Here’s a new BBC project for us: they’ve announced today the beginning of production on their small screen adaptation of Wilkie Collins Victorian thriller THE WOMAN IN WHITE and they’ve also announced Ben Hardy (X-Men) will star as Walter Hartright and our beloved Jessie Buckley (War And Peace, Taboo) as Marian Halcombe, with Dougray Scott, Charles Dance and Art Malik also in the cast!The five episode mini series starts in early Victorian London after Walter Hartright encounters a ghostly woman dressed in all white on a moonlit road, and then soon finds himself drawn into a mysterious and disturbing world. Romance, suspense, and danger combine as secrets come to the fore in the haunting tale of insanity and identity. Viewed by many as the first psychological thriller novel, THE WOMAN IN WHITE will take viewers on a chilling ride down the shadowy paths and corridors of English country houses and ultimately into the depths of the Victorian madhouse.
The Woman in White has already graced the BBC twice in 1966 and 1997. Origin Pictures will take on the gothic novel with BBC Northern Ireland.
“We are so excited to be bringing a bold new version of Wilkie Collins’ beloved Gothic classic to the screen,” said executive producers David Thompson and Ed Rubin. “His gift for gripping, atmospheric storytelling is as thrilling for contemporary readers as it was for Victorians, and [this] unique take really brings out the intense psychological drama that has captivated so many over the years,”
Three – A Curse Came Upon Us
On April 3th 1820, little Josie Robinson stayed home from school. Her eight year old brother, Crispin, the eldest of the two, came to inform Beth about it. Mr Robinson, Brixton Abbey’s steward, thought his daughter’s fever was way too high to leave her bed. Two days later, all the children were home and in bed, with a high fever, a cough and an ache in every muscle and limb of their small bodies. Stephen Fenton came to Beth’s cottage to tell her Lily and Oliver were also ill and that she was needed at the Abbey, to help caring for them. Beth went with him, of course.
At the Abbey, more disturbing news awaited them.
Miss Hannah Faraday was also taken ill, and she was in a far more aggravated state than Lily and Oliver, who suffered only a slight fever. Hannah, on the other hand, was burning up. Her maid June had put her to bed and taken her temperature, which had mounted to an alarming 40C. Poor Hannah lay prostrated between sheets that were damp as soon as they were changed. She was not only hot and sweating but also in a state of lethargy that caused Beth to ask Fenton for his physician. In the meantime, she went to her former charges’ bedrooms.
Lily was sitting up in bed with a book and welcomed Beth with a whoop of delight. She looked a bit pale but, when Beth placed a hand on the girl’s brow, it felt cool and normal. In his own room, Oliver was asleep and did not wake up when Beth touched his brow. The rosy colour of his cheeks reassured her about his condition. It would probably be only a cold.
When Dr Forrester arrived – after several hours, since he had been to see every sick child in the whole village – he examined all the patients and then requested an audience with Fenton.
“Erm … alone, my lord, if you please?”
Fenton turned raised eyebrows to Beth but opened the library’s door and gestured the physician in. He beckoned to Beth and she followed the two men in.
“My lord, please, I would rather not …”
“Miss Williams has my utmost confidence, Dr Forrester. Furthermore, she is the children’s teacher. She must be fully informed about their condition.”
Dr Forrester bowed his head.
“Very well, my lord. I am afraid that … my verdict on the disease will prove to be somewhat … disconcerting. I am as good as convinced we are dealing with … smallpox.”
Both Fenton and Beth gasped audibly.
“Smallpox? But how? Has there been previous cases in the county or the village?”
“None that I heard of, my lord. There has not been a smallpox outbreak for several decades in Leicestershire. Therefore, I think the contagion must be more recent. My lord, I would ask you to write to your friend Mr Masterton. He … forgive me, my lord … he is the person that comes foremost to mind of being the bearer of the disease which is known to be fairly common in Egypt.”
Stephen was appalled but recovered his wits when Beth pointed out the doctor was right. It was only cautious to find out how the disease had sneaked into the community. Fenton quickly wrote a letter to be sent to Yorkshire and Mr Masterton. Raleigh, the butler, was summoned and Fenton instructed him to have the message brought to the post office forthwith.
“My lord,” Dr Forrester then ventured, “we must take precautions to prevent the disease from spreading further. It would be wise to gather the patients in one location and set up a hospital where they can be treated without danger of contamination for the rest of the population.”
Stephen nodded pensively.
“Bring them here,” he replied, “to Brixton Abbey. We can put them up in the ballroom, which is large and airy. Tell me how many servants …”
“My lord …” The serious tone of Beth’s voice made Stephen listen to her.
“My lord, with your permission, I would like to take on organizing the hospital. When I was in France, an outbreak of smallpox occurred in the part of the country where we were living. The physician there advised my father to have me inoculated, which is a century-old method of prevention against the disease. I am immune to it. Let me deal with the sick, I beg you. We must gather them and keep the healthy ones away. My lord, I must be alone with the sick. No one is to enter the hospital lest they be contaminated. Food, water and medicines can be delivered daily.”
