tightly slicked back with a thick layer of grease. You can’t make the “historically accurate” argument because NONE OF THE OTHER CHARACTERS HAS GREASY HAIR. And at first I thought it would be like this to be a big contrast for when she gets back her bloom after Lyme, but she doesn’t! She finally has a better hairstyle at the very end but it’s too late. Anne is supposed to be pretty and Sally Hawkins is usually good-looking, but they made her look gross in this for some reason! She also played the character as a total wimp who was always crying over Wentworth. For heaven’s sake,  Anne was not THAT depressed! She also writes in a diary as a way to tell the viewers her thoughts and often looks right at the camera. That reminded me of MP 99 and I’m not a fan!

Rupert Penry-Jones as Frederick Wentworth

He’s really good-looking, but I can’t believe with that perfect, pale, unblemished complexion, he was at sea for the last eight years. Right…His character also was given pretty much nothing interesting to do in this. Pretty flat and boring so I’m not sure why everyone was crazy over him. Dull as dishwater, if you ask me.

Alice Krige as Lady Russell

One of the few decent performances in the whole movie! For some reason it comes as a total surprise to her in the beginning that Sir Walter is in debt and the Elliots will have to leave Kellynch.

Anthony Head as Sir Walter Elliot

They did something different with his character from the usual foppish buffoon. He was actually a bit more menacing. He’s still vain but he shouts a lot and I think I would be really afraid of him if I were Anne!

Julia Davis as Elizabeth Elliot

This actress’s performance was by no means bad (certainly an improvement from the way the 1995 character) but she was just way too old. She looked almost as if she could be Anne’s mother rather than an older (by only two years!) sister. And she was in a terrible wig too.

Mary Stockley as Penelope Clay

Who is this pretty young woman? Surely not Mrs. Clay? You’ve gotta be joking, right?

Tobias Menzies as William Elliot

He was actually another decent one. While I think Sam West gave a good performance, he didn’t have the right look. This guy is much more attractive.

Nicholas Farrell and Stella Gonet as Mr. and Mrs. Musgrove

Thankfully the line about their largeness was left out, as they’re both so slim. I actually liked the little bit of them we saw in this. But it was just a little bit.

Sam Hazeldine and Amanda Hale as Charles and Mary Musgrove

I hope this picture gives a good idea of the impression I got from them. Mary was easily the worst performance out of the lot. In fact, probably one of the worst acting performances I’ve ever seen. She made Mary seem mentally deranged in some way, always twitching and jerking her body about. Her delivery was horrible- like a warped imitation of Sophie Thompson. I don’t know what they were going for here. And Charles just seemed like a dunderhead. I doubt he even realized Mary was only faking sick!

Rosamund Stephen and Jennifer Higham as Henrietta and Louisa Musgrove

These two were okay, but they didn’t come to life for me the way they did in 1995. Henrietta seemed to like Wentworth but there was never any question of her wavering on her understanding with Charles Hayter (he’s never seen).

Joseph Mawle as Harry Harville

Yes, they gave him the name Harry in this one. (Just wait till you see what they named another character!) He is entirely in Wentworth’s confidence here and already knows about Anne when they first meet. Wentworth indeed makes all his intentions absolutely clear to Harville throughout the story so nothing comes as a surprise. For some reason he appears to be a bachelor in this, so I was surprised none of the ladies went after him, given how handsome he was!

Finlay Robertson as James Benwick

This is one of the few bits of casting I preferred to 1995. He is more age appropriate to the character. His part was really small and unfortunately the majority of it was in one great butchering of a scene. Namely, the constancy conversation. Yes, for some reason in this version, Anne has the talk with him at Lyme and Wentworth is clearly out of earshot. WTF???

Marion Bailey and Peter Wight as the Crofts

Are those Wentworth’s parents in there? Oh, those are the Crofts…hmmm. The Crofts here never seem to get as close to Anne as they do in the book or other versions and not as much emphasis is made on their happy marriage.

Maisie Dimbleby as Harriet Smith

Yes, you read that right- they actually called her Harriet Smith in this. Was that supposed to be an in-joke? I certainly didn’t laugh at that or the incomprehensible scene she has at the end either. Just you wait. Her backstory with Mr. Elliot was cut as well.

