Tuesday, October 20, 2015

THE HIRELING 1973

As a huge fan of Gosford Park and Downton Abbey, I harbor a special weakness for romantically rendered, period-precise ruminations on the post-war decline of Britain’s aristocracy and the erosion of its class system. There’s that and much more in Alan Bridges’ (The Return of the Soldier) superb adaptation of L.P. Hartley’s (The Go-Between) 1957 novel, The Hireling – wherein the tentative reformation of a shell-shocked England serves as backdrop and counterpoint to the unorthodox relationship forged between a hired limousine driver and his society-class employer. 
Sarah Miles as Lady Helen Franklin
Robert Shaw as Steven Ledbetter
Peter Egan as Captain Hugh Cantrip
Elizabeth Sellars as Lady Franklin's Mother
The first time we see Lady Helen Franklin, she appears to be lost in an absent-minded daze, staring blankly out at a pond from behind a chain-link fence surrounding what looks to be a home in the British countryside (people peering from behind barriers will be a recurring motif in the film). It is indeed a home, of sorts, as it turns out Lady Franklin is a patient at a “rest cure” sanatorium for the rich and titled. It's a sprawling, mental-health facility whose tasteful opulence adheres to British “keeping up appearances” standards of discretion by not betraying its true function; the grounds more resembling a country estate than a hospital.

Lady Franklin is recuperating from a nervous breakdown and suicide attempt brought on by the deaths – suffered over a brief but unspecified period of time – of both her father and her husband. Deaths over which she feels so much guilt and remorse, life has virtually ceased to exist for her. 
Little is known of Lady Franklin at this point, but from our short acquaintance it's clear this woman is among the walking wounded. A fragile, ragdoll of a figure who appears distant, distracted, and barely able to keep it together. In spite of all this, her doctor (Lyndon Brook) insists the time has come for her to return to “normal life,” and so with brusque solicitude, he discharges her into the temporary care of chauffeur service driver, Steven Ledbetter (Shaw), the titular hireling enlisted by Lady Franklin’s mother (Sellars) to transport her daughter home to London.

It's in this scene that The Hireling’s narrative theme exploring the contrast of pragmatism vs. emotionalism as survival skills is first introduced. We first see it dramatized in the air of exasperated impatience the doctor and hospital staff displays toward their wealthy clientele. A gently condescending attitude indicative of the pervasive working-class belief that nervous breakdowns and the coddling of psychological maladies are luxuries only the well-to-do can afford.
Dr. Mercer (Lyndon Brook) expedites Lady Franklin's sanatorium release a little too eagerly
The drive to town – over the course of which, images of poverty and post-war squalor are glimpsed from behind the polished panes of Ledbetter’s pristine Rolls Royce – further emphasize the film’s themes of class division.
Foreshadowing later events, Ledbetter and Lady Franklin’s labored initial exchanges across the glass partition separating driver from passenger, display a sympathetic commonality, yet are fraught with caution and misunderstanding.
Ledbetter, a former sergeant major in the army, finds security and a sense of purpose in conforming to the arbitrary formalities of his station. Well-mannered and polite, he speaks only when spoken to, peppers his responses with “milady,” and is not above fabricating a backstory (he lies about the scope of his driver-for-hire business and makes up a wife and children) if it results in engendering client faith in his stability.
Ledbetter’s unquestioning acceptance of his lot, indeed, his appearance to have made the most of it, appeals a great deal to the floundering Lady Franklin, who has come to view her society life as both directionless and empty. As they drive, Ledbetter’s matter-of-fact directness has the effect of bringing Lady Franklin out of her shell. Enough so that she has the bravery to request he drive past the cemetery containing the bodies of the two most important men in her life, and just enough to prepare her for her impending reunion with her flinty mother (Sellars).
Lady Franklin suffers another small breakdown, but her mother is more concerned
the window washer will witness this lapse of decorum
Almost as a form of therapy, Lady Franklin hires Ledbetter to take her on drives twice weekly. His pragmatism inspiring in her a newfound independence, her taking him into her confidence serving to thaw his formal facade and disarm his firmly-rooted hostility toward the upper classes. Of course, their ostensibly professional arrangement is clearly one forged of a mutual rapport and affinity extending far beyond the boundaries of employer and hireling, yet it remains one neither party feels disposed to examine in depth until it’s too late.

