Follower of fashion

Not me, I’m not a follower of fashion, but Sir Percy Blakeney aka The Scarlet Pimpernel very much is.

This past week in the evenings I’ve been sourcing some Pimpernel clips from the DVD that I have had for many years now and I (quite quickly for me) made two fan videos with them. I put the first one on YouTube yesterday (a bit sappy, but viewable on my The Scarlet Pimpernel fan video page), the second one I finished this morning and is now up as well.

I came upon the song Dedicated Follower of Fashion by The Kinks again and it’s as if the song was written for Percy personally! The writers actually used the “they seek him here, they seek him there” line from the book The Scarlet Pimpernel. So, even if this song is about the 1960s fashion crowd, it is also a bit about Sir Percy. I’ve gotta say, I had a lot of fun making this one.

Although I also really like the 1930s Leslie Howard in the role…

… I have to say that Anthony Andrews is my fave Pimpernel, possibly helped by the fact that his beautiful fashion comes out so nicely in colour. No, I’m no follower of fashion, but I sure like looking at it on Sir Percy.

Anthony Andrews in the 1980s

This past month I’ve been pretty obsessed with Anthony Andrews again (ever since I dug up the memory of liking him in an addendum to the fictional crush challenge I did). The resolution to read more books went out the window and I’ve been searching and finding a lot of the man’s work and have been watching that instead. I already blogged about Brideshead Revisited but there is so much more! Yes, I have been binging all things Anthony Andrews these past few weeks.

First off, The Scarlet Pimpernel from 1982, one of Anthony Andrews’ greatest successes. Perfect light fare and Anthony was so good in it! The rich, aristocrat fop, obsessed with fashion and the right cravat on the surface…

… and then in secret he is this swashbuckling hero saving French aristocrats from the guillotine.

He falls deeply in love with Marguerite (played by Jane Seymour) at first sight…

… he even smuggles someone out of Paris with his team while simultaneouly courting her…

… but after he marries her, he thinks she has sent people to the guillotine herself. The heartbreak in his eyes and his stoney-faced but tortured expression as he loves his wife but is not able to trust her, elevates his performance into something else…

I also love the interaction with his enemy Chauvellin, brilliantly portrayed by a young Ian McKellan…

It really looks like those two were having a blast playing off each other. I happened upon a picture of the two actors in later years and in that picture they still look pleased to be in each other’s company.

In the end, Marguerite is found to be worthy after all and becomes an ally and all ends well.

This isn’t too deep but it is so much fun with the right amount of humour, adventure, rivalry and heartbreak. The way the man goes from foppishness to seriousness in seconds, and vice versa, is just fascinating to watch. I keep going back to it, a perfect pick me up TV film. It’s up on YouTube in decent quality should you be curious. Sink me (as Sir Percy would say), I am enchanted!

Speaking of Jane Seymour, he did another TV film with her I also remember seeing back in the 1980s called The Woman He Loved. It’s about Edward the VIII abdicating the English throne because he loved divorcee Wallis Simpson.

On seeing it again, I liked it less than I remember liking it then (Seymour’s US Southern accent feels very weird to me) but Andrews did a very creditable portrayal, I felt, and I think it was a bit of a hit at the time as well.

Anthony and Jane met up again in 2018 according to her Facebook, with these delightful pictures, one of them featuring Anthony’s wife as well. Anthony got married young to Georgina, by the way, at age 23 back in 1971, and they seem happy to this day. I love long happy marriages like that.

The 1980s were really the Anthony Andrews heyday. Between Brideshead and Pimpernel he did a few The Love Boat episodes. I saw them back in the 1980s as well and they were gratingly cheesy to me even back then (and so silly with how quickly Tony and Julie fell in love!) but nonetheless, I found Anthony absolutely charming (especially in that first episode) as the vet who falls in love with the cruise director and almost marries her…

Anthony also played Ivanhoe in a TV movie at the beginning of the 80s. That one I had never seen until recently. While Anthony is absolutely gorgeous in it (and apparently did most of the riding himself in that – he’s a keen rider and within the UK ‘horse circuit’ he is friends with Princess Anne who is also godmother to his daughter), I found the film quite terrible, starting with the concept that Jews belong to a “race”…

I don’t think I’ll ever watch that movie again, but oh, his kind, brown eyes!

