It was the laziest of times. It wasn’t the worst of times though!
Holiday stress. Job interviews gone bad. My bald spot getting bigger. Mass shootings now a normal occurrence. News reporters being too politically correct. Dirty politicians. What’s a sensitive girl like me to do?
I’ll tell ya what to do!
Keep those pajamas on. Don’t bathe or shower. Stay in bed. Get that remote.
Yeah, I need a pedicure but who cares? It’s winter. I would rather laze and watch old movies on TV!
The morning started innocently and productively enough. While enjoying my morning crack, drug, cup of coffee, I grabbed the remote in order to turn the TV on and educate myself in the current events that may have occurred the evening before. You know the little things—like mass shootings, rapes, murder—it’s just a shot away. It’s just a shot away.
Yes. Merry Clayton’s voice tells it like it is with all the bad stuff that’s going on around us.
Instead, I stopped and went numb when I saw the Turner Movie Classic channel’s guide. “David Copperfield” was just about to start. Followed by “A Tale of Two Cities”. Followed by “Great Expectations”. Followed by “Oliver Twist”. It didn’t even matter that Nicolas Nickleby and A Christmas Carol were not on the roster. The movies that were being shown would have me being lazy from 6:30 in the morning until 3:30 in the afternoon!
What. A. Delightful. Day! I’m tired of the reality binging. Andy Cohen’s Bravo franchises of tacky housewives and other entertaining trollops can’t hold a candle to the trials and tribulations of any of Charles Dickens’ main characters!
The only thing I would exercise would be my right to lie in bed all day and stare entranced at my television set!
With Chippy beside me, my day was planned and started off with David Copperfield.
My Chippy is so intelligent. It was about time he learned about the works of Charles Dickens to begin with!
How did Charles Dickens do it? What an imagination! His stories are dark—and every now and then there is a sprinkling of humor and gaiety, but those moments are few and far between. The theme remains the same wealth v. poverty. Loss of loved ones. Abandonment. Dread. And there is always that optimistic glimmer of light at the end. (Well, maybe not that much light at the end of A Tale of Two Cities).
He always had a great story. Oh..and the characters! In all of his books, he managed to have colorful and flamboyant characters who were good and kind and funny—and they were a sprinkling amid the torn, sad, pathetic and mean ones who graced the books and films come to life!
There could never be a remake with an all-star cast like this one!
These are the original soap operas! David Copperfield played with such gut-wrenching drama by the adorable Freddie Bartholomew.
I wish the child actors of today were even one iota as great as Freddie Bartholomew. He was so incredibly melodramatic without being precocious! I cried at his David Copperfield. I cried!
His widowed mother Clara is such a fragile being. She ends up marrying the awful Mr. Murdstone, played by Basil Rathbone. Mr. Murdstone, along with his sister Jane, wreak havoc with abusive toward David. His only friend and confidante is the Nurse Peggotty (what a name—right???)
Baaahhh-zil Rathbone is so believable as such a nasty Mr. Murdstone. If he were MY stepfather, I would have killed him!
And when David’s poor mother dies, he decides to walk to Dover from London, your heart breaks! During his run or rather, walk away, David meets up with Mr. Wilkins Micawber, played by the great W.C. Fields—comic relief! Micawber is a pleasant con artist of sorts.
Freddie Bartholomew and W.C. Fields were quite the team!
From then, the film shows the difficult travel through visuals of city milestones and poor little David, becoming raggier and dirtier with distance. When he finally reaches Aunt Betsy’s home, she faints at the sight of him. I would too—those shoes were horrific!
Things are brighter at Aunt Betsy’s. She has a boarder at her home, a simple and daft character—Mr. Dick, and the both of them offer humor to the story. Betsy seems prim and proper but when Murdstone and his sister show up to take David away, Betsy’s compassionate side shines through. Life gets good for our little David.
More comic relief in the form of Mr. Dick and Aunt Betsy. Edna May Oliver is my new favorite actress!
David is sent to school in Canterbury and stays at the home of Mr. Whitfield, Aunt Betsy’s business manager. David and Whitfield’s daughter, Agnes, become close friends and kindred spirits.
The “humble” crook, Uriah Heep and young David
Lots more drama—Whitfield has a clerk, Uriah Heep (not the rock group), who claims humility, but in reality is a miserly cheat and scoundrel. David reunites with the wickedly funny Micawber who ends up working for Uriah Heep.
Copperfield, much to the dismay of Agnes Whitfield, ends up marrying Dora. Dora is basically a bimbo—she can’t cook or clean. She’s like a two-year old and is played by none other than Maureen O’Sullivan, Mia Farrow’s mother.
Talk about dumb–Dora was as dumb as they come. Grown up David was love struck for her! Men–they never change!
She gets sick and dies and it is discovered that Uriah Heep is a creep and Micawber saves the day and Whitfield’s money and David and Agnes get married and live happily ever after!
All’s well that ends well. David and Agnes finally end up together. Aunt Betsy is happy as a little clam! Its so filled with gaiety and wonderment!