Too late rears its head in Lady Franklin’s emerging self-reliance colliding with Ledbetter's rapidly accelerating infatuation with her. Too late also manifests in the triangular intrusion into their twosome, of the louche Captain Hugh Cantrip (Egan); a former political ally of Lady Franklin’s late husband, and, naturally, a gentleman of more appropriate social stature for Lady Franklin's company. Like all the characters in The Hireling, Cantrip is struggling with readjustment to life after the war. But the ease with which he insinuates himself into Lady Franklin’s life (coupled with a level of deception inarguably more injurious than Ledbetter’s) underscores Ledbetter’s deepest resentment: that the wealthy classes have always had an easier go of it, and that he is doomed to forever be on the outside looking in.
Lady Franklin's unorthodox request to sit in the front seat with Ledbetter dramatizes both the casual
familiarity the wealthy feel towards those in their employ, and the lack of equal license afforded the working-classes
In speaking of The Hireling at the Cannes Film Festival in 1973 (where it shared the Grand Prize with Jerry Schatzberg’s Scarecrow), actress Sarah Miles described it as “A tragedy of miscomprehension.” And indeed, The Hireling is at its most compelling when exploring the ways in which the rigid constraints of Britain’s class system perpetuate emotional and sexual repression. Set in 1923, The Hireling presents a world in which human beings reach out to one another from within the socially imposed/self-imposed cages of class and station. Behavior and motivation is clogged up in ritual, and emotions are caught up in antiquated modes of conduct which make it next to impossible for anyone to ever convey to someone else how they really feel. In situations where a person’s passions are as opaque and inaccessible internally as they are externally, human contact inevitably loses out.


WHAT I LOVE ABOUT THIS FILM
What I find most enjoyable about The Hireling (as I do Gosford Park and Downton Abbey) is its evocation of a time when one type of world was on its way out, clumsily making way for a new way of living and interacting. Without becoming heavy-handed, The Hireling uses the interwoven lives of its three main characters  –  all of whom represent a faction of Britain’s walking wounded, readjusting to post-war existence – to comment on the failings of the class system.
While our attention is called to the characters’ connection (Lady Franklin and Ledbetter ease each other’s loneliness) and contrasts (She’s more amenable to the dropping of class-based formalities than he); the film makes us subtly aware of the rigid inequities that always linger on the fringes (Lady  Franklin’s wealth and station afford her an interclass autonomy denied Ledbetter).
Lady Franklin asks Ledbetter to be her escort at an amateur boxing match
Time and time again it’s underscored that the working classes, when faced with tragedy and hardship, have no option but to be practical and “Get on with things, ” while the rich are tended to, sympathized with, and are afforded the luxury of breakdowns both emotional (Lady Franklin) and ethical (Capt. Cantrip). For example, Lady Franklin is ignorant to the fact that her maid, Mrs. Hansen (Patricia Lawrence), who appears to have been with her for some time, has a blind son; a fact of life never dwelled upon or grieved over by the devoted servant as she goes about her duties.
Patricia Lawrence as Mrs. Hansen
Similarly, as the film progresses, the once-fragile Lady Franklin comes to rebuild her life just as the life of the stalwart Ledbetter begins to unravel, yet she's not able to be there for him in the same manner he was there for her. Perhaps there is no real way in which she could be, for when presented with an opportunity to return his kindness, she does so very graciously and generously, but (to Ledbetter's dismay) at the cost of having to reveal she doesn't know his first name. These sequence of events only further serve to solidify the perspective that Britain's post-war resurgence was achieved largely on the backs of its working classes, yet once the rich were reinstated and their lives returned to normal, little in the way of reciprocal attention was given to the labor classes and working poor who made it possible.

