The Forsyte Saga: Action for Libel (1967)
Season 1, Episode 21
Reaction to Rival
23 February 2016
Warning: Spoilers
After the dramatic, unfortunate evening when symptoms of the age became too strong to handle, the dramatization in this episode draws wonderful parallels between characters. In spite of being sued for libel, they all share some specific reluctance. The episode begins with an unwanted gift and ends with an unwanted encounter...

Soames, now 69, follows the advice of Jack Cardigan (Andrew Armour), his niece's husband, the embodiment of 'being fit' trend and takes up golf. He accepts this unwanted gift from Jack, clearly reluctantly but with a truly Forsyte-like priority: never give up. In spite of failures, he goes on... And all would, perhaps, develop in the most desirable way if it were not for the unfortunate, sudden, unexpected telegram that his sister Winifred (Margaret Tyzack) brings.

Much will have to be centered on controversy or rather discrepancy between 'what everybody knows' and 'what everybody tells.' The fuss around Marjorie Ferrar (Caroline Blaskiston) and the means for the unwanted but, for honor's sake, inevitable action are the aspects we truly need to pay attention to. An allegedly scandalous book titled CANTHAR already published in Belgium but still censored in Great Britain seems to draw parallel to the character of a woman who 'has morals about her.' The tricky business is how to distribute the copies of the book...Here comes the young and ambitious but seriously harmed by fate, Butterfield (Donald Gee) - remember Elderson's case within the PPRS - a man with a persuasive tongue who will distribute the copies of the highly immoral book which may make you burst with curiosity as for its content but which reveals the innate caution that Marjorie displays. Caution while everybody else seems to be absorbed by emotions...

Marjorie Ferrar becomes the center of attention not only due to a truly new 'type of woman' not at all old fashioned but really a modern one (even to our today's perspectives) within the story and characters haunted by the Victorian period but due to the way she is perceived by men. Two men namely who love Marjorie: the 'American Prince Charming' Francis Wilmot (Hal Hamilton) and a strong gentleman of old manners and a cutting tongue, Sir Alexander MacGown (John Phillips). There is a growing dramatic tension within the young farmer from South Carolina who will have much to suffer until he decides to quit and be finished with that 'fool business.' Sir Alexander MacGown is a totally different personality. On the one hand, he cannot understand why he loves this 'hardest woman he has ever met' and, on the other hand, he grows intensely jealous of her. Yet, above all, she is not dependent of any of them. Like Nora Curfew mentioned, she is a new type of woman admired by men and hated by some women. To make things worse, she is rumored to have had an affair with Aubrey Greene (John Bailey) - remember the painter who did paint the delicious naked girl Victorine Bicket...

In that very context evokes the obstinate and selfish character of Fleur who, like her father, will never give up. In spite of the various feelings and emotions that arise within the political situation of Great Britain (Tony Gains wins the election) and Michael's serious contribution and commitment to the new phenomenon/policy called foggatism where he has a vision full of prospects (consider the excellent scene of his speech described as "lively and well delivered"), the rivalry does not resort to women who called themselves names but spreads to men. There is a brilliant scene of humour and drama when MacGown attacks Michael in the male 'room.' His jealousy displays at the political level and rivalry therein. Poor nose...John Phillips is very good in the role.

Within all that new reality that Galsworthy develops within the context of Great War's effect on people, young people, there is also room for sentimentality in the episode. Old servant of the family, Smither (Maggie Jones) turns up unexpectedly at the Forsytes' and Winifred accepts her request for employment. Minor as the scene may seem, it is a very important touch of the past that seemingly, only seemingly did not matter at the time. Here, it hows the bright side of Winifred's character and the scene is beautifully played, highly worth consideration.

Unfortunately, we do not get Marjorie's father, Marguess (George Benson) in the episode. He is always a great delight for a viewer awaiting magnificent performance and brilliant humour. But the drama seems to reach its climax in the final scene and the truly unwanted encounter of Fleur and Marjorie at Langham Hotel. There, actually, for the first time we see the true face of Fleur. Desperate, ill Francis, unlike many Americans, quits and is finished with that fool business having realized that there is someone else in Marjorie's life and the women? Any continuity or sense of service? Reaction to the rival will find its realization in the courtroom...
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