WTF? Scenes, AKA Stuff I Hated

This version is full of several scenes that just made me cry out WTF or scratch my head in confusion. I’ve already mentioned the constancy conversation at Lyme, but there are plenty more!

The Opening Scene

Anne is rushing around Kellynch apparently taking inventory of items that the servants are packing up. She doesn’t really seem to be writing anything though, just scratching the pen on the page at random intervals. She runs out of ink and there just happens to be a servant conveniently standing in the corner with an inkwell for a refill. WTF? Was the servant just made to stand there all day, hoping that someone would walk by in need of ink? I don’t understand.

Anne the Surgeon

When little Charles dislocates his collar bone, Anne rushes to help, despite being in the middle of changing for the party. She doesn’t seem to be the least bit embarrassed to be seen in her underwear in front of Charles and his father and none of them seems to care either! Then the worst happens: with Mr. Musgrove’s assistance, she sets little Charles’s collar bone, in her underwear! WTF? Since when has Anne had medical training? They couldn’t wait for the apothecary? She couldn’t have put some clothes on?

Rest Assured, Charles is not a Bigamist

When Wentworth asks Louisa when Charles proposed to Anne, she can only reply, “I do not exactly know, but before he married Mary.” Wow, thanks for clearing that up, Louisa! I’m sure Wentworth was thinking that it was AFTER he married Mary and that sneaky Charles was trying to commit bigamy. WTF?

Wentworth “Helping” Anne into the Carriage

The scene where Wentworth helps Anne into the Crofts’ gig is supposed to be a really touching moment and makes Anne think that perhaps he still notices and cares for her a bit after all. Not here. He doesn’t covertly tell them to take Anne, they just ask to take her for some reason. Then he plops her down “like a sack of potatoes,” to quote Julie. It looks quite uncomfortable for both parties and not romantic at all! Also for some reason, she’s behind the Crofts and so it doesn’t feel like she’s quite included to me.

Louisa’s Fall

The whole direction of this scene was off. You don’t see the fall at all. The helplessness and desperation the other characters besides Anne exhibit in the book is gone and everyone rushes to her aid, even Mary. It seems that Anne’s cool head in a time of crisis was not even really needed. She does tell Benwick to get the surgeon and Wentworth to press his cravat against the wound, which is actually bleeding. However, he was already in the process of doing that, so I don’t know why she needed to tell him. Afterwards, there is no crying or hysterics and everyone only seems mildly upset by the situation. WTF?

Mrs. Smith’s Miraculous Recovery!

Yes, that is Mrs. Smith walking with Anne. Wow, either Mrs. Rooke is a miracle worker or the Bath waters really do have healing powers! She made it just in time to tell Anne of Mr. Elliot’s devious plans. He even planned to make Mrs. Clay his mistress after being married to Anne!

The Bath Marathon

Probably the worst scene in the whole adaptation is the Bath Marathon. They truly butchered the ending. First Anne tells Wentworth that she is not engaged to Mr. Elliot and he leaves the house. Anne is interrupted by Mrs. Musgrove and Henrietta. Despite being only FEW SECONDS behind, Wentworth is nowhere to be seen when she goes outside. Naturally Anne thinks the logical thing to do is to run all over the city like a chicken with her head cut off and just happens to run into Mrs. Smith (see above). Wentworth is no longer at his lodgings when she gets there, but somehow had time to stop and write THE LETTER, which he entrusted to Harville. Anne reads the letter as she runs to find the Crofts, because Wentworth left to take the waters with them. Yet when she reaches the Crofts, they say he’s gone back to her house! She finally reaches him outside the house where he’s casually chatting with Charles. WTF????? Never mind how out of character and inappropriate Anne running all over the streets of Bath is, the scene just doesn’t make any sense! How did Anne not bump into Wentworth anywhere? How did he have time to go home, write the letter, go out with the Crofts, and make it back to Anne’s house without breaking a sweat while Anne is running for her life? Does he have super-human speed? Then to top things off, he and Anne come to an understanding and share a disgusting, drawn-out kiss as Anne is sweaty and panting from the run and Wentworth won’t even bend down all the way to kiss her. WTF??