PERFORMANCES
I’m afraid I was a little too enamored of fellow Brits Julie Christie and Susannah York to have paid much attention to Sarah Miles during her brief heyday in the 70s. My strongest memory of her (outside of her endorsement of drinking her own urine twice daily as a kind of golden, pee-scented fountain of youth. I've seen recent pictures of her and she looks great, so maybe she's not just pissing up a rope, so to speak) is the hubbub during the filming of the otherwise forgettable 1973 Burt Reynolds western, The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing. It involved the mysterious circumstances surrounding the on-location death (murder?suicide?) of Miles’ personal assistant/lover. A scandalous event that not only ended her marriage to screenwriter Robert Bolt (Lawrence of Arabia), but successfully stalled her ascendance as a leading lady of the 70s.
Over the years I’ve come to enjoy Sarah Miles’ performances in The Servant (1963) and Ryan’s Daughter (1970) a great, but in my limited exposure to her work, The Hireling stands out as perhaps her best. 
I saw The Hireling for the first time only last year, but I know had I seen it in 1973; it would have been a lasting favorite. Miles displays an amazing range and brings a great deal of nuance and depth to a role in which her character’s true motivations and feelings are not always clear to us (or her).

Two years before his iconic role as Quint in Jaws (1975) made him the late-70s man of the hour, Robert Shaw’s appearance in The Sting eclipsed his much finer work in The Hireling, released the same year. As the brutish but sensitive chauffeur, Ledbetter, Shaw carves out a complex figure of concealed motives and glowering resentments. In fact, much of The Hireling plays out like an emotional suspense film in trying to fathom the depth of Ledbetter’s sincerity or the objective of his deceptions. Shaw's is a surpassingly intense performance I rank among his best. 
Brooding Brute
Watching Robert Shaw's powerful performance, I couldn't help thinking that outside of Idris Elba and Daniel Craig, contemporary films are lacking in men and overpopulated with boys

THE STUFF OF FANTASY
I really love the look of The Hireling, with its deceptively lush, romantic imagery and rich period detail. A sense of time and place is conveyed superbly, especially the attention given to differentiating the working class locations and those of the wealthy. And in I mean that there is no heavy-handed condescension favoring the rich; intriguingly, the film captures both social strata in a manner emphasizing the ways in which the characters are trapped by their surroundings.
Indicative of the repressive nature of Britain's class system The Hireling frequently films the principals in surroundings emphasizing borders and separation. Mirrors, windows, and reflective surfaces abound, conveying characters' dual nature and motivations, along with the inability to sometimes see what is right in front of them.
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THE STUFF OF DREAMS
I've always entertained the theory that Americans eat up movies about class struggles in the UK because it allows certain factions of our population to enjoy narratives of class-based conflict without the guilt.
In America, we still have a long way to go towards being able to present our own class issues (aka: racism) in ways that aren't wholly designed to make white audiences feel liberally guilty while reassuring them that the oppressed classes aren't really as mad at them as they fear.
In British films, the downtrodden classes are afforded their humanity, allowed to express their rage, and even allowed not to forgive. At its core, The Hireling is pretty vicious to the aristocracy, and with good reason.
Those expecting The Hireling to be a Driving Miss Daisy-esque heartwarmer, will be shocked to find it a dark, fairly scathing indictment of the upper class.
Here in the States, we aren't that evolved yet. It's still the duty of African-Americans in films to take the moral high-road and never really express anger or resentment, lest they lose audience sympathy. The status quo can't be sufficiently criticized because in all likelihood, Hollywood's typical behind-the-scenes lack of diversity (thanks for reminding us of that, Matt Damon) is such that there are too many wealthy special interests to protect.
So, British films wherein the oppressed and the oppressor are both white tend to be the spoonful of sugar that helps the class struggle/ discrimination medicine go down on these shores.
Personally, I find it cathartic to see movies in which servants and oppressed classes are afforded the dimensionality to view their lot in life in ways far from noble or heroic. I love the potential for conflict it presents, and the opportunity to show the curious symbiosis that exists between the haves and have-nots. It's certainly more authentic, and, as is the case with The Hireling, makes for a far more layered and thoughtful examination of the emotional consequence of social structures designed to support commerce, labor, and the status quo; but calls upon people to suppress all that's human and instinctual within themselves.


"We all have our place in life."

Copyright © Ken Anderson

23 comments:

  1. I've never heard of this before--although I love "The Go-Between" (both the novel and the film), another Hartley work about how the upper-class use and amuse themselves with the working-classes and then rely on their position and wealth to cover up everything. I was also a huge fan of "Upstairs, Downstairs," which may be one of the reasons I can't get into "Downton Abbey"--it strikes me as Upstairs, Downstairs-lite (don't hate me!). Anyway, I'll certainly seek this film out now.