After Pimpernel he did a crime thing for US television called Sparkling Cyanide with Deborah Raffin adapted from Agatha Christie, which I also remember watching at the time. Again, I liked Andrews in what was an alright watch.

Another film I remember watching was Under the Volcano which he did in 1984 with Albert Finney and Jacqueline Bisset. Now, that was much better material and he did really well in that, I loved him in it! Albert Finney was (rightly so) nominated for an Oscar for this film. Even watching it again now (available on YouTube), I still find it a good movie albeit a very depressing watch. I wouldn’t mind riding off into the sunset with tortured Hugh Firmin, even though this was totally not that kind of movie…

I lately watched him in The Second Victory from 1987 for the first time (obscure film, also up on YouTube) as an English major coming to an Austrian mountain town just after World War II, trying to keep order. The obligatory love story line wasn’t great, but Andrews was pretty good as the conflicted and tortured major.

1987’s The Lighthorsemen also rang a bell when I saw the title and on watching that again (yep, YouTube) I remembered I had seen that too. Set during the First World War in Palestine, he plays the supporting role of Major Meinertzhagen, a man of charm and hidden depth doing secret service work. I really liked Anthony in that as well. Apparently the real Meinertzhagen was nowhere near as dashing as the fictional one, but I really like the fictional one. Again, it’s all in the eyes…

I also watched his scenes in Hanna’s War, as a training officer, which were alright. He didn’t have much good material to deal with in that. I didn’t bother watching the whole movie as he died pretty quickly in it. I vaguely remember the movie from back then and I just couldn’t deal with WWII torture sessions. So, not a movie I’ll return to either.

And I watched a remake of the Hitchcock movie Suspicion (originally with Cary Grant) that I also hadn’t seen since the 80s or possibly 90s (I think I used to have it on videotape). The movie was never, by far, as good as the Hitchcock version but it was passable (even though here too the falling in love was really quick). Jane Curtin wasn’t too great and Anthony wasn’t as mysterious as Cary Grant had been, but again, he had charm. And the sad brown eyes at the end… yeah, by now I know I’m a sucker for those, just as I am for that scar on the left side of his upper lip.

Just the other day I watched the Hallmark TV miniseries Bluegrass from 1988 that he’s in (again, on YouTube), about a Kentucky lady (Cheryl Ladd) trying to get into the horse racing industry. I admit to not having so much patience anymore for Hallmark films in recent months (I may have overdosed in the past), so I only skipped to the Anthony Andrews bits. Again, charming and lovely, but he is a bit of a douche in this one. I can see why he, as a horse lover, wanted to do this but again, a bit of a mediocre project…

He played Jekyll and Hyde in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, a 1989 TV special (bad quality on YouTube , episode only lasts an hour and then goes into repeat to make the video longer). It was a pity I could only find it on YouTube, as from what I could see Anthony was very cute as Dr. Jekyll, with that hair and those round glasses, but alas the image was never sharp enough to ogle properly. It also has Laura Dern in it, who’s pretty good. I don’t really like that story very much but from what I could tell, Anthony did a creditable job with what he had. He’s quite good at going insane.

The best thing Anthony Andrews did at the end of the 1980s was play the murderer in an episode of Columbo called Columbo Goes to the Guillotine. I saw that in the 80s too, and recently again, and it still holds up! That’s also due to me loving Columbo anyhow (brought to life so wonderfully by the great Peter Falk), I think he was my fave TV detective ever. So, it was extra lovely seeing Anthony do this and do it well.

I guess that brings this post full circle, from guillotine during the French Revolution to a guillotine in the USA in 1989… Bottom line is that I always like Anthony Andrews, he did a few really good things, but equally a lot of the stuff he’s been in is just so-so.

I’ve been doing so much more Andrews research, but this post is too long already, so I’d better just stick to the 1980s Andrews for now. I’ve been compiling pictures for this all day, so time to end it and maybe post more at another time, in another Anthony Andrews post.

Odd’s fish, m’dear…

… (as Sir Percy Blakeney would say), an old love has been reignited!

