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.

Fictional crush challenge – day 9

10 days, 10 fictional crushes
Post an image of a fictional character who has been or still is your crush. No names or explanations needed. TV, movie, book, comic, cartoon characters are valid.

John Thornton (Richard Armitage) from the BBC’s 2004 adaptation of North and South. To anyone who reads here regularly this isn’t a surprise, I think. Four years ago, around my 10 year anniversary of crushing on Richard Armitage, I already wrote about first meeting John Thornton. It was “Look back… look back at me” that sealed the deal and forever stole my heart. That fourth episode really was everything. And oh my goodness, has it really been 14 years? I feel extra old now.

John Thornton awakened my interest in Richard Armitage, John Thornton inspired me to write fan fiction, John Thornton inspired me to go online and check out message boards and Armitage-related websites and blogs, John Thornton inspired me to actually read Elizabeth Gaskell for the first time, John Thornton still inspires me to watch some of or all of North & South again from time to time and John Thornton is on my bedroom wall (signed by Richard Armitage himself.)

For a while I thought it was only John Thornton who interested me but I have come to accept that it is something more than just John Thornton that keeps me hanging around Richard Armitage. I still can’t put my finger on what quality it is exactly that keeps me interested but I do know that whatever it is, Richard used it very effectively when he portrayed Mr. Thornton. Even now, after 14 years, a few looks at John Thornton’s intense gaze and furrowed brow can still make my heart skip a beat.

I used to watch a lot of N&S fan videos in those days and years when I first became a fan and later even made fan videos myself. I never made an N&S fan video (maybe I should rectify that situation but then again there already are so many good ones out there, it feels redundant now) but I have always enjoyed watching good John Thornton ones. This is one of those videos I have always loved, it has a lot of the captivating John Thornton gazes in it. The video was made by Delicateblossom who was one of my fave fan video makers at the time when she used to make them.

John Thornton will hold a piece of my heart forever. Sigh.

For auld lang syne, Sarah & George

Beware of A Place to Call Home final season spoilers in this post!

One of my favourite TV series, A Place to Call Home, ended in October after 6 seasons. I have loved this show and will miss it! I wouldn’t have minded a few more seasons…

Things worked out for the much troubled Sarah (Marta Dusseldorp) and George (Brett Climo)…

vlcsnap-2018-12-29-11h32m19s059vlcsnap-2018-12-29-11h32m35s801vlcsnap-2018-12-29-11h34m08s909… and for the rest of the characters on the show. A special mention for season 6 goes out to Carolyn (Sara Wiseman), Jack (Craig Hall), Elizabeth (Noni Hazlehurst) and Roy (Frankie J. Holden) who really tugged at my heartstrings this final season..

The show ends with the message that there are always challenges ahead (some are briefly shown), but all challenges are faced together and can therefore be borne. Beautiful.

Right after the final episode aired in October, I started making a Sarah & George centric farewell fan video but then I got stuck fairly early into making it. It was a challenge trying to keep it short and even now there are more clips I wish I could have included, but then the video would have been endless. Also, real life events interfered and so I never got around to finishing it… until now! Be aware that if you watch the video it will contain spoilers for the show.  YouTube has alas blocked the video in Australia and New Zealand, so here are links to the video on Vimeo…

… as well as on YouTube…

The video ends with “For Auld Lang Syne” – it feels fitting for the end of the show but also for this time of year, at the end of the year. It feels like the video was meant to be finished now and not earlier.

Thank you cast and crew of A Place to Call Home for 6 great seasons of a wonderful show! I’m already missing you…

Say my name, over and over again

Two years ago, when Berlin Station first aired, I got a little kick out of the fact that one of the characters on it was named Esther (played by Mina Tander). And not just any character, but the woman would turn out to be a love-interest for Daniel Miller (Richard Armitage)!

Berlin Station S02E07 (13)

A year after Berlin Station I discovered Suits and got caught up in (binge-)watching that. In season 5 there was a guest character on the show who was also called Esther (played by Amy Acker), the sister of one of the main lawyers on the show (Louis Litt played by Rick Hoffman). She became a fling for the main guy Harvey Specter (played by Gabriel Macht).


