Dames Eileen Atkins, Judi Dench, Joan Plowright and Maggie Smith have let the cameras in on a friendship that goes back more than half a century. The four acting greats discuss their ...
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Dames Eileen Atkins, Judi Dench, Joan Plowright and Maggie Smith have let the cameras in on a friendship that goes back more than half a century. The four acting greats discuss their careers and reminisce about their humble beginnings in the theatre.
The English documentary Tea with the Dames (2018) was directed by Roger Michell.
It stars Dame Eileen Atkins, Dame Judi Dench, Dame Joan Plowright, and Dame Maggie Smith. These four friends have gotten together on occasion over the span of may years. Finally they decided--or were convinced--that a documentary would involve audiences in their lives and thoughts.
All of these women have had fabulous careers in theater, cinema, and TV. Now, in their 80's, they are retired or semi-retired. (Dame Joan is blind, so she formally announced her retirement.) However, they still are as intelligent and witty as ever. And, of course, they know how to work with a camera crew.
The result of this filming is pure magic. It opens a window into what inspired these actors so that they could inspire us. I've seen other documentaries of people talking with each other in somewhat informal situations, but I've never seen a movie like this.
We saw this film in Rochester's excellent Little Theatre. It will work very well on the small screen. The movie carries a strong IMDb rating of 7.6, and I would say it's even better than that. Don't miss it!
Personal P.S. One of the topics discussed by the four women is the difficulty of playing the role of Cleopatra in Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra. All of them say that they didn't have the courage to play the role. One of them says to Maggie Smith, "Well, you played it." She answers, "Yes, but in Canada."
Obviously all four of them meant the English theater. Apparently, it's obvious to them that playing Cleopatra for Canadian audiences isn't quite the same.
That may or may not be true, but in 1976 we saw Maggie Smith as Cleopatra at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Canada, and she was magnificent. It's one of those performances that you never forget. Dame Maggie spent four seasons in Stratford (1976 - 1980) and everything she touched turned into gold. She was adored by Canadian and U.S. lovers of great acting in great plays. So, in "Tea with the Dames," her Canadian work sounds trivial. In real life it was anything but trivial. She is still my favorite actor of all time.
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