Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Persuasion Comparison: Part 2

This is the 2nd post of the Persuasion films comparison by guest posters Miss Amy Dashwood of Yet Another Period Drama Blog, Miss Laurie of Old-Fashioned Charm, Miss Melody of Regency Delight and Miss Elizabeth Bennet of Elegance of Fashion. In this part they compare actors who portray minor characters in the 1995 and 2007 adaptations of Jane Austen's Persuasion.

Charles and Mary Musgrove
Simon Russell Beale and Sophie Thompson (1995) 
Sam Hazeldine and Amanda Hale (2007)
Miss Amy Dashwood: Sam Hazeldine and Amanda Hale (2007) were only so-so in their roles as the Musgroves, with Mr. Hazeldine in particular being quite forgettable. I found Amanda Hale’s voice incredibly irritating, and though Mary is supposed to be an irritating character, I was tempted to groan every time she appeared. Simon Russell Beale and Sophie Thompson (1995) were much better suited to the parts, and I found myself actually liking Charles Musgrove.
Miss Laurie: Sophie Thompson as Mary keeps in character and the timing of her lines is actually quite comedic so that the character is quite hilarious. Simon Russell Beale captures Charles as the sportsman who enjoys shooting but also shows the kind, fatherly and brotherly side of his character. Amanda Hale makes a younger and prettier Mary and her unique take on the character makes Mary exuberant, youthful and quite childish in her manners. Sam Hazeldine plays a quieter and gentler Charles who usually indulges his wife but also seems to pay a bit too much wistful attention to Anne. Overall I prefer the 1995 Charles & Mary Musgrove because with their respective hunting and whining they are a perfectly matched pair and very much as Jane Austen described.
Miss Melody: Simon Russell Beale and Sophie Thompson (1995) & Sam Hazeldine and Amanda Hale (2007)
Simon Russell as Charles didn’t impress me favorably, but then Charles has never exactly been a favorite character of mine. Sophie Thompson’s Mary was very good. Sam Hazeldine played the part well, as did Amanda Hale—she did very well (and annoyingly) as Mary, but sort of in a different way than Sophie Thompson. As a couple, I would probably choose the two from 2007—they were just more interesting. But who knows, a year from now I may have a different opinion.
Miss Elizabeth Bennet: Sophie Thompson's Mary Musgrove was much more comedic than Amanda Hale's Mary Musgrove, whose comments it would seem you are supposed to take seriously (plus it seemed like you were supposed to pity her). I didn't see enough either of Charles Musgrove  to really form much of an opinion on, so I may have to base my decision on Mary. That being said, I think Sophie Thompson's Mary was closer to the book than Amanda Hale's Mary, so I'm going to have to go with 1995 Charles and Mary Musgrove.
Admiral and Mrs. Croft
John Woodvine and Fiona Shaw (1995) & Peter Wight and Marion Bailey (2007)
Miss Amy Dashwood: John Woodyine and Fiona Shaw (1995) were excellent in their roles as the jolly, pleasant Crofts, and I sincerely liked them, but Ms. Shaw’s hairstyle got on my nerves at times— all those little forehead curls reminded me of Fanny Dashwood! Peter Wight and Marion Bailey (2007) were also quite good, and I think it’s a toss-up between the two couples.
Miss Laurie: Fiona Shaw as Mrs. Croft is the perfect older sister for Captain Wentworth; you quickly catch her enthusiasm for travel and understand how much she admires and loves her husband. John Woodvine presents a tall, noble Admiral Croft who is very easy to imagine in command of a fleet and is actually shown on board ship at the beginning of the film. Marion Bailey looks well over the 40-year-old Mrs. Croft and is almost too fine in her appearance to be very convincing as the world traveler. Peter Wight does not really look like a navy Admiral and overall he actually plays the character as too thoughtful and personable. Although the 2007 Crofts have some fun interactions and discussions about "Frederick", I greatly prefer the 1995 Crofts with their truly devoted but slightly haphazard relationship. 
Miss Melody: I liked Admiral Croft’s portrayal in the 1995 version, and Fiona Shaw did Mrs. Croft very well & memorably, though I didn’t care for her hair either. There was nothing wrong with the two from 2007 exactly, but I easily preferred both actors in the 1995 version for those roles.
Miss Elizabeth Bennet: Aww! I loved both versions! They were so kind and sweet to Anne! I think, for the most part, I liked Fiona Shaw's Mrs. Croft a little better than Marion Bailey's, but I prefered Peter Wight's Admiral Croft to John Woodvine's (I thought John Woodvine looked a little too frail to be an admiral). So, I can't really pick which couple I liked better, but I will say that I liked 1995 Mrs. Croft better and 2007 Admiral Croft better.
Captain James Benwick
Richard McCabe (1995) & Finlay Roberton (2007)
Miss Amy Dashwood: Finlay Robertson’s portrayal of Captain Benwick in the 2007 version left much to be desired—maybe I’m just easily confused, but I kept getting him mixed up with Captain Harville. I definitely preferred Richard McCabe (1995) but his portrayal of Benwick made the character seem rather air-headed and not particularly likable.
Miss Laurie: Richard McCabe of the 1995 film is at first glance a strange choice for Captain Benwick as he does not look like a young man who is relentlessly grieving for his lost love, but he does have the look of a navy officer and when he quotes Byron at Anne he perfectly transforms into the character. Finlay Roberton of the the 2007 film is younger and better looking but in his few short scenes he steals away Captain Harville's words on constancy from the book and those words coming from him almost make him seem cheeky to Anne. Overall I prefer the 1995 Captain Benwick because his character is portrayed closer to the book. 
Miss Melody: Richard McCabe’s Benwick… well, he was too heavy, and his hair irritated me. Call me silly if you will. Finlay Roberton annoyed me too, actually, but he was closer to what I would have pictured reading the book.
Miss Elizabeth Bennet: I liked both Captain Benwick's well enough, but there was something that bothered me a little bit about the 1995 version's Captain Benwick. Finaly Roberton's Captain Benwick in the 2007 version was melancholic since his fiancee (Captain Harville's sister) died. You could see that he was in pain and that he was deeply in mourning. With Richard McCabe, I didn't get that sense. He seemed to rally his spirits a little bit better, but (if I remember correctly), Captain Benwick is supposed to be very much in mourning. Because of that, I'm going to have to go with Finlay Roberton's Captain Benwick.