Next up was “A Tale of Two Cities”.
I’m in love with Ronald Colman. Actually many of the cast of A Tale of Two Cities were in David Copperfield!
The story takes place between London and Paris during the beginning of the French Revolution
Forget Le Miz–THIS group from A Tale of Two Cities was much more revolutionary!
. In a nutshell, nice French doctor released from 18 years as prisoner in the Bastille.
Poor Dr. Manette. He looked awful when Lucie came to bring him to England. His daughter Lucie is supposed to be all of 17 years old. She looks about 30!
One of his workers who now owns a wine shop is “hiding” him until the doctor’s banker and daughter come to bring him to England. The doctor was imprisoned because of a bad and evil aristocrat (dastardly played by Basil Rathbone).
Rathbone rocked the evil Marquis St. Evremonde. I want that hat. I want those boots.
Wine shop owner’s wife is a revolutionary extremist. She hates everyone She wants more heads than ISIS!
Blanche Yurka was fantastic as the extremist revolutionary, Madame Defarge. She gave new meaning to the phrase “off with their heads”!
Kind nephew of evil aristocrat is on ship to England with doctor and his daughter. He wants nothing to do with evil aristocracy.
After getting a good look at Charles Darnay, the handsome aristocrat, I’m sure Madame Defarge wanted BOTH of his heads! Yes she did!
Nephew and daughter hit it off. Sparks are a flyin’.
Sydney Carton, a jaded, drunken but intelligent attorney ends up being the morale of the story.
I’m diggin’ this unkempt Ronald Colman. He’s so intense!
When aristocrat nephew is manipulated into returning to France and jailed, Carton tries to help. In the meantime, he falls in love with Lucie, the doctor’s daughter who is now married to aristocratic Charles Darnay.
The brooding Carton, still unkempt but hot, loves the angelic and very married Lucie. Isn’t Elizabeth Allan beautiful as Lucie? check out her brows and her matte lipstick!
Both men resemble each other. Charles Darnay, the aristocrat, is scheduled to lose his head. Carton devises a plan to switch himself with Darnay. The story ends happy for some but not for Carton. It’s incredibly sad.
Waiting to lose their heads, Carton helps the servant of an aristocrat come to terms with her fate.
One of the best scenes in the movie, however, was the fight scene between Miss Poss and Madame Defarge. Moss Poss is Lucie Manette’s (the doctor’s daughter) nurse servant. These two old gals are fighting it out knocking into tables, rolling on the floor—it’s greatness!
This was THE epic girl fight. It didn’t end too well for Madame Defarge!
My personal favorite Charles Dickens book-as-movie was next. The 1946 version of “Great Expectations” and don’t let anyone tell you any different. This is the best adaptation. Oh, I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that David Lean wrote the screenplay?
This poster says it all. The movie was filled with everything. It “introduced” the very young Jean Simmons. She was such a bitch too!
The movie starts out dark and eerie and young Pip who just happens to be in a grave yard, is grabbed by an escaped convict who threatens him if he tells anyone about this convict’s whereabouts. Pip promises not to rat him out and brings him food and a bottle of brandy in the wee hours of the next morning. The convict is grateful to our Pip.
The movie opens with Pip at his parents’ grave. Who does this in the early morning hours????
I would have that same look on my face, too, if I ran into a convict who looked like that!
Pip isn’t exactly the picture of happiness. He lives with his miserable and abusive sister and her husband. Her husband is a blacksmith and is incredibly kind to Pip. His sister is a real bitter piece of work. She ends up dying from being attacked. Thankfully, Biddy, the girl who is hired to help Pip’s bitchy sister after her attack, and Joe fall in love and eventually marry.
In the meantime, the loony spinster, Miss Havisham, who lives up the road *cough* requests Pip’s services to come and keep company for Havisham’s adopted and beautiful daughter, Estella.
All Miss Havisham wants out of life is to have Pip’s heart broken by Estella! I think Miss Havisham needs a good protein treatment on that head of hair of hers!
Estella is an entitled bitch in training. Miss Havisham gets off on this because she was left hanging at the altar and hates men. She wants Estella to emotionally destroy poor Pip-as if he doesn’t have enough on his plate with that nasty sister of his.
These two dolls are an emotional tag team.
Time marches on. Pip is now a blacksmith apprentice. He is still wheeling Miss Havisham around and Estella is now a grown up bitch—the original “Mean Girl”.
One day, there is a knock at the door. Pip gets news that he has a benefactor and must leave within a week for London—where he will become a gentleman. Pip thinks his benefactor is Miss Havisham. Um. Pip. Really? Havisham wants to destroy you! Wake up boy!
My favorite part of the movie. Pip in London as a gentleman. John Mills looks fabulous in his top hats, frilly shirts and slim cut Victorian suits. A real dandy I must say!
John Mills, left as Pip, with his friend and roommate. Check out the outfit on Pip. The bow. The bow. I wish I had a bow like that for Oona’s hair when she was a little girl!