    One small comment: about halfway through your essay, you refer to Miles's character as Lady Hamilton. Did I miss a name change--or were you channeling your inner Vivian Leigh fan?

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    1. Ha! Oh, my god...you have no idea how I struggled NOT to revert to calling Lady Franklin, Lady Hamilton (for some reason, what's stuck in my head is Glenda Jackson playing opposite Peter Finch in "The Nelson Affair"). Anyhow, I even used the "find" tool to make sure there were no "Hamiltons" to be found. Alas, just toward the end (when I thought I had the problem licked) you discover a Hamilton here, a Hamilton there. Thanks for catching it, all is settled, but it still makes me laugh to think how quickly my fingers went to type Hamilton after I wrote the word "Lady" (It didn't help that I've been listening to the "Hamilton" original Broadway cast album nonstop, either).
      Back to the movie: I'm a big fan of "The Go Between", but this movie somehow got by me. Seeing it just last month, I was stunned by what a terrific film it was. I mean, nobody seems to talk of it and noone seems to have seen it.
      I confess to have never seen "Upstairs Downstairs" when it was originally on, but after I fell in love with "Downton Abbey" I tried looking at an episode and (don't hate me) I couldn't abide it.
      I guess it really matters which one you're exposed to first.
      Hope you get around to checking this out. I enjoyed it so much.
      Now I think I have to scope out that Vivien movie!

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    2. Fun fact: "That Hamilton Woman" (with Vivian Leigh and Lawrence Olivier) was Winston Churchill's favorite movie. You'll find it world's away from the (undoubtedly more accurate) Glenda Jackson-Peter Finch film. Also, don't know how you feel about Susan Sontag, but her novel, THE VOLCANO LOVER, covers a lot of the same material about Lady Hamilton's affair with Nelson.

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    3. I never knew that about Churchill! Happily, I see "That Hamilton Woman" is on YouTube! And thanks for the tip on the Sontag book. I've never read Sontag, but I've always been fascinated by the whole Lord Nelson /Lady Hamilton thing.

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  2. That final Stuff of Dreams wrap up, where you compare and contrast these films from my side of the pond with the lack of similar conflict based films on your side, is very intelligently done. A great read.

    But no, I still cannot abide Downright Shabby. Maybe its the fact that I can't allow myself to watch something written by Julian Fellows, the most obnoxious Tory and former speech writer for Iain Duncan Smith. Yuk

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    1. Hi Mark
      Thanks very much for the compliment. I must confess that you were on my mind while writing this piece, for I wanted to drop you a line and see if I understood the whole postwar British class system thing correctly (I wasn't sure if it disappeared altogether by the 1920s).

      Anyhow, I appreciate your words regarding my theory about why UK class-conflict narratives are so popular here.
      Also, none of my British friends seem to be able to stand "Downton Abbey"! Also, I had no idea Julian Fellows was a conservative. Ick!

      I somehow carried with me the impression that he was a liberal gay man? (Projection perhaps, because nearly all my gay friends are "Downton Abbey " fans)

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    2. Unfortunately we'll never escape from class as a nation. Nowadays it has just taken on a slightly different form of the have and have nots - the proletariat succumbing to this strange, sickening deification of celebrity and businessmen. But the Conservatives are doing their upmost to continue to widen the gap between the upper class and the working class with their strict austerity measures and yes, Fellows once wrote the speeches for the man implementing these cuts to our welfare state, a man with blood on his hands.

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    3. What you describe sounds like the US - only add anti-intellectualism, xenophobia, racism cloaked in religious dogma, and the belief that ignorance combined with hate is now a legitimate conservative platform.

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  3. Hi Ken,
    I've heard of The Hireling but had never seen it, but after reading your lovely post, I definitely want to check it out. The time in which it was made (early-mid 70s) seems to make it part of a wave of films of that era that recreated the whole Britain-Between-The-Wars aesthetic (The Go-Between, also a Hartley adaptation, The Hunting Party), combining it with a criticism of both the class divide and the repressed, stiff-upper-lip British upper-class character. My impression of earlier British films (40s-50s) that presented the 2 classes in conjunction was to make the situation rather comic--the humorous (from the upper-class point of view) Cockney servants interacting with their 'betters,' that sort of thing; but I gather this later examination of the British class divide may have come out of the "Angry Young Man" era of the 50s,as well as the rise of the working-class movie-star actor of the 60s (such luminaries as Richard Burton, Peter O'Toole, Michael Caine--all came from working-class backgrounds).