Captain Harville
Robert Glenister (1995) & Joseph Mawle (2007)
Miss Amy Dashwood: Joseph Mawle (2007) was closer to Anne’s age, and seemed okay for the part, but a bit boring and forgettable. I infinitely preferred Robert Glenister (1995)—he was fun, jolly, genuinely concerned for his friend Benwick, warm and welcoming to Captain Wentworth and the rest of the party, and an all-around nice guy.
Miss Laurie: Robert Glenister as Captain Harville makes a good friend to Captain Wentworth, a kind and generous former sea captain with a believable limp. I love that they show his feelings as a husband and father with his family being introduced and in his discussion with Anne about the constancy of men and women. The 2007 film strangely christens the character "Harry" but includes the lovely scene of him thanking Anne for her efforts to cheer Captain Benwick and adds delightful scenes of Captain Wentworth confiding in him about Louisa and Anne. But in cutting out Mrs. Harville, their children and changing the scene where he should be discussing constancy with Anne, Joseph Mawle's Captain Harville is flatter and underdeveloped. Overall I prefer the 1995 Harville because although his scenes are short he is everything that Jane Austen wrote. 
Miss Melody: Robert Glenister’s Captain Harville was very nice, and I liked his speech towards the end where he is talking to Anne; the famous “loving longest when all hope is gone” part. As for the 2007 version, I liked the way Captain Wentworth & Harville’s friendship was more pronounced. As for the actor, though, I suppose I’ll choose Robert Glenister.
Miss Elizabeth Bennet: I really liked how the 1995 version included his family. The 2007 version did not mention if Captain Harville had a family or not. Robert Glenister's Captain Harville I thought was more accurate to the Captain Harville in the book: in one way it was more accurate, in the book Captain Harville was wounded and (presumably) had some sort of cane with him. Joseph Mawle's was well and able to walk around on the beach! There was also more of Captain Harville in the 1995 version, so I'm going to have to go with Robert Glenister's Captain Harville.

Mrs. Penelope Clay
Felicity Dean (1995) & Mary Stockley (2007)
Miss Amy Dashwood: To be honest, neither portrayal of Mrs. Clay (Felicity Dean in 1995 and Mary Stockley in 2007) greatly impressed me. Both seemed rather boring and not as well-developed as they could have been, which was a pity because every character Jane Austen created deserves to be treated well. But if I had to pick a favorite, it would probably be Felicity Dean (1995) because Mary Stockley’s (2007) springy Shirley Temple curls annoyed me. An intellectual observation, I know.
Miss Laurie: Felicity Dean's Mrs. Clay is a tad silly, hang onto every word from Elizabeth and Sir Walter and has the freckles and slightly bucked teeth which fit Jane Austen's description of a not beautiful simpering woman whose freckles improve under the constant use of Gowland's lotion. Mary Stockley presents a beautiful young woman whose smiles could be of serious interest to Sir Walter but she doesn't fit the book's description very well. I prefer the 1995 Mrs. Clay with her humorous awkward moments that make me giggle every time! 
Miss Melody: Felicity Dean’s Mrs. Clay annoyed me a good deal; I cannot say why, exactly, but she did. (She did look like a Penelope, however.) Mary Stockley’s representation seemed to do a little more than just hang out with the Elliots, saying very little and being rather insipid as the 1995 Mrs. Clay did. Mary Stockley was more suited to how I imagined the character, I think.
Miss Elizabeth Bennet: Mrs. Clay, in both versions, is just there -- like she is in the book. She has a small role, but doesn't say very much, so we don't really know more about her character other than she is most likely trying to marry Sir Walter. The Mrs. Clay in the book isn't supposed to be very pretty (at least, to Sir Walter's eyes), so this comparison might be based on looks. In short, I found that Mary Stockley was a pretty Mrs. Clay and that Felicity Dean was not a pretty Mrs. Clay, so I'm going to have to give my vote to Felicity Dean's Mrs. Clay.

