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Tony Grist

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Back From Kent [Sep. 6th, 2006|03:49 pm]
Tony Grist
We've been in Kent since Saturday. There's an invisible wall stretched across the country. Above Birmingham there's rain, rain and more rain and below Birmingham they're suffering from drought and the trees are dying. 

I kept notes while we were away with a view to blogging them when I got back. 

I find I wrote a page on Sunday about whether Lord Olivier was gay or not. Frankly, who cares?

And I have a note telling me to write something about talk radio. Basically, we were in this antique shop in Goudhurst and the owner had talk radio on as mood music. Isn't talk radio frightful? Hoarse-voiced males with eyes like hard-boiled aggs (I could see them with the inward eye that is the bliss of solitude) roaring at one another about bloody foreigners. Did it put me in a mood to buy antiques? No, it did not.

Monday we were in Cranbrook buying cheese. The cheese guy in Cranbrook used to be a wine merchant and brings the same kind of connoisseurship to his cheese  he must  once have brought to his wine. We bought £25 worth of the stuff .

That night the sheep next door broke into my mother's kitchen garden and stripped her raspberry canes and trampled everything else. There's a new lamb in the flock. The owners have called her Bonus on account of her having been conceived by accident long after the closing of the official season for sheepy sex.

Yesterday was my mother's birthday. In  the evening we took my her out for dinner at The Blue Bell in Somewhere-or-other. A boozed up  ex-soldier bought us all a drink and insisted on waltzing with my ma and calling her "gal". A good time was had by all. 

And now we're home and while there's no rain this very instant there has been and there's going to be. 
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Comments:
From: senordildo
2006-09-07 11:23 pm (UTC)
I actually finished reading the latest Olivier bio a few days ago. According to that, Olivier had one homosexual fling but that seems to have been it--no affairs with Noel Coward or Danny Kaye. But Olivier had a feminine side--his Richard III flirts outrageously with the viewer, continually batting those hypnotic eyes. Some forms of genius seem to require a certain form of bisexuality--if not literally expressed than dramatically expressed.
Along with John Barrymore, Olivier is probably my favorite actor, and I've been rewatching his films recently. If your familiar with Chekhov's Three Sisters, I recommend tracking down his film adaptation from 1970. You need to be familiar with the play because the sound quality on the DVD is quite substandard, and it's hard to make out what people are saying sometimes.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2006-09-08 08:16 am (UTC)
I'm inclined to agree with you. Olivier says in his own autobiography that he was tempted once but never actually went the whole hog. I don't see why he should have lied.

I've always been disappointed in Olivier's film work. I don't think he ever quite got the hang of movie acting. My own favourite grand old British thespian is Sir John Gielgud.

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From: senordildo
2006-09-08 09:41 pm (UTC)
With the exception of Bunny Lake Is Missing, Olivier wasn't really suited for playing actual people onscreen--he's better suited to play Kings, noblemen, or weirdos. On the other hand, his Husrtwood in Sister Carrie is said by many to be his best performance on film, and Hurstwood is a very down-to-earth character. Having not seen the film yet (I want to read the Dreiser novel first) I can't say for sure. But he was definitely an odd sort of screen actor, though that's part of why I like him. Roger Lewis wrote a typically unhinged book on Olivier that's worth looking through if you've ever got time to kill, though his earlier book on Peter Sellers is much better.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2006-09-09 07:54 am (UTC)
I love Lewis's book on Sellers.

Do you know the album track where Sellers recites A Hard Day's Night in the style of Lord Larry's Richard III?
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From: senordildo
2006-09-09 09:34 am (UTC)
Yes--I remmeber thinking that Sellers didn't sound quite like Olivier as I remembered him in Richard III, but perhaps my memory was faulty.
I'm glad you loved Lewis's Sellers bio--it's probably the best biography of a film star I've ever read.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2006-09-09 10:35 am (UTC)
And what is strange is that, for all the revelations about what a monster he was, I finished Lewis's book loving Sellers more than ever.

For me, Sellers not Olivier is the greatest British actor of the 20th century.
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From: senordildo
2006-09-09 11:00 am (UTC)
Lewis would probably agree with you on that point. Some of the negative reviewers missed the point that Lewis may have portrayed Sellers as a shit of superhuman stature, but he also made the greatest case for Sellers's artistry. No one else went to the trouble to track down forgotten films like The Blockhouse to show how Sellers's genius manifested itself. If I have any regrets, it's that Sellers hit it big in the US, while Spike Milligan remains pretty much unknown here (though he did have an influence on people like the Firesign theatre troupe).
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2006-09-09 06:27 pm (UTC)
I believe the Blockhouse is out on DVD- I must try and track it down.

Thanks to Lewis I had a look at some of Sellers' less well known movies. The one that really impressed me was Hoffman.

I'm not sure that international stardom did Sellers much good. Almost all his best work- including the two Kubrick movies- was done in England. The prime exception (and it's one of my favourite movies of all time) is Being There.

So maybe it's as just as well that Milligan never made it to Hollywood. They'd have blanded him out, I think.
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From: (Anonymous)
2006-09-09 10:17 pm (UTC)
I agree that mega-stardom probably rotted Sellers. I should have clarified that I wish Milligan had had achieved some of the fame Sellers enjoyed, but but more as a comedian than as a movie star--in the sense that the Pythons made it big in the US. Had PBS decided to run the Q series, or if the Goon Show had been more widely promoted here, Milligan would have found himself with an even larger fanbase to work with, in the same way that the Pythons were able to fund their later films because they knew they'd make money in America.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2006-09-10 08:25 am (UTC)
Milligan got/gets a raw deal over here as well. For some reason (political correctness?) the "Q" series never gets re-run on TV- and I don't believe it's available on DVD either. At the time of its airing I thought it was funnier and considerably more radical than Python, but memory fades and I've no way of testing whether I was right or not.
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2006-09-08 10:07 pm (UTC)
It is thanks to you that every single time I get out cheese from the refrigerator I remember your blog and think, like a mantra: "The cheese will save me."

Forever more it will be in my mind! Help me!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2006-09-09 07:52 am (UTC)
Use the Force, Jackie...
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