A while back I did this 10 days, 10 fictional crushes challenge and on the 11th day I wrote an addendum of extra crushes. One of them was Sir Percy Blakeney from The Scarlet Pimpernel (as pictured above) and the other was Sebastian Flyte from Brideshead Revisited, both portrayed by Anthony Andrews. “Ha!” I thought to myself after I had posted that, “I haven’t watched those two adaptations in ages, let me go and watch them again!” And so I did. I went down a rabbit hole again and I’ve been there with Anthony Andrews ever since…

When I re-watched Brideshead I didn’t watch all of it, as it is quite depressing, but just the Sebastian bits. Anthony Andrews slipping away into despair and an addiction is quite heartbreaking to watch. I first saw Brideshead in 1988 while studying for my school finals and I remembered I had written about that in my diary at the time. I looked it up, and boy did I write a lot! It’s a lot to read, but I will copy and paste it here anyway.

A little background to the diary entry: the last two years of high school I went to an international boarding school in The Netherlands. My school building was an old castle…

I vividly remember such a beautiful misty view of the castle on some mornings when I walked to the castle for breakfast. I lived in a building next to the old coach house, together with 4 other girls and our ‘house mother’, an elderly lady in her late 50s who was also the school nurse. The red arrow in the picture below points to the building I boarded in (it was known as the Blokhut), the little red square is where my room was…

So, back to the diary… this is what I wrote on Friday, April 29th, 1988. I was only just 18 and was supposed to be studying for my German International Baccalaureate final exam…

I just watched the second part of Brideshead Revisited with Anthony Andrews and Jeremy Irons. I think Anthony Andrews is one of the best actors ever. The first time I thought that was when last year I saw him in The Scarlet Pimpernel.

[Note: looked it up, found the mention in the summer of 1987. I only saw part of Pimpernel because I had missed the beginning.]

I hadn’t even planned to watch that but then I did and I was fascinated. Same thing with Brideshead. I didn’t know what to expect but I love it.

I was thinking about Sebastian Flyte, the character Anthony Andrews acts. It is so heart wrenching to see him become a serious alcoholic. To me, Sebastian seems a character who is trapped by his rich family, always feeling he is somehow in their shadow. In part 1 of Brideshead he told his friend Charles Ryder (Jeremy Irons) that he didn’t want him to meet his family because they are all so very charming. He prefers having Charles to himself. In today’s part Charles, who is the narrator of the story, said something like the closer he got to Sebastian’s family the more distant Sebastian became. Sebastian didn’t share his solitude with him anymore, he remarks at one point. It seems to me that Sebastian needs someone who he can have completely to himself, someone who would never become involved with his family, someone who would stay kind but distant. It’s as if he never had something he truly called his own. Maybe that explains his attachment to his teddy bear Aloysius. Thinking of it, Aloyisius played a far bigger role in part 1 than in part 2. The last image of today’s part is that of Sebastian sitting crouched in his windowsill, hugging his legs, a coat around his shoulders, the room all messy, telling Charles who is knocking on the door to go away and leave him alone. It makes you want to go up to Sebastian and hug him and tell him all is fine. I find Sebastian more intriguing than Charles. Well, maybe I am prejudiced because I prefer Andrews as an actor to Irons. Both are actually portraying very interesting men, Sebastian is however more complicated than Charles. There is somehow a mysterious air surrounding Sebastian. I wonder how Andrews can portray so many different expressions. It all seems to be so natural. Sometimes I catch myself thinking, “this must be for real, this can’t be acted.” I find it amazing.

Wow! Just now I realized that I wrote practically 3 pages about this [Note: pages quite small and handwriting quite large]. Didn’t realize I have so much to write about this.

Tomorrow, at 11, I have my IB German oral exam. The final exam. It’s now 10:15 pm. I think I’d better get back to work.

I was just thinking about the nurse. At the moment I’m all alone in the Blokhut.  She is mothering me. It gets on my nerves but I guess it’s the thought that counts. [Note: a paragraph on the nurse being annoying follows].

I guess I have to get back to work but I keep on thinking about Sebastian, trying to analyze and understand him better, wishing someone would understand him so that person could help him out and give him what he needs. I’m sure there are a lot of people like him. He seems to cover up so much hurt and jealousy, jealousy of his far too charming family (as he thinks – personally, I prefer him to any members of his family, but then of his family, he’s the one we get to know the most of.)

