What is it with Persuasion?

I love Jane Austen’s Persuasion and Persuasion adaptations and as I have grown older, I think it has surpassed even my love of Pride and Prejudice. A year ago I read there were two Persuasion adaptations in the making and I was curious to see how those two would portray the story and also how much they would differ. I now understand that the version with Australian actress Sarah Snook is not happening anymore, which is a pity. She says in an interview with Vogue magazine from last fall: “Case in point: Jane Austen’s Persuasion with director Mahalia Belo, which was meant to be her next project. “The short story is that Netflix decided to greenlight their own, so Fox abandoned the one we were doing, which is disappointing because it was a great script and a director I really wanted to work with,” she says with a shrug. “But had I been doing that, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to come back to Australia so soon and see family and friends.”

Well, that Netflix version is now finally coming to the screen on July 15th and today a trailer was released:

The cast looks good!

I’m not a huge Dakota Johnson fan but she could be alright in this. I don’t know Cosmo Jarvis who plays Frederick Wentworth but he does look like he has some charisma. I wonder if his charisma can beat Henry Golding’s charisma. I really like Golding, I think he could have made an excellent Wentworth as well but he also looks like he can imbue Mr Elliot with just the right amount of charm and ambiguity. I also love the casting of Richard E. Grant and in the snippet we see of him he already looks perfect as the very vain father of Anne. Nikki Amuka-Bird as Lady Russell looks interesting too. I didn’t know her name before I looked it up but I did know her face instantly from bits and pieces she’s done on TV where she somehow always manages to capture my attention.

For me an adaptation really doesn’t need to be the same as the book (I unexpectedly really enjoyed Pride and Prejudice and Zombies for instance) but it does need to capture it’s spirit somewhat. In this trailer, I do wonder about a friendship storyline that is hinted at – one of the big points in Persuasion is that Captain Wentworth is wounded and therefore outwardly very dismissive of Anne Elliot, so much so that there is no question of a renewed friendship until closer to the end of the story. Also, Captain Wentworth looks less stoic and unforgiving in this trailer so I do wonder how that will all work out. There also seems to be Anne breaking the fourth wall in this, which could be either very cool or very annoying.

No matter how good or how bad, I am very excited for this and I will definitely watch it as soon as I can. This adaptation has big shoes to fill, because I do love the Amanda Root / Ciaran Hinds version from 1995…

… but I don’t think it can be as bad as a Hallmark-ish version that was released two years ago (with the uninspired title of Modern Persuasion), which was quite terrible. I’m really curious on the take of this adaptation.

Besides the film/TV adaptations I also like reading Persuasion book adaptations and I just happened to finish reading one over the weekend. Even if the adaptations can’t always equal the original, the original storyline is quite strong and therefore the adaptations are really enjoyable for me too. So, I keep going back to them. Somehow I can’t seem to get enough of this story. I do keep wondering what attracts me to all these Persuasion re-tellings. Is it because the story is about a slightly more mature love? About second chances? Is it about learning from your mistakes or possible errors of judgment but also being grateful for them because they brought you to where you are today? It’s all of the above, I guess, and more. At the end of the book Anne Elliot says this:

“I have been thinking over the past, and trying impartially to judge of the right and wrong, I mean with regard to myself; and I must believe that I was right, much as I suffered from it, that I was perfectly right in being guided by the friend whom you will love better than you do now. To me, she was in the place of a parent. Do not mistake me, however. I am not saying that she did not err in her advice. It was, perhaps, one of those cases in which advice is good or bad only as the event decides; and for myself, I certainly never should, in any circumstance of tolerable similarity, give such advice. But I mean, that I was right in submitting to her, and that if I had done otherwise, I should have suffered more in continuing the engagement than I did even in giving it up, because I should have suffered in my conscience. I have now, as far as such a sentiment is allowable in human nature, nothing to reproach myself with;

I really like that. Even though the choice she made then caused her a lot of heartache, it still was the right choice for her at that time. It made her who she is but also drove Captain Wentworth to become as accomplished as he is. It also shows that timing is everything. There is a time to listen and take advice, there is a time to grow up and learn, there is a time when you can let experience lead you to another choice.

