|Index||7 reviews in total|
Wodehouse's more eccentric characters are often notoriously difficult to
render on screen, as witness David Niven's bland and lifeless Bertie
Wooster. In Peter O'Toole and Richard Briers, however, we finally have the
perfect renditions of the Earl of Emsworth and his younger brother, the
Honourable Galahad Threepwood (respectively). It's clear that both actors
spent a fair amount of time reading the Wodehouse stories to get their
characters down, and it's paid off.
Wodehouse frequently describes the Earl as "dreamy," "lanky," "boneless" (in more ways than one), and, when visiting his prize pig, draping himself over the fence "like an old sock" or "an unused pair of overalls." He is also forgetful, placid, and inattentive. The Hon. Galahad, on the other hand, is small, dapper, quick witted, and inordinately fond of alcohol, bar maids, and chorus girls. If possible, the Hon. Galahad is even more difficult to render than the Earl. But in "Heavy Weather," O'Toole and Briers have brought them to life without making them either foolish or ridiculous. On first viewing it, I thought Briers was perfect but that O'Toole may have gone a bit overboard on the ninth Earl of Emsworth. So I re-read the Blandings Castle books and, no, O'Toole had it exactly right.
In short, "Heavy Weather" is a real gem that should be available on DVD and isn't. Petition the producers to release it and, in the meantime, try to catch it on your local PBS Masterpiece Theater. In the meantime, check out Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry as Bertie Wooster and Jeeves, another perfect pairing that is available on both VHS and DVD.
This is Wodehouse film at its best. One cannot cavil at the slight alteration of sequences, etc., because the characters are so finely honed. The problem with filming Wodehouse is that so much of his appeal is his language, and without a narrator the actors, director scriptwriters, etc. seem to lose their nerve and thing they have to mug, or at least give their audience demonstrative signs that what they're doing is supposed to be funny -- which it usually isn't. But the makers of Heavy Weather knew their stuff. The book is closely followed. The actors are all uniformly wonderful. Peter O'Toole is Lord Emsworth. Richard Briers is Galahad Threepwood. And the sincere vapidity of Samuel West so perfectly captured Monty Bodkin's character that he instantly became one of my favorite actors. This was as close to Wodehouse on film as we're likely to get, and I would like to see the entire Blandings Saga done just this way, while O'Toole and Briers are still with us. I would recommend Rupert Everett as Psmith.
'Heavy Weather' is one of the funniest Wodehouse adaptations out there.
Douglas Livingston's version for television surpasses even the
excellent 'Jeeves and Wooster' series with Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry,
a 4 season set that falls down badly in the last two seasons.
Peter O'Toole is almost over the top as Lord Emsworth, the owner of the Empress of Blandings, his prize sow, but he is so convincingly dotty and his timing so perfect that any quibbles are instantly erased from memory. He is partnered by a wonderfully droll Galahad Threepwood (his brother) played by Richard Briers and their gorgon sister Connie, a hilarious Judy Parfitt, her neck muscles alone speak volumes. Samuel West is a perfect Bertie Wooster-like airhead, always a central Wodehouse character. There are two secondary characters who consistently steal their scenes, David Bamber's oily P.I. Pilbeam and Richard Johnson's irascible Lord Tilbury.
I agree with another commentator here that further Blandings Castle books should be dramatized with this same cast if possible.
I eagerly await the release of 'Heavy Weather' on DVD and urge others who feel the same to write to Acorn Media and urge them to come up with it soon.
Now this is what I call comedy. Nothing vulgar, nothing salacious and no
attempt to politicize the characters. The cast could not have been better
selected. Peter O'Toole is the embodiment of dreamy dottiness as Lord
Emsworth, devoted to his prize sow, the Empress. The entire cast is
superbly funny, all performing with a detailed nuance of character often
missing from major films touted as masterpieces. These actors live their
parts as if born to play them. Judy Parfitt manages to stand out as the
formidable gorgon, Lady Constance, "Connie" as her siblings refer to her,
funny in itself being such a sweet name and being appended to such a
fearful person. Her sister Julia finally reins Connie in with the single
word "tone" when Connie launches into her jaw clenching mode with
underlings and fools. Parfitt's facial manoeverings at these times are
Benjamin Soames, young Fish, is ideal as the bloopy-eyed, empty-headed prince of Blandings Castle. Fuddled, muddled and in-love with the dance-hall performer Sue.
If only this were available on dvd! It would be too much to hope for that, let alone an entire series of Blandings Castle stories to go along with the wonderful Jeeves and Wooster series with Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie.
This is surely one of the most hilarious films ever made. It's a comic masterpiece. The casting is perfect in every way. The story--well, it's Wodehouse. Why on earth doesn't someone have the sense to make this available on VHS? I'm using a grainy film I recorded from Masterpiece Theater.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Now I can't admit to being the biggest of fans of PG Wodehouse's work,
but Heavy Weather is an exception. One of the wackiest, most eccentric
things you could ever watch. The story itself is of course very well
known, many of us will have read it, and either loved, or loathed it.
The translation from book to film is first rate, the direction is spot
on, but it's the acting that makes this entire presentation fantastic.
A wonderful cast assembled, led by the incredible Peter O'Toole, his
brilliance is truly addictive, his natural eccentricity made him the
ultimate casting for Clarence, but the remaining cast of Richard
Briers, Judy Parfitt, Samuel West etc, just a magical combination.
A perfect diversion for a quiet, relaxing Sunday Afternoon, 8/10
I am a Wodehouse addict. I have all his books and I know some of the
dialogues in his short stories by heart. This is a very good
adaptation. All the actors are great ... except for - and I really hate
to say this - Peter O'Toole. How could he get it so wrong? There is too
much O'Toole in his acting, and not enough Emsworth.
Yes, Lord E was dreamy and absent-minded to a degree. But that does not mean he was mentally deficient or that had a speech impediment! Peter O'Toole speaks as if he has a hot potato in his mouth, or cerebral palsy, or something along those lines, and most of the time, he acts as if he can barely move. He barely enunciates his words and hardly closes his mouth when he speaks. That is NOT what Lord E was all about at all! In fact, when his patience was sorely tried, he could express himself with a great deal of energy.
It's a real shame because the rest of the cast is very good. But IMO, Peter's "interpretation" of Lord E is so jarringly bad it completely distracts my attention from everything else.
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