Gosford Park (2001)
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Gosford Park is a film that is absolutely smack-packed with actors and characters. So, who is everybody?
Upstairs, we have:
Sir William McCordle. Owner of the Gosford Park estate, and married to:
Lady Sylvia McCordle. She is the oldest of three sisters, the other two are:
Her younger sister Louisa Stockbridge. Married to:
Lord Raymond Stockbridge.
And the youngest sister, Lavinia Meredith. Married to:
Lieutenant Commander Anthony Meredith.
Sylvia, Louisa and Lavinia are daughters to Lord and Lady Carton. However, the Cartons are not seen in the film, only mentioned, and they were not the original owners of Gosford Park, the sisters were not brought up there as children. Lady Sylvia notes that the manor isn't a family house, and that it had been bought with Sir William's "ill-gotten gains".
Sir William and Lady Sylvia have one daughter:
She brought two friends to the party:
Lord Rupert Standish. And:
The most honourable guest is "Aunt Constance", or Countess of Trentham as she would be officially addressed. She is an aunt to Sylvia McCordle, thus a sister to either Lord or Lady Carton.
Other notable guests at the party are:
Freddie Nesbitt. A business acquaintance of Sir William McCordle, also a former love-interest of Isobel McCordle. Freddie Nesbitt is married to: Mabel Nesbitt.
Entertainer Ivor Novello, a second cousin to Sir William. Their mothers were first cousins.
He brought his friend: Morris Weissman, an American film producer.
Downstairs, we have the staff at Gosford Park:
Jennings, the butler.
Mrs Wilson, the housekeeper
Mrs Croft, the cook, and head of the kitchen staff
Elsie, the head housemaid
Probert, Sir William's valet
Lewis, Lady Sylvia's lady's maid
George, first footman
Dorothy, still room maid
Bertha, kitchen maid
Guesting staff is:
Mary Maceachran, Lady Trentham's lady's maid
Henry Denton, manservant to Morris Weissman
Robert Parks, valet to Lord Stockbridge
Renée, Louisa Stockbridge's lady's maid
Barnes, valet to Commander Meredith
Sarah, Lavinia Meredith's lady's maid Edit
Yes, Ivor Novello was in fact a real person.
Born in Cardiff, Wales, he lived between 1893-1951. A multi-talented composer, singer and actor, he became one of the most popular British entertainers of the early 20th century. And he was gay. Some of his songs are featured in Gosford Park, performed by the actor Jeremy Northam.
As an actor, Ivor Novello made one of his best performances in Alfred Hitchcock's break through silent classic The Lodger in 1927. However, the version of the film mentioned in Gosford Park is not the Hitchcock version, but a sound-film remake made in 1932 by the director Maurice Elvey. Novello starred in both, but the latter was not as good a success as the earlier one, mentioned by Constance in Gosford Park as "a disappointment".
Link to Ivor Novello at IMDb.
The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1927)
The Lodger (1932) Edit
During breakfast the morning after the murder, both of the Americans were confused as to how the breakfast was supposed to be served. Both Morris Weissman and Henry Denton expected to be served, and were surprised to learn that they were expected to provide for their own tray from the buffet table. Now, how could that be? Surely they must've learned by now how breakfast was served?
And the answer is, the party hadn't been served breakfast together in that manner at all before that time, in spite of that being their third day at Gosford Park.
They arrive at mid day during the first day. They are served tea in the sitting room, then dinner during the evening. The morning of the second day, the ladies are being served breakfast in their beds, while the men are already out for the shoot. Instead, they all participate in an elaborate lunch outdoors in the Greek rotunda. On the evening after the dinner that day, the murder takes place. Thus, breakfast the third day is the first breakfast that are served together in the dining room. And that's when the Americans learn how the breakfast is served. Edit
During the evening of the second day at Gosford Park, the host Sir William McCordle was poisoned to death and then brutally stabbed from behind. So, whodunnit?
Mrs Wilson, the head housekeeper, is the murderess. After the scandal during the dinner, Sir William withdrew to his study. Mrs Wilson offered him a cup of coffee, which she had poisoned beforehand. He refused the coffee and knocked it to the floor and ordered some whiskey instead taking a big drink and finds it horrible tasting. Being the faithful servant and prepared for all eventualities, as always, she had brought the poison with her, and quickly poisoned the whiskey before handing it over to him.
Meanwhile Robert Parks, valet to Lord Stockbridge, had made plans of his own to murder Sir William. He did this during the evening, when the entire household was listening to Ivor Novello entertaining the guests. Parks had stolen a kitchen knife the night before, which he had hidden in the sand bucket used in case of fire near the service entrance. During the evening, he "went out for a smoke", made use of a couple of dirty shoes to make it look like the assailant came from outside the household, picked up the hidden knife, opened the secret door to the study, and stabbed Sir William from behind but he was already dead from the poison.
Robert Parks had been brought up in an orphanage. He and some other boys broke into the office and stole their files which contained his birth certificate and listed his father as unknown and mother deceased. Though, after some investigative research, he had found out that Sir William McCordle was the one that had delivered him to the orphanage. From this he drew the conclusion that Sir William was in fact, his father. He wanted Sir William dead, as a revenge for his mothers death, and for his upbringing in an orphanage.
Unbeknownst to him, his mother was not dead at all, but alive and well and working in Sir Williams household having changed her name to Mrs Wilson. Mrs Wilson had understood the true meaning of Robert Parks upbringing. That he had not been given to a good family that Sir Williams knew but had been dumped in an orphanage and that he was in fact, her son, and that he was there to kill Sir William. In an act of anticipation and true self sacrifice, she killed Sir William before Robert Parks had the chance, to save her son from the gallows and giving him closure at the same time.
It is still an open question if Robert Parks ever figured out the true relationship between him and Mrs Wilson, it is however clear that she knew that he was her son. Edit