One of the great things about Jane Austen novels is how the main characters learn to know themselves better and what they want out of life and I think Anne may be Austen’s most self-aware character. She has loved and lost and has had time to absorb and analyse, thus maybe making her more wise and more empathetic than other Austen characters. She has had time to reflect and now knows who she is, she is level-headed and capable and she assuredly knows that if given a second chance she will grab it with both hands. I think it’s Captain Wentworth who is forced to make a bigger learning curve in this story, learning to deal with his petty anger, learning to understand himself, learning nuance (her youthful choice against him didn’t mean she didn’t love him) and finally accepting the fact that Anne, being steadfast and wise and empathetic, is indeed the best woman for him out there. I love Anne and that she stays true to herself and I love that she is able to inspire Wentworth to know himself better.

Persuasion is Jane Austen’s last completed novel. It is possibly her most nuanced one as well (despite also having some biting characterizations) and I think I will forever love coming back to it. Ah, the stories Austen could have told had she only lived longer!

Colourised Colman

Yes, Ronald Colman is still on my mind and now and again I return to my little quest to find more colour images of him (like here and here) as there just aren’t enough colour images of the man out there. He was magnetic in black and white and I have this theory that he must have been even more mesmerizing in colour.

He only did two films in colour and had a very brief appearance in colour in the third. In 1944’s Kismet he was covered in lots of make-up and turbans so, in essence, hidden, until the end when he is dressed in black and his salt and pepper hair looks a little tousled. He looks devastatingly handsome in colour there. I wish he had looked like that throughout the whole movie (without the beard)…

In his little guest appearance in 1956’s Around the World in Eighty Days, his brown eyes shone nicely in the sun but he was a little hidden, dressed in a white uniform with pith helmet, and his appearance was ever so brief in a blink or you’ll miss it scene.

In his final movie from 1957, The Story of Mankind, he was also already older. The version I have is a little grainy and you rarely see him close up.

So, there are a few (moving) images in colour of an older Ronald but there are no (moving) images of him in colour as a younger man as far as I have been able to find. I can’t do anything about that but it occured to me that maybe I could do something about seeing more colour photographs of him.

I found this website where you can colourise black and white photos online and I’ve been throwing a whole bunch of images into the ‘colouriser’. Lots of the pictures don’t turn out quite right but some do come out with nice results and I want to share my favourites here. I don’t know Photoshop, so haven’t been able to enhance these myself, they come pretty much as is from the colouriser.

I’ll start with my absolute favourite colourised photo result, which really shows Ronnie’s warm brown eyes so beautifully! He had quite large eyes too, it must have been difficult to not lose yourself in them while meeting the man in person. Click on the image yourself to enlarge it and see what I mean. I think this is early 1940s Ronnie.

There is also a nice result from an end 1920s/early 1930s picture…

That photo must have been taken around the time he made Condemned (1929) with Ann Harding and Arrowsmith (1931) with Helen Hayes, from which I also now have two quite nice colourised pictures.

There are two pictures with female co-stars where especially the co-stars come out really nicely in colour. The eyes of Kay Francis in Raffles (1930) and Loretta Young in Bulldog Drummond Strikes Back (1934) are quite stunning in these.

I also like how these images with Signe Hasso in A Double Life (1947), Ginger Rogers in Lucky Partners (1940), Jane Wyatt in Lost Horizon (1937) and Greer Garson in Random Harvest (1942) came out…

He looks his absolute sexiest with a bit of ruffled hair, as in A Tale of Two Cities (1935). The colouring quality isn’t great but the magnetism cannot be denied…

Also, another one from A Tale of Two Cities. Yes, Isabel Jewell is too yellow in the face but boy, Ronnie sure is in control of that white shirt open at the neck and sexy body language look. And two more ruffled hair pictures: one from The Talk of the Town (1942) and the other from Under Two Flags (1937).