This is going to be a pensive night, confusing Sebastian and the German books. Confusing reminds me of a dream I had last night that scared the shit out of me. [Note: long description follows of terrifying dream that I actually still remember clearly to this day].

I have this strange melancholic feeling. I’m going to sleep. I can manage finishing the rest of my stuff tomorrow morning. I know myself, I’ll reproach myself for not having done more work (as usual) and I’ll panic. Maybe I’ll even have an uneasy night. I tell myself that, because I didn’t study the “life and civilization” part of the German oral, I’ll fuck up the whole thing. [Note: long paragraphs follow about getting good grades despite not working too hard and feeling like I’m therefore ‘smuggling’ my way through school – not working enough for school is like Sebastian as well, by the way].

Do you know what? Actually I have lost track of what point I’m trying to get across. I didn’t even plan to write about all this. All I wanted to write about was Sebastian. Sebastian put me in a melancholic mood, in melancholic moods I think of the past and then discover strange ideas. Actually it feels good to write it all down.

Heavens, this is a lot. The last time I wrote this much probably was at some point where I poured out all my unhappy love for J. Help, I almost forgot about him. You know, now I really feel like laughing. It almost seems misplaced to mention J., so I won’t mention him.  [Note: a paragraph about my weird mood follows].

Do you know what I was thinking today? I don’t think the perfect partner for a human being exists. All this stuff about being born for each other and made for each other is crap, bullshit. I don’t believe there could be anybody who would be solely and wholly right for me. There is no such thing as a perfect match. My, my, aren’t we being philosophical this evening – I blame it on Sebastian, my love.

It’s 11:20 pm . Bedtime.

Before I write much more I’m forcing myself to stop. While writing this I keep on pronouncing all the words in a British accent in my mind, so unlike my real way of speaking. Again to blame on Brideshead Revisited, I assume. I even have the feeling that I’m expressing myself more elegantly than usual, is that not so? “Oh, jolly British, aren’t we?”, “A cup of tea?”, “No thank you very much.”, “How do you do?”, “How do you do?”, “The lady is in the library, sir.”, “Oh, I do think you should stop laughing, James”.

What’s gotten into me? Heaven knows. I’m feeling far more jolly now then I have in the past few weeks. Somehow more content. I wouldn’t say ecstatically happy. Oh, I really don’t seem to be able to get to bed. If I continue like this I won’t be able to get up at 8:30 am. I already have so much trouble getting up lately. I still sound British don’t I?

Genug! Sense! Finito! Goodnight.

There ends the diary entry. The next day’s German oral went well (I got top marks for my German finals), but Sebastian was still churning around in my head…

And I know why Sebastian appealed to me so much. He feels like a fraud and like he’s the least interesting person in the family, just like I did. l even wrote about it once, how my family seemed more interesting than me, around the time I also mentioned The Scarlet Pimpernel. Part of my diary entry on Wednesday, July 22nd, 1987:

(Conference is about the yearly international conferences my father used to organize and we, his children, used to help out and were ‘famous’ to the 300 or so international conference participants).

Like Sebastian, I too used to get annoyed with some of my friends who would end up crushing on one of my brothers. I remember that happening in at least four cases with four different girls who came to my house. The worst one was a girlfirend who came home with me for spring break and ended up virtually stuffing her boobs into my oldest brother’s face. The friendship soon ended. Sebastian was also all about Catholic guilt, but that was something I identified less with.

While I could understand where Sebastian was coming from, I luckily never developed addictions like he did. I always wished that I could have saved him. Anthony Andrews was so good at portraying these kinds of emotions in Sebastian Flyte, that even now, 32 years after first seeing it, I still feel a great affinity with him and I still feel like Andrews did a phenomenal job.

Let me end with a final diary entry on Anthony Andrews, written on Sunday, May 22nd, 1988:

Saw Greg Peck last night on the BBC in The Guns of Navarone. Strangely enough he still is my favourite actor. Anthony Andrews belongs to that category now too. I find it breathtaking to see how he can fascinate by making a character come to life. He is a superb actor. He’d make the most lousy and strangest character seem credible.

Somewhere in time the love ebbed away somewhat, but I am now (re-)watching all kinds of Anthony Andrews work and I have to say that, despite a whole lot of dud film and TV projects, the actor still is really good.