    I think you're so right that in the U.S. we haven't examined our own class divide (we still live by the myth of the 'classless' society). Your description of how the Sarah Miles character is unaware of her maid's private sorrow (with her blind son) reminded me of that scene in the 1959 Imitation of Life, when Lana Turner is shocked to discover that her maid Juanita Moore actually has a vibrant private life and many friends connected with her church--it never occurs to Lana's character that someone working for her has a life of her own! And then there's the career of Sidney Poitier, who was embraced by white audiences because he seemed to have been the Jackie Robinson equivalent of African-American actors, someone who never can reveal his real feelings. I think Poitier finally had to make his own films to get some reality into his portrayals of black life (and which may explain his long absences from the screen--he couldn't find films that would let him do so).

    Thanks, as always, for your terrific, perceptive posts!

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    1. Hi GOM
      I too associate the early 70s with the kind of British film you describe. I wonder when it no longer became “appropriate” or funny to depict the upper classes poking fun at the lower? Certainly those Angry Young Man movies and kitchen sink dramas s of 60s imbued the working classes with a dignity they were’t afforeded earlier.
      I only recently saw Shaw in "The Birthday Party", and while not a period piece, it was another indictment of British society of the sort that always makes me think of the late 60s and 70s as being a rich time for these kinds of films.

      I'm never sure what actual Brits think of a film like "The Hireling", but I know that we seem to respond to them favorably. The depiction of class bigotry and snobbery is always so genteel and "civilized" compared to what we Yanks might delve into were we to cover a similar time in our own past.
      But the lack of heavy-handedness is one of "The Hireling"s chief assets. The film is so beautifully shot and the performances so rich, the social themes only serve to embellish the personal drama.

      I like that you mentioned the scene from "Imitation of Life" - that's exactly the kind of detail I like in movies. With the current dialog in Hollywood these days being about the need for diverse voices in the writing and production end of things if we want diverse stories, perhaps there will come a time when our own “class” issues will be depicted onscreen from the perspective of those on the receiving end.
      Up to now it seems so many films have reflected the point of view of the well-meaning liberal needing to cleanse their soul (the Poitier legacy). It’s an admirable sentiment, but it’s still the same voice.
      Thanks for such a well-considered comment! Hope you manage to check out “The Hireling “ sometime. I’m certain you’ll enjoy it!

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  4. Hi Kenneth,

    I've sent you an email, but I wanted to make sure you receive it. I'm letting you know that I'm hosting another blogathon for next year and would love to invite you to participate. The link is below with more details

    https://crystalkalyana.wordpress.com/2015/10/19/announcing-the-remembering-barbara-stanwyck-blogathon/

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    1. Thanks for the invite, Crystal and got your email. I love Stanwyck!

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  5. This was a very interesting read about a film I've not been at all familiar with, so I hope I'll see it sometime. I was immediately struck by the shot of Elizabeth Sellars as I love "flinty" characters like that! To zero in on the least meaningful aspects, I wanted to scream when you mentioned Sarah Miles and her urine therapy!! I read that same thing back in the day and it never left my mind. It's one of the things I always associate with her. (Was it in Movieline magazine, perhaps? I worshiped that periodical, always full of information one could never find elsewhere.) I was reading a Burt Reynolds bio several years ago and when I got to the anticipated part about "The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing," some asshat had cut two pages out right there!!! What a crazy instance that was for ol' Burt and Sarah. Thanks for another compelling review/tribute.

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    1. Hi Poseidon
      Thank god you zero in on the so-called "least meaningful aspects" (aka, the most fun)!
      I feel the same as you about not really being able to separate my thoughts of Sarah Miles from that urine therapy thing. I'm not sure when i first heard of it but I tend to associate it with the time she appeared in 1978's "The Big Sleep" and Robert Mitchum sort of let the cat out of the bag in an interview.
      Oh, and your mention of Movieline...that was my favorite film rag back in the day. So irreverent and full of amazing trivia.