I find that colourising from studio photographs works better than colourising from screenshots I took from the movies. Here are two more from A Tale of Two Cities, the second one also featuring actress Elizabeth Allen. Ronald Colman was very attached to his moustache and was hesitant shaving it off for Two Cities but I do think it’s one of his best looks.

This slightly ruffled Random Harvest look isn’t half bad either in colour (don’t mind his ear on the left of this picture, which is very off-colour). His brown eyes come out nicely in this one as well.

I am quite taken by this one of Ronald Colman in A Double Life – I love him with glasses!

I also really like two colourized shots from the mid 1920s with his frequent co-star Vilma Banky. The first one is from their final silent movie together, The Winning of Barbara Worth (1926) and I suspect the second one was taken on that set as well.

There’s a nice one from the end 1940s with his wife Benita Hume, when they did radio together (even though the blue hand that looks like it could fall off his arm any minute)…

I also really like these two behind the scenes shots, from A Tale of Two Cities and Random Harvest. I presume he’s not really wearing one brown and one blue sock in Random Harvest, it’s probably a colouring mistake, but I do like to imagine that he wore mismatched socks.

And I really love these candid ones from Ronnie in his garden, from the beginning 1930s and beginning 1940s, I believe. He sure looked good in blue.

Judging from these pictures alone it must have been quite something meeting him in real life full colour. In a 1926 Photoplay interview (during the silent film era when he had only been famous for two years) this is confirmed:

“He gives you the feeling that, for all his reserve, you are one of the people capable of getting under it. He conveys that impression at the very moment of meeting. It’s a beautiful trick. When you are introduced his first glance meets yours quite politely, but casually. An instant later his eyes flash interest, a deep interest in you whom he has just seen that moment. It’s enough to make any woman glow like a red-hot stove. Of course it may be due to his being a marvellous actor. Every woman in his life must have felt that she, out of all the world, was closest to him. And afterward she must have known that she didn’t know him at all. He makes you feel that he could be the most charming person in the world, the most wonderful companion, the most ardent lover. These things are in the depths of his cynical and amused eyes, in the well-bred tones of his fine voice, in his flattering attention to your silliest words.” (Source)

I wish I could have caught a glimpse like that of the real Ronald Colman in colour for myself. Alas, that does not seem to be in the cards as Ronald was very publicity shy, he rarely gave interviews and there seem to be no video interviews (more than snippets in news reels) either. There is more to be found of publicity shy actors nowadays (*cough* Richard Armitage) than of publicity shy actors from the 1920s – 1940s…

Two favourites in one post

It’s the weekend! And I saw this lovely picture come across my Instagram feed this afternoon after I finished working…

Source

Apparently Damage has wrapped filming in Marseille and this is Richard with his co-star Charlie Murphy (an actress I don’t know yet but seems to also have been on Peaky Blinders). I have a feeling Richard is still wearing filming make-up in this picture but it’s such a sweet picture nonetheless! In his Instagram post Richard says he is ‘transformed’. I’d love to know in what way.

It reminds me of another sweet picture I came across earlier this week that I wanted to share of Colin Firth and Matthew Macfadyen: Mr Darcy 1995 (my absolute fave Darcy ever!) and Mr Darcy 2005…

They starred in their first movie togther and this was them at a premiere…

They seem to like each other apart from that Darcy connection and apparently only briefly exchanged Darcy experiences. They filmed a movie called Operation Mincemeat together about a British deception operation to disguise the Allied invasion of Sicily in 1943, using the body of a dead man, planting fake documents on him for the Germans to find. It’s based on a true story. I went to see the film with my friend last Tuesday (it was a pre-premiere showing). The cinema had a huge display to advertise the film…

It’s not Colin’s masterpiece and I could’ve done without that love triangle part of the story but it was a fun film to watch nonetheless. Ian Fleming, writer of James Bond, was part of the team who executed the deception plan and it was also very amusing finding out where M and Q in the James Bond movies seemed to have gained their names from. Colin and Matthew really play well off each other…

It’s not a film you really need to watch but it really was very nice to have seen it, especially with the added context of that Darcy connection. Although, I admit to not thinking much about either Darcy while I watched this, which is a good thing.