Work at home pictures

After no-motivation Monday, work from home has been going better. Mr Esther was working like this, this morning, during a very long video conference call…

And this is me working at the dinner table. Wasn’t going to share this image at first because of the double chin, but then figured if I share Mr Esther so openly, I can’t really justify not honestly sharing myself…

Used my lunch break and an hour after work to finish watching season 3 of the really enjoyable The Syndicate (from 2015) with Anthony Andrews (I’m reliving my youth in a renewed full on Anthony Andrews crush) and there’s a working at home image of him as well in The Syndicate!

I feel in good company here, sandwiched in this post between Mr Esther and Anthony. Only one more working day and then the weekend is here. Dinner is served now, I’m off!

Popping up with Richard

I’m a bad Armitage fan right now. Still haven’t gotten up the courage to see My Zoe yet and I admit to not minding so much that Richard is relatively quiet on social media. So much happening on social media these days that it gets exhausting to follow and him not being around so much is almost bliss – one less thing to occupy my mind with. Now Richard has popped up again and this time it’s not someting I want to ignore, so here I am, popping up as well with a blog post.

So, Richard Armitage is now promoting again, this time the audiobook of selected Chekhov tales he is reading. Yeah, really not interested in another audio book, but I do like seeing a new picture of our Richie again…

The image was used in a recent NME interview called “The Soundtrack of my Life” which was published yesterday. Not too revealing an article but a fun enough read.

He really is of my generation with his Abba and Eurythmics and Queen memories/choices. Imogen Heap I have heard of by name, listening to that song he shared I don’t think I need to hear more, it’s not for me. His Tina Turner story intrigued me as I remember wanting to go and see her as well during that tour but although I liked Tina Turner I was never a real fan and in the end felt it was too expensive. I thought I’d check the tour dates to see when Armitage would have been in Amsterdam to see her but according to Wikipedia she did her Dutch concerts in Arnhem not Amsterdam! Memory is a tricky thing, even for Richards. Maybe he stayed in Amsterdam, which is about an hour and a half away (or a little less) from Arnhem. That last video he shared of that Icelandic band’s entry for the Eurovision Song Contest was awesome. I had seen part of it before, never the whole thing, and it just cracked me up.

Then yesterday evening another item appeared about Richard being in an Empire podcast. My brother had come by unexpectedly, so I chose him and a nice cheese evening instead of the podcast…

Richard still wasn’t a priority during the day today when I decided to spend it finally finishing my Audrey Hepburn in World War II book (post on that will be forthcoming). This evening after dinner I finally did make some time and listened to the podcast. I skipped ahead till I got to the Richard bit at 1 hour and 10 minutes.

So, the man is in New York. Lots of audiobook and Chekhov talk that were mildly interesting to me (I’m sorry, I just can not get hyped up about audiobooks!). I liked the latter part of the interview better when chat turned to other things. I really liked that little stage door story of when he realized that Toby Jones had played Dobby the house elf. Until this evening I too hadn’t realized that Toby had played Dobby.

I could identify with the getting fat and grey at 50 comment, because that’s what’s going on with me, but I somehow don’t think that will happen with him just yet. He commented on being semi-introverted and slightly anti-social, so that going into lockdown was alright for him (alone I wonder?) and with that too I can identify. He mentioned about staying off social media (yeah, noticed that) but that it was maybe time to come out of hiding now. The tombstone epitaph that he thinks would be fitting for him saying, “He was fully committed” – yeah, I can see that too. There wasn’t that much new in this interview but it was nice hearing him speak again.

A nice little Armitage distraction, but now it’s back to other things again for the rest of the evening, here in our garden with a little outside fire burning and a glass of white wine. The son is out, the daughter is watching a movie in her room, the husband is reading and I am tryping this…

… while I listen to the two little hedgehogs that live in our garden waking up and moving around in the undergrowth. Mr Esther was able to take a picture of them 3 days ago…

I think I may go back to Anthony Andrews land again when I sign off here. Been in that land for a little while now, ever since I posted about him in that fictional crush challenge I did…

… or I may pick up another book again. Needs to be a good one because I had quite some frustration with the Audrey Hepburn one and I don’t want to be frustrated again. Enough chat for now. Over and out