Anyway, Pip goes to London, becomes a gentleman and sometime later, one night, there is a knock on the door. It’s the convict that Pip fed and didn’t rat out. He ended up in Australia, became a sheep farmer, hit the big-time and amassed a fortune. He was the benefactor who looked upon Pip as a son. It gets better. It turns out he was also Estella’s father. Is this juicy or what????
In true Dickens fashion, the convict gets caught—again, and this time ends up in prison. He gets deathly ill. Pip keeps visiting him and our dear convict dies.
Pip always did the right thing–and he stayed with his convict benefactor until the end. This was a misty-eyed scene for sure.
Pip ends up in a melancholy mood, goes to visit Havisham’s home one more time and sees it is for sale. He also notices the front gate is ajar. He enters into the gloomy, dark and eerie home. He goes to the darkened room that Havisham occupied and what does he see? Estella. Sitting in Havisham’s chair.
This is a very confrontational scene. Pip FINALLY puts his foot down and Estella remains cold and icy!
Pip rips the dark drapes off the windows. He opens the windows to allow the beams of light to shine in on the room. He shakes Estella and tells her she “shan’t” end up like Havisham. Estella starts mumbling about her not getting married—yada yada.
This is one sexy Pip scene. Thank God he took that huge bow off!!
The movie ends with Pip and Estella hand in hand walking out of the mansion and into the sunlit gardens.
Last was “Oliver Twist”. We are all familiar with the musical “Oliver”. Right? “Oliver Twist” is so much better because of its darkness and somber mood. David Lean surely knows how to write a depressing screenplay!
Last Dickens of the day. Bonaparte was very concerned that I did nothing but binge on these movies–scared the “Dickens” outta him!
Poor Oliver Twist. Nobody wanted him. And he was so cute. I know I would not be able to resist that cute face! The orphanage doesn’t want him—because he got the short straw and he asked for more gruel, he was labeled “obstinate”. He becomes boy for sale.
I would have given Oliver a steak. Rare. With a nice Madeira sauce and mushrooms, mashed potatoes, peas and for dessert, to keep it healthy and gluten-free, a slice of flourless chocolate cake!
A funeral director buys him. Oliver is treated like garbage. He runs away.
While in the slums of London, The Artful Dodger spots him and brings Oliver Twist to Fagin’s lair. The Dodger was played by Anthony “Stop The World I Want To Get Off” Newley. He was much better looking as he aged!
Newley looked much better as he got older–but he was great as The Artful Dodger
Now here’s where it gets interesting. In the past I’ve only seen bits and pieces of this version and never paid much attention to Alec Guiness’ Fagin. I couldn’t get past the fact that he sounded more like a student of the Yeshiva than a crook. It was weird. This is Victorian England for cryin’ out loud! Besides, he looked kind of ethnic to put it mildly. Turns out there was a huge controversy about that. The production was deemed anti-semetic. I have to say—I agree with that. Watch for yourself and come back and tell me what you think.
The visual of Alec Guiness as Fagin was very disturbing..and when I Googled, I found out my feelings were justified!
In the meantime, Oliver is being taught to observe the pickpocketing expertise of Artful Dodger and the other naughty boys. In a mix-up, Oliver is blamed for the crime the others carried out and taken to be tried. The man who was the victim, Mr. Brownlow, is compassionate and ends up taking Oliver Twist home to nurse and take care of.
Poor Oliver Twist finally gets the good treatment he deserves–but not for long!
When Fagin and his peer, the wicked Bill Sykes find this out they go bat shit crazy in fear of being found out. Bill Sykes, for some ungodly reason, has a girlfriend. Nancy. She’s the good bad girl.
Bill Sykes, the gun-crazed bully takes Oliver with him on his escape.
As Oliver Twist’s bad luck would have it, while running an errand, Nancy spots him and goes all “he’s my brother” in front of a crowd and Twist ends up back with Fagin.
Nancy feels like shit and decides to track down Brownlow to tell him where Oliver is. Uh Oh. Sykes finds out and murders Nancy! Bad move for Sykes and everyone else except Oliver.
Long story shortened. Sykes grabs Oliver and makes a run. Fagin tries to hide but the crowds all know the dirty deeds that have been done. Sykes accidentally hangs himself and Oliver Twist is reunited with Brownlow.
And—in true Dickens fashion, it turns out that Brownlow is really Oliver’s grandfather! This can only happen in the world of Charles Dickens!
The movie ends with Oliver and Brownlow and Brownlow’s maid walking toward the Brownlow mansion in the sunshine!
There is always a ray of optimism peeking out of the darkness of Dickens. That’s why I love the books and the movies. There are interesting characters with fantastic names. It’s just pure entertainment.
And that is how I spent my day yesterday and I am not ashamed! And I just wanted to share my laziness with you!
Just in case you may not be familiar with Anthony Newley, here’s a clip from the old TV show “Hollywood Palace”. He’s singing “What Kind of Fool Am I?”. Its awesome greatness because he is soooooooooooooooooooooooo dramatic when he sings! Enjoy! XOXOXOXO