I love seeing my favourite actors making good connections with those they work with and showing it with a hug or a touch. It always makes me feel warm and happy inside.

More Colman in colour & another treasure

OK, just one more Ronald Colman post (it’s been sitting in my drafts for a few weeks) and then I’ll shut up (for now). In an earlier post I was wishing for more Ronald Colman in colour as he seems to mostly be immortalized in black and white. I’ve been collecting images over the past few weeks and found some interesting things.

The most exciting bit is a very short promotional film in two-tone technicolour from 1929(!!) where he introduces the then-governor of California. They promote talking pictures, which was still a new phenomenon at the time. Alas only the governor gets a close-up, a pity they didn’t give Ronnie the same treatment! I would have loved to see his expessions better and his brown eyes properly.

There’s also a 1952 colour clip of Ronald Colman presenting the Best Actress Oscar with a funny little intro with Danny Kaye as well. I love how unfazed he is by Danny Kaye and plays along. And I just love Danny Kaye too, he was a great comic. In this clip Greer Garson accepts the Oscar on Vivien Leigh’s behalf and even gives Ronnie a little kiss, which gives me lovely Random Harvest vibes.

Apart from those two clips, I also found a few late in life pictures of Ronnie in colour. The first picture includes his wife, Benita; the last one includes Zsa Zsa Gabor.

I found a few colour images for a TV show called The Halls of Ivy that he did with Benita (after their radio show of the same name had been a success). However, these do look like they could originally have been black and white as well.

The radio shows are available on YouTube but I wish I could somehow get my hands on the TV show. So far, except for one episode, no such luck.

I also found a cool all-star picture that seems to have been coloured in from an original black and white image (I’ve seen mostly black and white versions of this). This is apparently a radio broadcast at NBC in 1939 by the ‘English colony’ of actors in Hollywood on occasion of the visit of the English King and Queen to the US.

From left to right: Greer Garson, Leslie Howard, smoking in the background is George Sanders (tidbit: he married Benita after Ronnie died), Vivien Leigh, Brian Aherne, Ronald Colman and Basil Rathbone.

Except for a large amount of coloured in movie posters and stills (there are more than I share here, but this is to give an idea) there really isn’t that much Colman in colour that I can find…

And last but not least, as I was searching for the Colman in colour pictures, I also came across this one about a month ago…

Yes, another book. It’s from Ronald’s Oscar winning performance and I just couldn’t resist. I almost paid more in shipping and customs fees than I paid for the book but still it was quite affordable. Worth it too, as I also imagine it’s quite a rare one. The book arrived today to my great joy! It tells the story of the film in prose form and inside there are also black and white images from the movie. I’m not including all images here as some of them are real story spoilers. I know these aren’t in colour but I couldn’t resist sharing my new little treasure here as well.

And while I’m off the original topic anyhow: I also made another Ronald Colman video that I put up on YouTube a few days ago. It’s all about the love in his and his leading ladies’ eyes…

For the coming weeks there will be very little Ronnie to focus on: I’m going on a holiday! It only came up a few weeks ago and we very impulsively just went ahead and booked. Mr Esther, Junior and I will be flying to Israel this Saturday, along with my younger brother and a distant cousin. We’re heading to the wedding of another cousin’s son and then adding on some extra time before and after. Last time I was in Israel was 9 years ago, I’m so excited to be going back to my childhood home again.

Anyway, anything more Ronnie related will have to wait until I get back. I still need to find that ultimate Ronald Colman colour picture because I so want to see what his eyes really looked like and how deeply brown they actually were. His role in Kismet gives me a little bit of an idea…

… but the images are not clear enough.