      And that whole murder/suicide thing during the making of that Burt Reynolds film, I still remember. It felt like one of those situations where everybody rallies around to protect a celebrity (like Natalie Wood's death). Sometimes when I read about Burt Reynolds and what he was like, I can't help but think karma is kicking his ass about now.
      I know from visiting your site that you've been busier than usual of late, so it makes it all the more gratifying that you take time out to not only read, but so entertainingly comment on my posts. Thanks!

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  6. So ole Sarahkins is a Pee-Chugger?
    Wow, who knew? Well at least she isn't up to a variant on Richard Gere's . . .um . . . alleged PAR-TIC-U-LARITY [heh, heh]
    The things I learn on this blog.

    Saw this fine film in a Rep House with either THE GO-BETWEEN or Christopher Miles (Sarah's brother) lovely, quiet take on the DH Lawrence's THE VIRGIN AND THE GYPSY --- another good one.

    Yes, really fine film here as were the nuanced performances. (PARTICULARLY Shaw) Wish Miles and Shaw had gotten down [second smutty chuckle] as Lady Chatterley and her Gamekeeper --- they're almost doin' that here.

    Back in the day, I referred to "Her Actress-ship" as Sarah "The Big 'O'" Miles given her cinema signature semaphore of Crestin' the Coital Wave.

    1) Moistening eyes
    2) Descending breath rhythm
    3) gradually half-opening mouth with glistening and pouty lower lip.
    3) Right to left, right to left, right to left, searching for her Self in her lover's eyes gesture,
    4) sleek, Herbal Essenced Cher-hair flipped back-and-behind in a Reichian Orgone-energy ripple effect,'
    5) eyes rolling back half-closed with head tipping back and away, with lover's head turned sideway's and pulled to her chest all to the soundtrack of a slow, deep-to-the-vagina inhalation and then ----

    CUT!

    It was the 60s and '70s after all. ; )

    [For examples of the above, please see BLOWUP, RYAN'S DAUGHTER (luv that one! --- and it happens twice in a row in the restored version) and THE SAILOR WHO FELL FROM GRACE WITH THE SEA. (which is essentially '70s art-house porno)]

    Your Lady Hamilton faux pas may actually be sourced in a dim memory of the dim-witted potboiler called LADY CAROLINE LAMB which she starred in with Richard Chamberlain as her Lord Byron. Bolt wrote and directed this. I half-expected it to be the start of a Bolt/Miles franchise arriving under the banner "Historical Hot Tamales of the Silver Screen" co-starring a Stud-de-jour. No such luck. : (

    I must join the DOWNTOWN CRABBIES and say how awful I think that series is --- Sorry, Ken! UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS arrived too late after too many previous like-minded movies/series for me to really enjoy it as it really deserved. For me, The Jewel in the Class-Riven Crown was, BBC 2's THE FORSYTHE SAGA 1967 with Eric Porter, Nyree Dawn Porter, Margaret Tyzack, Kenneth Moore and a very young Susan Hampshire. I saw the first broadcast here in the States and even at 26 episodes, it was MAG-NI-FIQUE!

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    1. Hi Gregory
      Happy to hear you're familiar with this film. And, as I see, you're also very familiar with Sarah Miles and her screen orgasm technique. I remember when i was growing up how critics always tore into Glenda jackson for jumping out of her clothes role after role, and Sarah Miles for just what you detailed above.
      I remember the Playboy pictorial of Miles and Kristofferson for "Sailor..." they made the sex act look quite painful, yet photogenic.

      I've always wanted to see "Lady Caroline Lamb", but like this film, it's very hard to track down in any form and never shows up on cable.

      I see that "Term of Trial" is available for rent on YouTube. I've never seen the film, but I came across it researching this post. Seems Miles claims to have had an affair with Olivier while making it. She does get around. thanks for the recommendation, it does sound interesting.

      Lastly, I'm so glad you brought up "The Forsythe Saga"! Not because I've seen it (I haven't) but because it was a part of youthful pop culture awareness that had completely slipped my mind. No one ever talks about it!
      Much appreciate your checking out this post, Gregory, and for your amusingly detailed description of Sarah Miles' ...legacy.

