Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Midweek Matinee: Lion In Winter



British films from the 60’s fall into two camps: Those about the unsavory working class, and those about the unsavory royals.

Time has treated the former, AKA Kitchen Sink Drama, less kindly, probably because the dialogue isn’t much to – well -- speak of. Mum in the do-rag pushing the mop, and Dad saying, “Wot’s all this? Oy’ll show ye the back of me ‘and, oy wiw.”

The unsavory royals are much more fun. Lavish costumes, baroque scores, delightful anachronisms. There’s Burton mixing it up with the likes of Scofield, O’Toole, Richardson. And Redgrave with Hiller and York. Many of these chaps and chappesses had played the roles on stage, so gave effortless performances, comfortable in many skins.

But best of this category is no contest: Lion in Winter. Never has a dysfunctional family been so much fun to visit. And never has dialogue been so witty and English more beautifully spoken. Couldn’t find the clip for this, but whenever I watch the film, for days I mouth: “Out of curiousity, as intell-ek-tew-al to intell-ek-tew-al …”

Just ask; I’ll do it for you sometime. Better yet, watch the clips.

Clip 1

Clip 2

Clip 3

36 comments:

  1. My kids laugh at me for loving the British mysteries and films. I have gotten my dearly beloved hooked on them, however. I'm also accused of "talking funny" for a day or 2 after I watch them. Teenagers. Sheesh!

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  2. You've not lived until you've heard Richard Burton recite Hamlet (in german no less) on the Dick Cavett show.

    Confession: I was never as into the flicks as I was in watching interviews with the bawdy bards of English theatre on Cavett. David Niven??? His retelling of the story of one of the movie mogul's funeral...F-U-N-N-Y

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  3. "Departure is a simple act. You put the left foot down and then ...". God I love KHep. Lion in Winter and Becket are two favorites. Thanks for the clips. Now I have to go rent some English movies! :)

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  4. I was a Dick Cavett addict:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VkddEkM7FQw

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  5. Marjie, I'm a born mimic. Which doesn't mean I'm any good.

    PA, netflix is a beautiful thing. I've ordered Becket, per Bayside's rec. But I really think you'd like Lion. Above all, it's bitingly, toxically funny.

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  6. Sorry, I got distracted. I'm a longtime British drama fan and right now I'm truly distraught because they've been broadcasting "Celtic Thunder" on Sunday night instead of Masterpiece on PBS. I hate that stuff, when they bring out the Viennese Waltz guy I want to off myself.

    I remember when A Lion In Winter came out, the critics weren't very kind but I loved it. As for Beckett, I saw it long ago and loved, loved, loved Burton's intensity.
    I recently watched "A Single Man" and it was so good it hurt. All of the principal male actors were British and I'm beginning to think they must train them and then train them again so their performances just sort hang in the air.

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  7. I love "Lion in Winter"! It's a word-orgasmia. A bunch of very talented actors talking and acting the hell out of it. "Glengarry Glen Gross" is like that too.

    Paula! I just recently saw "A Single Man"too. It was fantastic. So subtle, so perfect.

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  8. Digression is always popular over here, Paula.

    I saw Lion at a revival house in the 80's. Fox Venice, I think. By then it was considered a classic.

    Is this wrong -- At least half of what I know of European history, I learned from English costume dramas.

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  9. Katherine H. isn't convincing enough for me because her british accent doesn't come across very well. Sorry.

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  10. I'm going to have to get some of these. I haven't had my outdoor Shakespeare fix this summer and I do love well spoken words. Maybe these will substitute.
    I always want to wear the costumes.

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  11. Loved Lion in Winter. Many years later I thought Elizabeth with Cate Blanchett was also great.

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  12. Though with little of the fun of Lion in Winter, O'Toole was never better than Henry II in Becket. (Pity some people know him only from the sand movie.)

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  13. Wow . . . Peter O'Toole and Katherine Hepburn.

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  14. Nice job on putting the Cockney into print.

    With no royalty, is Equus too far off the mark to be relevant here?

    But Brit drama as history lesson? Oh yes. Guilty. However, I'm weary of it on PBS. Wonder if there's a gender thing going on here?

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  15. I forgot that I have always wanted to see this. Thanks for the reminder.

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  16. Milady, gather ye olde movies, while ye may.

    I'll take Monty Python over this dreck any day!

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  17. i keep meaning to watch this!

    Do you know the film, based on a H Pinter play, where the butler moves in and basically takes over the life of his master? Totally, wonderfully dysfunctional! Dirk BOgarde I think.

    Think of me please while snuggling in your suede....

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  18. I do indeed, Ken Mac. That's The Servant. I'm a big, big fan of Pinter's. You have to see No Man's Land with Gielgud and Richardson, or just read the play.

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  19. No Man's Land with Gielgud and Richardson -- is this also a film? THANKS
    and yes, the Servant..

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  20. on the other end...MR Bean...omigod...I love him.

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  21. Sorry, kids, but you haven't lived until you've seen this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FaxjpQARxWo

    (hope the link works in the comment section!)

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  22. I think I can trump that:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eWyGf1qss2Y

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  23. Isn't he just epic?

    wv disms
    Disms gud.

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  24. Zeferelli's Romeo and Juliet is the reason I became an actress. I wanted to be a British actress, but there are limits.

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  25. As the saying goes, "They don't make 'em like that anymore." One of my most favorite movies.

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  26. I love the competitive spirit!

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  27. I'm at work so am somewhat disadvantaged re watching and posting videos. I wanted to post Laurence Olivier as Archie Rice singing in "The Entertainer" but jeez, louise, Peter O'Toole in "The Ruling Class." I would not have thought of that one.

    (In a slightly different vein and time frame, I'm going to think about O'Toole in "My Favorite Year.")

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  28. It's summer now, so I better come outta hibernation.

    I remember $2 matinees.

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  29. Nice mov..

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-pqEEf-TPjY

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  30. A sheep joke? I think I need to watch this movie from the beginning.

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  31. I've seen Lion in Winter. It's less of a judgement and more of a preference on my part.

    Give me a screenplay by Tennessee Williams, directed by Elia Kazan with art direction and cinematography by James Wong Howe

    I'll pick up the tab on the pop corn

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  32. You can never have too many sheep jokes.

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  33. My number one favorite movie! And during many a tough time in my life my mantra was always "remember Eleanor, be Eleanor." Or maybe I should have been saying "Katherine, be Katherine..." In any case-- it very often helped me get through my difficulties with a sense of dignity and a sense of humor.

    And maybe just a little bit of bitchiness. :)

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