Beth watched Fenton stomaching her exposé with great struggle. His strong jaw was working beneath the black shadow of beard that had already formed, although it was early afternoon. Finally, he burst out with vehemence.
“No, Miss Williams, I cannot let you do this! What if you fall ill? I …”
“My lord, I just told you I am immune. I am the only one who can do this. I only ask that you arrange for the supplies I will be needing.”
“Beth … please, reconsider this! Please, Beth …”
His eyes – blue fire and glistening with tears of rage – bore into hers. Suddenly, he grabbed both of her hands and squeezed them so tightly it hurt. Beth gently pulled them free and smiled at him.
“My lord, you need not worry so. All will be fine, I assure you. Now, let us organize the hospital.”
Stephen bit back a swear word but complied, of course.
By nightfall, Beth had every sick child tucked away in bed. She was on her own. Mr Sage, she stated, was needed for parish duties and she would hate to see him fall ill. Mr Sage did not protest.
Boys and girls were lodged separately in their respective school rooms. The desks had been replaced by beds and nightstands, each with a wash basin and pitcher. Trixie and Alan were staying at Ruby’s house, next to the school. They were to be nearby whenever Beth needed something and they would communicate through written messages which Beth would leave near the well between the two cottages. Since neither Trixie nor Alan could read, Stephen would take care of the requests.
The children were not overly sick. There was a lot of coughing and sneezing and a few of them had trouble breathing but Beth was able to relieve them by rubbing their chests with eucalyptus balm.
None of the children showed any red spots on the skin, no rash, nor stomach troubles. Beth kept watch in a small room between the two sick bays, where she had placed a cot for herself. She foresaw a relatively quiet night.
Fenton, on the other hand, was very restless. He had taken residence in The Blue Boar inn, much against his mother’s wishes. Henrietta could not approve of her son endangering himself by lodging so close to the school. Now, he was pacing the inn’s best private bedchamber while his valet was emptying his portmanteau.
Stephen was so concerned about Beth that his fear threatened to eat him alive! It was all good and well to have received ‘inoculation’ – a word Stephen had never heard before – but would that truly make her immune to the disease? He had sent Dr Forrester to London to discover more about the smallpox disease, which was horrible enough to eradicate entire cities.
The feelings Stephen experienced were unknown to him. To put it plainly, a terror gnawed inside him, a paralyzing, primeval fear of losing the woman he loved more than anything before in his life.
After Florence died, he had vowed himself never to love again. Love was cruel, love was useless, it could not comfort you when the object of your love was ripped away from you. Yet, now, he loved again … and even more passionately than before. Passion could blister and burn a man to death …
The door of his room opened to admit his mother. She was looking gravely at him.
“My lord,” she began but Stephen cut her off.
“No, my lady, I do know what you are about to ask me, and the answer is negative. I will not return to the Abbey while this terrible disease rages on my property. Miss Williams … Beth … is risking her life trying to fight it, and I will not leave this inn until the day she steps out of the school to tell me it is over.”
The dowager gave a slight nod of her head but did not reply. Instead, she went to a chair and seated herself, leaning solemnly on her walking stick.
“Then, my son, I too will remain here until it is over.”
Another (OSCAR) Academy Award Winner favorite of mine is Chariots of Fire. Being 35 years old, I still find myself watching it every year. It brings a lot of heart and courage to the screen. A definite buy or rental.
Synopsis by Don Kaye
Based on a true story, Chariots of Fire is the internationally acclaimed Oscar-winning drama of two very different men who compete as runners in the 1924 Paris Olympics. Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson), a serious Christian Scotsman, believes that he has to succeed as a testament to his undying religious faith. Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross), is a Jewish Englishman who wants desperately to be accepted and prove to the world that Jews are not inferior. The film crosscuts between each man’s life as he trains for the competition, fueled by these very different desires. As compelling as the racing scenes are, it’s really the depth of the two main characters that touches the viewer, as they forcefully drive home the theme that victory attained through devotion, commitment, integrity, and sacrifice is the most admirable feat that one can achieve. (Ian Holm was nominated for an Oscar as Best Supporting Actor in his role as Abrahams’ coach), and this powerful film ended up with four Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Costume Design, and Best Original Score.
Film has a Stamp dedicated to it.
Since this is Oscar month, I thought I would post a couple of my all time favorite wins. Yes, The Sting was over 40 years ago, I saw it in the theater, and still love it to this day. Paul Newman and Robert Redford have never been seen better, including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. If you do not know the ending, don’t let anyone tell you about it. A great rental or buy.
Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Four years after setting box offices ablaze in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Paul Newman, Robert Redford, and director George Roy Hill re-teamed with similar success for The Sting. Redford plays Depression-era confidence trickster Johnny Hooker, whose friend and mentor Luther Coleman (Robert Earl Jones) is murdered by racketeer/gambler Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw). Hoping to avenge Luther’s death, Johnny begins planning a “sting” — an elaborate scam — to destroy Lonnegan. He enlists the aid of “the greatest con artist of them all,” Henry Gondorff (Paul Newman), who pulls himself out of a drunken stupor and rises to the occasion. Hooker and Gondorff gather together an impressive array of con men, all of whom despise Lonnegan and wish to settle accounts on behalf of Luther. The twists and surprises that follow are too complex to relate in detail — suffice to say that you can’t cheat an honest man, and that you shouldn’t accept everything at face value. The Sting became one of the biggest hits of the early ’70s; grossing 68.5 million dollars during its first run, the film also picked up seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Adapted Score for Marvin Hamlisch’s unforgettable setting of Scott Joplin’s ragtime music.
Out this March 24th (UK) is John Hannah and Ronan Keating World War II drama movie ANOTHER MOTHER’S SON! Based on the true story of Louisa Gould, the drama is set on the Nazi-occupied island of Jersey. Lou (Jenny Seagrove) took in an escaped Russian POW (Julian Kostov) and hid him over the war’s course. The tension mounts as it becomes clear that Churchill will not risk an assault to recapture the British soil, and the island-community spirit begins to fray under pressures of hunger, occupation and divided loyalty. Against this backdrop, Lou fights to preserve her family’s sense of humanity and to protect the Russian boy as if he was her own.
If you are still mourning the loss of Downton Abbey—and Netflix’s The Crown hasn’t filled that particular period-drama, class-relations void for you—then, boy, do BBC and Starz have exciting news for you.
On Wednesday, both parties announced that they were adapting Howards End—the 1910 E.M. Forster novel that was made into a critically acclaimed 1992 feature film starring Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson, and Vanessa Redgrave—into a lavish, four-part television series.
Oscar-nominated Manchester by the Sea scribe Kenneth Lonergan will write the limited series and, according to Deadline, the project has already been cast. Haley Atwell (Captain America) will play Margaret Schlegel, the role for which Thompson won an Oscar. Matthew Macfadyen (Ripper Street) will play Henry Wilcox, the role played by Hopkins. And Tracey Ullman will play Aunt Juley Mund, the character played by Redgrave.
Although you, like some Twitter users, might be a bit surprised to hear that Hollywood is dusting off another well-known entertainment entity for a reboot, know that critics did kinda precipitate this adaptation when they reviewed the film’s restoration last year.
“Re-released in a sparkling new 4K restoration that dazzled audiences at its Cannes debut,” the Los Angeles Times wrote, “this landmark example of a movie of passion, taste, and sensitivity that honestly touches every emotion has not only not dated, it is as moving and relevant as it was the day of its 1992 release.”
For those unfamiliar with the story, Howards End examines the social and class divisions of turn-of-the-century England through the eyes of three families in different socioeconomic tiers.
Downton Abbey’ may return to television screens in the near future.
The popular period drama came to an end two years ago following five successful years on screen because bosses wanted it to bow out on a high, but its writer Julian Fellowes has teased he’s planning to pen a prequel and wants a whole new cast.
He told The Sun newspaper: “I think it would be possible to do a prequel that was re-cast and do a sort of a love story so you went right back and had the young cast arriving in the show as footmen and Mrs Patmore being a kitchen maid. It would work if you told everyone’s story from 30 years before. You could do that with a different cast.”
As well as the prequel, Julian is still hoping that he can round up the old cast – comprised of Michelle Dockery, Dame Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville and Jim Carter – so that he can make a successful blockbuster based on the period drama.
He explained to the publication: “I hope there is going to be a film. I would like there to be a film. There are many factors as like all the actors in ‘Downton Abbey’, we made them famous. Now they have all gone off and they are doing films, theatre or TV series so it will be quite difficult rounding them up.”
However, it shouldn’t be that hard to get things up and running as a number of the cast members have previously admitted that they’d love for the film to go ahead.
Phyllis Logan, who played Mrs Hughes in the long-running drama, said she didn’t take any props from the set when the show finished because she was sure she would need them again for the big-screen adaptation.
She explained: “People ask me if I was tempted to take a wig or that big bunch of keys I carried, but that would be theft, because these things aren’t my property.
“Besides, if there’s a ‘Downton’ movie, which I hope will happen, all the props and costumes will be needed. It’s like herding cats! We’re all so busy and in different countries, but it would be such fun to get together again. The camaraderie on set was extraordinary.”
Recently, Jim Carter – who portrayed Mr Carson in the show – revealed that the cast had been asked to clear their diaries to shoot the film later this year.
He said: “We’ve been asked to keep ourselves available for dates in the future. But nobody has seen a script.”
Joanne Froggatt – who portrayed Anna Smith in the period drama for five years – set tongues wagging last year when she revealed that Julian had penned the script for the forthcoming blockbuster.