The Ending

Wentworth BUYS KELLYNCH as a wedding present for Anne. WTF? Kellynch is entailed on Mr. Elliot! And there’s no way Wentworth’s fortune was enough to pay off Sir Walter’s debts and buy the estate. You’ve got to be kidding me! If we put all the WTF-ness aside, it would actually be a sweet scene. Anne has finally washed her hair and it looks much more flattering. The two share a nice kiss this time and then dance. I don’t know if it was period correct for them to waltz or not, but it would have been really a romantic ending, since Anne had given up dancing. Except wait, they never included the lines about Anne giving up dancing! What an opportunity they missed!

Conclusions

RAWR! This last viewing made me want to turn into the Hulk almost as badly as MP 1999. It had such potential but it was all wasted. In some parts it seemed like they were copying 1995, and in others it was as if they were trying too hard to be different. I just don’t understand. I would actually rank this in my bottom five Austen adaptations, sadly. Even the 1971 version, dull as it was, was better than this.


My Rating:  4/10
, for the few decent performances and good music.

Persuasion 1995 Review

8 Apr

The 1995 Persuasion movie is not only my favorite adaptation of that particular book, it’s one of my top five Jane Austen adaptations. And one of my favorite period movies. And just one of my favorite movies! It’s just that good. The cast is excellent. I love the look and feel of realism it has too, similar to the 2005 Pride and Prejudice and Bright Star movies- realistic lighting, no makeup, messy  hair, etc.

Every adaptation has its flaws, and I guess I should just get them out of the way beforehand. This film contains one big historical error! The sailors often go about in their naval uniforms. While this looks really nice on screen, it is actually not accurate. As we know from Mansfield Park, these uniforms could only be seen while the officers were on duty. Probably most casual viewers wouldn’t know this and it’s cool to see them though. Another issue that doesn’t really bother me in particular is the somewhat lacking exposition. I feel a little bit, that this movie was written with book fans in mind. If you weren’t already familiar with the story, you might find it a bit confusing, especially in the beginning, what was going on between Anne and Wentworth. As I said, I had no problem following anything but since I had already read the book that doesn’t really mean much.

The casting is admittedly not perfect. Many of the actors are a bit too old, but nothing jarring like in 1971. Their brilliant performances more than made up for this- with one big exception. I’ll get into it below. Both the canceled and actual ending of the book were used. Some liked the addition, but I could take it or leave it, personally. Some of the other changes from the book may have worked as just a movie, but were lacking for me as an adaptation. Actually, I can say that about pretty much everything- there’s nearly nothing in this movie that I don’t like as just a movie. The one exception is the letter scene- it’s very well done but for one thing- it’s so hard to hear it! First it’s Wentworth’s voice, and then Annes, and overlapping, and it’s just hard to make out. The letter still makes me swoon and if I hadn’t read it so many times already, I would be very annoyed with these scene!

The Characters

Amanda Root as Anne Elliot (before)

I loved Amanda Root as Anne. She’s still my favorite to have played the part. In the beginning she was a bit more timid and quiet and it reflected in her look. She was a bit worn-out. When she sees Wentworth again for the first time, she makes no signs of her nervousness except for gripping the back of a chair. I love all the understated moments like that in this film!  Then as her confidence grew, she developed more of a healthy glow. This follows the book and I love how subtly and gradually it was done.

Anne After

There was no drastic makeover yet you can see the difference in her hairstyle and wardrobe, the way she carries herself, and the sparkle in her eyes. One negative I have is making her a bit too outspoken. She says the line about Mrs. Smith not being the only widow in Bath with no surname of dignity out loud, to her father. In the book she tactfully refrained from speaking these words! I guess they felt this was the only way to get the message across, but I felt it was out of character.

Ciaran Hinds as Frederick Wentworth

He wore that uniform so well; it’s a shame it’s not true to period. He is also my favorite Wentworth. He’s not conventionally handsome by any means but he’s attractive in a rugged sort of way (you could buy him as a sailor!). He also has charm and charisma that made him appealing to everyone. He played Wentworth’s love for Anne beautifully- he tries to hide it and act indifferently in the beginning but eventually he can’t suppress it anymore. Even as early on as Uppercross, he can’t help but notice her lagging behind during the long walk and so quietly asks the Crofts to give Anne a ride the rest of the way back. The scene with him helping her into the gig is another of those “swoonworthy” moments.