Ever since then I have been meaning to make an ‘Esther’ fan video in which Richard Armitage and Gabriel Macht say my name, over and over again. Now that I have finally finished watching the second season of Berlin Station, I finally decided the time had come. So, here it is, the video I finished making this weekend, featuring my name (said by more people than just Richard and Gabriel)…

When I was a kid, I really didn’t like my name. In time I made peace with it and now, over the years, I guess I have finally gotten used to it; I have warmed to it in such a way that I am now happy enough with it. This video is all silliness, and feels somewhat narcissistic, but it was nice hearing my name on the lips of actors I like and love and it’s been fun documenting it in this video!  🙂

James Stewart rediscovered

For some reason, and I wasn’t sure how until I started digging through my memory of the past few weeks, I’ve started watching Jimmy Stewart movies (when not distracted by Richard Armitage at a film festival in Newcastle and all the subsequent reports and pictures streaming in). Now, I’ve always known James Stewart, have always really liked him, he’s one of the favourite actors of my younger brother but he never made it to the top of my “I love him/her so much!” actors list. I think that has now changed!

Digging through my memory, I think it was the fault of falling into an old 1943 movie about six or so weeks ago with Jean Arthur called The More the Merrier (if you want to see a very sexy love scene from the early 1940s that also makes you smile, check out this scene from that film!). I happened upon this scene on YouTube, then found the whole movie and watched it and really enjoyed it! Charles Coburn was truly excellent and funny in it (he won an Oscar for that role; luckily I didn’t find out till after I had seen and enjoyed the movie that Coburn had been a white supremacist!) but I was also very impressed with Jean Arthur! So, I jumped to the only other movie I knew with her, called Mr Smith Goes to Washington, with James Stewart (I now know she also did Shane, still need to re-watch that one). I had once seen Mr Smith many years ago but barely remembered it, so I watched it again and that is when James Stewart blew me away (don’t get me wrong, Jean Arthur is very good in this too!). So, after watching that, I have been binge-watching all of Stewart’s movies! Well, a whole lot of them, in any case.

What I think really hit me with James Stewart this time around is how extremely well he listens and reacts to others! I was pondering that over the past few weeks and then yesterday I was reading an obituary the NY Times had done on him where he is quoted as once having said, “I don’t act, I react”. I don’t quite agree with the “I don’t act” part. I see how the criticism can be that he is often himself in movies but I think he does something way cleverer than that: every character is quite different but somehow he takes every character and he finds a way to also inject them with his own humanity. What I do very much agree with is the “I react” part of that quote. Come to think of it, I think he was one of the best ‘reactors’ I have ever seen! He is an ‘everyman’ and very human in his expressions, that makes him so very relatable.

In his pre-war movies he starred in some dramas (like Mr Smith…), there was his first Western (Destry Rides Again) where he played a pacifist lawman (co-starring with Marlene Dietrich) but mostly the movies were lighter, romantic comedies, with The Shop Around the Corner being my absolute favourite one. That movie I have seen several times and re-watching it confirmed yet again what an adorable movie it is and what great chemistry James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan had (she helped kick-start his career and was also a close friend). In these early movies you can see that James Stewart had great comedic timing and a dry humour, which has served him well throughout his career. It looks like he is never purposely funny and yet he is funny. There is light-heartedness about him that I love, like in the scenes you see in this fan video I saw on YouTube…

To me, his most brilliant comedic performance, again where his character doesn’t mean to be funny but he really is, was a scene from The Philadelphia Story that he did with Cary Grant. The story goes that this scene wasn’t rehearsed, that they just played (and shot it) in one take. James Stewart is drunk and, in the middle of the night, visits Cary Grant’s house. Apparently the part where he starts hiccupping wasn’t scripted at all (neither was Cary Grant’s “Excuse me” response) and you can see that the men are struggling to keep it together, but keep it together they did. James Stewart won an Oscar for his role in this film, and I have a sneaking suspicion that, while he was excellent in the film, him winning the Oscar may have been because of this little scene. Here it is, the very funny “Oh, C.K. Dexter Haaaaaaaven” scene…

But he wasn’t only good at comedy, one of his stand-out dramatic performances was in the first movie he did after leaving the army (he had been a commanding fighter pilot in WWII), the very famous It’s a Wonderful Life. James Stewart’s time in the army did something to him, I think, in that it gave him some more gravitas, like in this heartbreaking scene from It’s a Wonderful Life which is so superbly acted (as is the whole film)… Really, this was a brilliant role for him and such a lovely lovely movie!