My Jane Eyre has come home

When I was 8 or 9 years old my mother gave me a simplifed version of Jane Eyre to read and I was instantly hooked on the story. It has remained a favourite book of mine since. In fact, I had two simplifed Jane Eyre versions. I remember with one liking the text more and with the other I loved the images. The cover of the one version was this dark pink and it had some drawn illustrations. The other version was the quicker read and it had pictures in them of what I thought then was a movie, but I later found out was a 1973 BBC TV mini series. I would read the pink book and then study the photos in the TV version book I had and read some passages there too and I would do that endlessly.

I cherished my two Jane Eyres and they moved with me from Israel to Germany when I was 10. In the 6 years that I lived in Germany we moved three times. I think that during one of those moves (I’m guessing the last one) I couldn’t find the books anymore but there were lots of boxes with books in storage in the cellar of my dad’s office at the time. I vaguely remember going through those boxes, looking for my Jane Eyres but not being able to find them. I always figured they’d turn up in time but they never did.

At 16 I went to a boarding school in The Netherlands (so didn’t take much stuff with me) and then at 18 we moved into a house in Leiden (NL) and all my stuff from Germany was moved to The Netherlands. Those boxes of books came too. It was all unpacked but my Jane Eyres weren’t there. I have scoured bookshelves at my parents’ house and later at my siblings’ places but those books were nowhere to be found. It was around then (at about 18 or 19) when I first read the full Charlotte Brontë story of Jane Eyre. I can still remember lying in my bed in my attic room reading it and falling in love with it all over again.

Every time I went into a second-hand book store, I’d check to see if one of my simplified Jane Eyre books was available but I never had any luck. Then the internet came and I searched especially for the one with those BBC pictures in it. Try finding a simplified Jane Eyre book online and see how many versions you can find. I can tell you from experience there are hundreds!

A few years ago I thought I’d finally found it. I had found out that it had been published by Longman in 1976, I had an ISBN number and the bookseller’s front cover image indicated it was the version with those BBC images in it. When the book arrived, however, it turned out to be a different edition. The ISBN number was indeed the same but the publication year was different, it was not my version and it didn’t have any pictures. I gave up on searching for a long time after that.

Then, a few weeks ago, I was looking for that Ronald Colman biography and found a second-hand book site called Abe Books. I thought, what the heck, I’ll try looking for my Jane Eyre again and lo and behold, I found it! It was available from a bookstore in Germany. I ordered it, hoping I wouldn’t be disappointed yet again, and today it arrived. I tore the envelope open and there she was, just as I remembered: Sorcha Cusack (older sister of Sinéad Cusack, by the way, who played Mrs Thornton in North and South) as Jane Eyre on the cover…

Yes, this is my Jane Eyre! It even looked as pre-used and loved as my own edition had been. I just can’t tell you how stoked I am: this is the end of an approximately 35 year search! I leafed through the book and the images and even after all these years, they all felt so extremely familiar.

I remember back in 1995 when I fell in love with Colin Firth as Mr Darcy in that year’s BBC production of Pride and Prejudice

… he reminded me of an image of Mr Rochester in my old Jane Eyre book. Of course, I didn’t have the book handy at the time to compare but now that I see this image, I can completely see again why I made that association. The comparison really wasn’t so far-fetched…

I saw this 1973 BBC series some 10 or 15 years ago for the first time and Michael Jayston (who plays Edward Rochester in it) didn’t remind me of Colin at all. He seemed lighter, a little more fair haired then I remembered from the book. I took screenshots of images that I thought might correspond with the images I still had in my head of my book, but they never seemed right. Now I understand why. The image in the book is in black and white, making Edward Rochester seem darker, and is also from a slightly different angle which makes me think this is a stills photograph and not so much a screenshot from the actual series.

I think this evening I may read through bits of that simplified text again, see what I think of it now. I also think that I may start the search for that other simplified Jane Eyre book that I remember, although I do have less details to go on as I don’t have film images or anything that can roughly date that book for me. So far the search terms “Jane Eyre” and “simplified” and “pink cover” have done nothing for me. No matter, I have at least got this one ‘back’ – my Jane Eyre has come home to me.