Susan Fleetwood as Lady Russell

She gave a good performance as Lady Russell- she showed her loving side to Anne yet she still was actually a bit of a snob, valuing rank and position much more than Anne does. Unfortunately she died of cancer shortly after filming.

Corin Redgrave as Sir Walter Elliot

This adaptation also has my favorite Sir Walter! He is perfectly proud, vain, and buffoonish. He’s such a joke but he doesn’t realize it. His outfit in the screencap looks like upholstery! One thing I did not like was the ending when Wentworth announced their engagement, he stupidly asks “Whatever for?” A bit over the top, even for Sir Walter.

Phoebe Nicholls as Elizabeth Elliot

Well, I said there was one big exception to the wonderful cast- and this is it. Let me just get one thing out of the way- I have nothing against Phoebe Nicholls’ s actual acting of the role- she does a great job with what she’s given. The problem is, what she was given was not the character of the book! Elizabeth is supposed to be proud, haughty, and cold- yet proper, fitting her position. This Elizabeth is rude, slouches, shouts, and is just waaaay over the top. The film-makers just went too far in trying to show what an awful character she is. It works as just a film, but not as an adaptation.

Felicity Dean as Mrs. Clay

I loved this Mrs. Clay. She was not very good-looking and especially dowdy in the beginning, yet after Bath she began to dress more carefully and wear evening gowns that showed off her “assets” to attract Sir Walter. You also see signs of her with Mr. Elliot but it’s never explained. The scene from the screencap is hilarious. The Elliots and Lady Russell are presented to Lady Dalrymple and Miss Carteret (ridiculous caricatures) and Mrs. Clay is tacked awkwardly on the end, a little too eager apparently.

Samuel West as Mr. Elliot

Many people don’t seem to be fans of his portrayal but I thought he did a pretty good job. He’s a fine actor, but I do have to admit that he hasn’t quite the look for the role. Mr. Elliot is supposed to be really good-looking and while West is by no means unattractive, there’s something about his look that bothers me. His rat-like features make him look automatically suspicious. His backstory was unfortunately changed, and it didn’t really make much sense, honestly. Instead of being rich  but wanting to make sure he got the title and position, he’s poor and wants the money. Just one problem…what money? The film makes it clear the extent of Sir Walter’s debts! It doesn’t really make any sense.

Sophie Thompson as Mary Musgrove

Sophie Thompson as Mary is one of my favorite performances in any Jane Austen adaptation. She so perfectly plays the whiny hypochondriac. 1971’s Mary was good too but Thompson’s acting is more natural. I love the scene where she’s telling Anne how ill she is and yet feasting on a huge ham.

Simon Russell Beale as Charles Musgrove

My favorite as the long-suffering Charles Musgrove. 1971 wasn’t bad, but again, he’s a better actor. He clearly cares for all his family and seems like a really nice guy, but he’s also obviously not Anne’s type (I sometimes wonder “what if” she hadn’t refused him).

John Woodvine and Fiona Shaw as Admiral and Mrs. Croft

I think the Admiral was a bit too old but other than that, I loved them, especially Mrs. Croft. She looked even more weather-beaten than the men! They were such a happy, cheery couple, just like in the book. For some reason they gave Sophy the line of Frederick accepting any woman between 15 and 30, which I don’t quite understand, but no big deal.

Emma Roberts as Louisa Musgrove

Her hair probably got the messiest out of anyone. She was more confident and wild than Henrietta but not quite so immature as in 1971 so it was more believable that Anne (and the other characters) would actually think she and Wentworth would end up a couple. He did seem to admire her youthful spirit. I thought the slow motion of her fall was a bit weird even though I know what they were going for.

Victoria Hamilton as Henrietta Musgrove

She was so cute in this with her girlish curls. I feel so bad for the disparaging remarks about her looks in Mansfield Park. Although Henrietta is the elder sister, Louisa is clearly the one “in charge” and helps get Henrietta and her Hayter cousin back together. He is renamed Henry in this, probably because there are so many Charleses  in this story already and as a complement to “Henrietta.”

Richard McCabe as Captain Benwick

His fiancee’s name was also changed, from Fanny to Phoebe. I kind of got the reasoning for Charles Hayter, but this I’m just confused about. Is it because of the modern dirty meaning for “fanny” in Britain? He was almost humorous with all the melancholy verses he would spout, and then seemed on the verge of even proposing to Anne, and saying he would never get over Phoebe…until we find out he gets engaged to Louisa.