He also did the movie Harvey in 1950 after having played the role on Broadway and on the London stage. I’d always heard of the movie and had read about it and knew it was supposed to be legendary (Stewart was nominated for an Oscar for it) but I only actually watched it recently during this binge phase. I think that this role has now gone straight to the top of my fave James Stewart performances ever! If you haven’t seen it, go and watch it. James Stewart as Elwood P. Dowd, who has a 6 ft 8 invisible white rabbit (but not invisible to him) called Harvey as his best friend, is just absolutely charming and so heartwarming. I swear, it’s one of the most endearing characters I have ever seen and yes, unintentionally funny as well. Apparently it was one of his own favourite characters too. Here, have a look at one of my fave quotes of the film…

After the war James Stewart did a few very good Hitchcock movies (my fave of those is Rear Window with Grace Kelly) and he became famous yet again for his Westerns (he made many!). For almost all the Westerns he did, he rode a horse he had come to love, named Pie, and he wore the same cowboy hat in almost all those movies as well…

I’ve seen a few of those Westerns and there is a quality of tenderness in the man, despite some of the acts of violence the characters played by Stewart display. There’s a vulnerability there in Jimmy Stewart’s eyes that makes me actually enjoy watching these Westerns (not normally a genre I enjoy that much) and in some films where Indians play a role, they are even humanized instead of demonized, like in Broken Arrow (from 1950) where he helps negotiate a peace with Apaches. I think my fave Western of his is The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (where he doesn’t ride a horse or wear his hat) and co-stars with John Wayne (whom I really dislike and don’t like much in this movie either). However, I do love James Stewart’s character, who is a man who believes in the power of words over violence and yet finds himself in a situation where he needs to resort to violence.

James Stewart Man Who Shot Liberty ValanceAnother surprise to me was that I hadn’t remembered how good he was at being the romantic lead and how passionate his body language is. Again, his unparalleled reaction skills truly show! And being so tall helps him too. The way he looks at the women he loves on-screen, the way he reacts to them and then the way his tall frame totally envelopes them when he embraces them, holds them oh so tight and kisses them is just absolutely beautiful! In most movies I saw, I found he managed to manufacture great chemistry with his leading ladies. In fact, I just had to make a fan video about James Stewart being in love with his leading ladies!

The first scene I used in my fan video is from It’s a Wonderful Life with the beautiful Donna Reed opposite him. The tension and subtext just jump off the screen and punch you in the gut in this phone scene (that I cut somewhat but you can view in its entirety here, including what happens right before that phone part starts). The reacting, the breathing, the outburst of a man trying to fight his feelings but being overpowered by them – I can’t praise this scene enough! The role of George Bailey, to me, may have been his greatest romantic role ever… Anyway, here’s the video I made.

He did several of his early movies with Margaret Sullavan, someone else made a nice video for that…

After the war his on-screen wife for a few movies was June Allyson, whom he also had great chemistry with…

I also really liked him with Vera Miles in Liberty Valance and another movie called The FBI Story. The film itself is not that great, but Jimmy and Vera really do work very well together. Here, take a look at this scene of them together in that movie…

In reading up on him, I think I would rarely have agreed with him politically. He was famously best friends with Henry Fonda since the early 1930s and despite vehemently disagreeing with each other’s political views, they remained close friends until Fonda’s death in 1982.

Maybe we could learn something from these two men who had such opposing political views and yet were such friends (apparently their hobby was building model airplanes together!). Jimmy Stewart really seems to have been a humanitarian and I always respond well to that. I also love that he was so happily married to his wife Gloria for 45 years until she died in 1994. He became father to her sons of a previous marriage and they had twin girls together.

Apparently his final words before he died at age 89 in 1997 were, “I’m going to be with Gloria now.”

Just as everyone underestimates Elwood P. Dowd in Harvey, I think I may have underestimated James Stewart. I always liked him before, but now I can honestly say I love him.