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    2. Many years ago (May 25, 1979 to be exact) I flipped on the TV to something called DINAH ! a daytime talk show hosted by none other than the vivaciously, down-home Dinah Shore. Standing next to her looking like an awkward Amazon in too small Catholic Girl school uniform was none other than GLENDA JACKSON making her Mum's trifle for Dinah in a TV kitchen set.

      I thought I had somehow slipped through some time space warp.
      Did someone slip me a hallucinogen, I wondered?

      GLENDA??? WITH DINAH??? ON "DINAH !" ????

      Dinah turned to the camera and said in her oh-so sincere 'Southern Style of hers: " Why Glenda we're all so glad you're here makin' us that yummy lookin' dessert. We tried to find some pictures of you from your most recent film to show the studio audience, but you never seem to have any clothes on, Hunny"

      Well, let me tell you Glenda worked that lower massive jaw of hers and had a glower on her face that looked like she was ready to slap old Dinah right smack into the middle of next week.

      I'll never forget it.

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    3. If you have not seen it, check out now-Member-of- Parliament Glenda Jackson's comments upon the death of Margaret Thatcher. If you can guess, Dame Glenda and Baroness Thatcher were definitely not on the place on the political spectrum!

      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=W0G2r7G96RY

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    4. Thanks so much. YES! I have seen it. Great stuff.
      Glenda J. stepped down from Parliament this summer and will be returning to the theater as a 104 year old woman via a radio play based on an Emile Zola novel.
      Good news indeed!

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    5. How I wish I had seen that episode! Just the thought of Dinah and Glenda Jackson together is enough to make me smile, but Dinah "going there" just makes it perfect.
      When I tried to see if this episode was available online anywhere, I discovered it had something to do with promoting Robert Altman's film "HealtH" which starred Jackson and in whcih Dinah appeared as herself (I saw the film many years ago and don't remember her, though).

      I also saw when Glenda jackson laid into Margaret Thatcher. Brilliant. I wish we had someone even remotely as eloquent here to do the same for Trump.

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  7. Look for Peter Glenville's TERM OF TRIAL 1962. A forgotten British kitchen sink drama gem. Laurence Olivier as an alcoholic school teacher trapped in a loveless marriage to Simone Signoret is brilliant and nearly unrecognizable. Sarah Miles plays the student who falls for himand brings change into his life. Very interesting early effort by Miles.

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  8. Hi Ken,

    Well you certainly went deep for this one. I've never heard of it but it sounds heavenly. I LOVE Return of the Soldier so anything by the same director with a similar theme is like catnip, the only downside seems to be its unavailability.

    I've never been the biggest fan of Sarah Miles finding her among her contemporaries, Christie, Jackson, York and a few others, the most wan and usually the least memorable on screen. I don't think I've ever seen her where I'd say she's awful just unexceptional so I am always willing to give her another chance. Whatever my problems with Miles I have none with Shaw. Though he's sometimes over the top he's always a very strong presence.

    Someone else mentioned Lady Caroline Lamb, God is that an awful picture! Films like that and that dreadful Cat Dancing movie, along with that scandal and a lack of dynamism in her persona, are why her time at the top was so short.

    I sense that this is now going to become a Holy Grail title for me, as Three Secrets with Patricia Neal, Eleanor Parker and Ruth Roman and The Lady Pays Off with my beloved Linda Darnell are, but from your description the wait will be worth it. Thanks for the tip!

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    1. Hi Joel
      I'd forgotten this film myself until it cropped up on GetTV one night. It's so rare to find a sought-after film that you'd given up on. Its TV broadcast was in some way tied into its sudden availability as one of those made to order DVDs. I think you can still buy it on Amazon, but who wants to buy a film just to see it? You might not like it.

      Robert Shaw is really wonderful and I even think this film would overcome basic reservations about Sarah Miles. I was just so impressed.
      Now I REALLY want to see Lady Caroline Lamb! But seeing Cat Dancing once was plenty. I saw it at theater when it opened and loathed it then.
      Because so many movies are available now, it's fun to harbor a few Holy Grail titles one has yet to see. The feeling when one at last unearths them takes me back to the pre VHS days when anticipation was always part of being a film fan. I don't get that satisfaction often these days, so the feeling is sublime.
      Thanks, Joel!

      Just seeing it brought back remember wanting to see it when i was , and it was such a thrill to see a film from then

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