Helen Schlesinger as Mrs. Smith

Her character is completely different from the book. She is a very cheerful and happy woman with no connection to Mr. Elliot. Instead, she finds out the truth about his motives through Nurse Rook, who knows all the gossip. I guess they wanted to simplify it for the limited time they had. I actually didn’t mind that, only the fact that Mr. Elliot’s motives don’t make sense!

Others

Captain and Mrs. Harville are both obviously  in it and do a good job. The Musgroves are jolly and appropriately large. The Musgrove boys are quite a bit older than in the book, where they’re only toddlers. It’s not a perfect cast, but it’s really close and I love it!

Final Thoughts

Before I say again how much I love this movie (I ended up rewatching it 3 times!), I remembered another scene that bothered me. Anne is taken to Upper Cross in a farmer’s cart instead of Lady Russell’s carriage. Really? That was stretching it quite a bit. I know Sir Walter doesn’t pay much attention to her, but he would never allow his daughter to be seen traveling in that way! And Lady Russell would never have allowed it! She couldn’t spare her carriage to go 3 miles away??

All in all, admittedly, this movie is not perfect. But it’s still a darn good movie and it’s the closest to perfection any of the adaptations of Persuasion have gotten so far.

My Rating: 10/10


Persuasion 1971 Review

6 Apr

I intended to have this miniseries watched and the review written by Sunday night, but I didn’t even get to finish watching it until last night. Oopsies. It’s “only” about four hours long but I guess I underestimated how long it would take me.

I’ve seen this adaptation twice before now. The first time I just found it a dead bore. Other than Anne’s ridiculous bee hive hairdo and green plaid dress, it didn’t leave much of an impression. The second time I tried to pay closer attention and I did find a couple things to like. This time, my opinion remained pretty much unchanged, except I was able to notice some of the changes made from the novel. You’d think with such a long run-time, it would be extremely faithful. Is it? Well, yes and no. It does follow the novel pretty closely for the most part. Unfortunately, sometimes this can lead to really boring and dull scenes that are good on paper but don’t translate that well to the screen. For example, the adaptation starts with Sir Walter reading aloud from The Baronetage as it introduces the characters he mentions. I found this a bit awkward. Who was he supposed to be reading to? Himself? And on the other hand, this version still managed to cut some things out- such as little Charles breaking his collar bone and the whole aftermath with Anne having to miss the party. I thought that was a somewhat important scene, so I was really confused when I noticed it was cut altogether.

The Characters

Ann Firbank as Anne Elliot

The only things that stood out about her were that horrible hair style and dress. None of the costumes were really that great, yet for some reason the main character has to get stuck with the worst one! And none of the other women had such a horrible hairstyle either. Definitely 1970s, not 1810s!  Her acting left something to be desired as well. For one thing, she was about ten years too old for the character and looked it. I laughed in the beginning when Lady Russell mentioned that Anne kept her good looks and figure by not marrying….Um, what? She looks like the oldest sister here. She had a little bit of Anne’s inner strength, but most of the time she just looked…maybe complacent is a good word for it. She had a slight smile, like in the above picture, all the time. Like she could never show too much emotion. So not a horrible performance, but not great either.

Bryan Marshall as Frederick Wentworth

He was decent but nothing special. He was good-looking and charming enough so you could understand why all the ladies were charmed with him. I don’t get those huge sideburns though.

Basil Dignam as Sir Walter Elliot

I found his performance (aside from the reading of the Baronetage) to be fine, but I was confused by his appearance. Wasn’t Sir Walter supposed to be a very good-looking man who doesn’t look his age? This guy was in his 60s and looked it.

Valerie Gearon as Elizabeth Elliot

She was the best thing about this adaptation for me. She gave a great portrayal of the cold, haughty, proud Elizabeth of the book. She’s beautiful and full of herself and oblivious to Mrs. Clay’s true intentions.

Morag Hood as Mary Musgrove

Her performance was pretty good. We got to see both the whiny hypochondriac side of her as well as some scenes were she’s a bit more cheerful. Thanks to the extended length of the miniseries, this lets us understand a bit more how Charles can tolerate her (compared to the later, shorter adaptations).

Marian Spencer as Lady Russell

Her acting was perfectly adequate- but I don’t remember Lady Russell being old enough to be Anne’s grandmother! She also tells Anne that she only accepted Wentworth’s proposal 8 years ago because he was the first man who had paid her such attentions. Um, what? I don’t remember anything like that in her reasoning in the book!

David Savile as William Elliot

He was okay. I really have to strain my memory to even remember him. He probably made the least impression on me than any other character in this, even the really minor ones.

Rowland Davies as Charles Musgrove

He really looked like an immature boy to me. I don’t know how old Charles was supposed to be in the book but maybe it was just Davies’ pudgy baby face.

Zhivila Roche and Mel Martin as Louisa and Henrietta Musgrove

Henrietta was pretty good, but the actress for Louisa was just a bit too over the top. She was just too immature and girlish that it was really a stretch to think that anyone would take her seriously as a potential partner for Wentworth.

Noel Dyson and William Kendall as Mrs. and Mr. Musgrove

They were both fine in their small roles but I have to mention one thing. Look at how slender Mrs. Musgrove is. Mr. Musgrove does have a bit of a gut, but is still not that huge. Yet Mary’s complaint about being squashed in the carriage with the girls because these two are apparently so large and take up too much room was left in. Um, what?

Polly Murch as Mrs. Smith

Her acting was okay, but her scenes were too drawn out.

Charlotte Mitchell as Mrs. Clay

She was just too old for the role. I don’t think Mrs. Clay is supposed to be in her 40s. I did like the addition of the scene of her and Mr. Elliot eloping- the night Elizabeth was holding a party too, haha!

Michael Culver as Captain Harville

He was adequate but I just included his picture because I thought he was good-looking.

Georgine Anderson and Richard Vernon as Sophia and Admiral Croft

The actors weren’t actually that old, but they looked older and therefore more like Wentworth’s parents than sister and brother-in-law.

?? as Captain Benwicke

Who is this mysterious man? He’s not even in the cast list on IMDB! Anyway, I thought he looked weird, like a mannequin or something, with the orange skin, weird bone structure, and the hairstyle.

Final Thoughts

I don’t know if you could tell by my less than enthusiastic comments, but this adaptation did not leave much of an impression on me. I thought it was a bit of a bore, despite liking other older adaptations. Some of the actors were good, others were bla. Some of the scenes were good, others went on too long.

My Rating: 6/10

Persuasion Book Thoughts

2 Apr

Sorry I’ve taken so long to get to this! I’ve just been so busy working extra to be able to go on vacation. Now I’m back and I want to finish my Jane Austen reviews by this week. Then I’m going to move on to other stuff.

What is my favorite Jane Austen book? Not that I don’t love them all but that honor would have to go to Persuasion. It’s more mature in tone than her other works, featuring an older heroine. Anne Elliot is 27 and has lost her bloom after being persuaded to break off her engagement to Frederick Wentworth 8 years previously. I love Anne Elliot and it’s a tough call to choose between her and Elinor Dashwood for a favorite heroine.

Unlike some of Austen’s other books, my opinion on this one hasn’t really changed at all over the years. I’ve loved it from the first time I read it and my love has only grown with each rereading. I had the impression before reading it that it would be more on the depressing side, like Mansfield Park, but it’s really not. It has the usual cast of satirical, amusing side characters, like the vane Sir Walter and snobby Elizabeth, the hypochondriac Mary, etc. I feel like it’s the most romantic of Austen’s works as well. You can feel the tension of the unspoken feelings between Anne and Wentworth throughout the whole book until it all comes out in Wentworth’s beautiful letter. It makes me swoon every time!

The only complaint I really have for this book is that it’s so short and a bit truncated. I believe Austen’s failing health made her rush things a little bit and cut out some originally planned material. IIRC, she had intended to include some more about Mr. Elliot and Mrs. Clay, but I’m okay with how it ended up.

My Rating: 10/10.

Northanger Abbey Awards

16 Mar

I haven’t been able to post any reviews lately because I’ve been so busy but I thought I’d tide you over with another “awards” edition! This one is so easy- NA 2007 wins on all counts except for Eleanor. The end!