Mr. and Mrs. Musgrove
Roger Hammond and Judy Cornwell (1995)
Nicholas Farrell and Stella Gonet (2007)
Miss Amy Dashwood: Nicholas Farrell and Stella Gonet (2007) were by far my favorite of the Musgroves. Roger Hammond and Judy Cornwell (1995) were not quite as endearing, and Mrs. Musgrove’s reaction to Louisa’s fall bordered on frightening. (Fun fact: Nicholas Farrell played Edmund Bertram, another Jane Austen character, in Mansfield Park 1983.)
Miss Laurie: Judy Cornwall as a great comedic actress brings a lot of life, laughter and motherly warmth to the 1995 Mrs. Musgrove. Roger Hammond makes a jovial Mr. Musgrove with the kindness of an old-fashioned country gentleman. Stella Gonet of the 2007 version presents a sweet and motherly Mrs. Musgrove but her dresses and jewels almost make her too fine to fit the character. Nicholas Farrell makes a kind and caring Mr. Musgrove who even strangely helps Anne set his grandson's broken collar bone, but lacks the natural good humor of the character. Overall though both films cut out facets of the Musgrove's lives I prefer the 1995 Mr. & Mrs. Musgrove because their lively manners seem to set Anne completely at ease in their company.
Miss Melody: Roger Hammond must have been good enough, for I do not remember disliking him, it is just that I do not remember him at all. I do remember Judy Cornwell, though, and I liked her well enough. As for 2007, I liked Nicholas Farrell but didn’t really notice Stella Gonet. If I had to choose a couple, I would pick the one from 2007, but they are both about the same, I think.
Miss Elizabeth Bennet: Both are good, but have different approaches. With Roger Hammond and Judy Cornwell, I had the impression that they were more of a jolly couple (more of a comedic effect?), but with Nicholas Farrell and Stella Gonet, I found them to be a more serious couple (not in a bad way, of course), but at the same time, they were very warm to Anne. I think my preference is Nicholas Farrell and Stella Gonet's Mr. and Mrs. Musgrove because they were so warm to Anne.
Mrs. Smith
Helen Schlesinger (1995) & Maisie Dimbleby (2007)
Miss Amy Dashwood: Helen Schlesinger (1995) struck me as being a bit too happy-go-lucky; Mrs. Smith is supposed to be a cheerful person, yes, but also rather beaten down from all the hardships she’s had to undergo. I preferred Maisie Dimbleby’s (2007) slightly more subdued portrayal.
Miss Laurie: Helen Schlesinger as Mrs. Smith is that invalid whose health and finances are quite bad but her spirits are still remarkably high, which is exactly as she is described in the book, though she may be a tad too old for the role of Anne's 30-year-old school friend. Maisie Dimbleby makes a prettier younger Mrs. Smith but by making the character younger than Anne, and by actually showing her walking quite quickly toward the end of the film, the 2007 version totally missed the concept of the character. Though both adaptations fail to faithfully explain the connection between Mrs. Smith and Mr. Elliot, I prefer the 1995 Mrs. Smith because she is portrayed as someone who could truly be an encouraging friend to Anne and her situation is more faithful to the book.
Miss Melody: Helen Schlesinger looked a bit odd, but I did like her air of merriment. Maisie Dimbleby wasn’t too memorable, but for some reason I did like her better. As far as Mrs. Smith’s health goes, the 1995 version was closer to the book, but that 2007 inaccuracy was the adaptation’s fault and not the actress’. (By the way, the first name “Harriet” was just made up for the 2007 movie, so Mrs. Smith does not have the same name as Emma’s Harriet Smith. Heehee.)
Miss Elizabeth Bennet: What bothered me about Maisie Dimbleby's Mrs. Smith was that she was not paralyzed and sickly like she was supposed to be. Instead, she is well enough to be walking about (even during the ending scene where Anne is running through Bath). So, because of that, Helen Schlesinger gets my vote for the better Mrs. Smith.
Navigate to the Different Parts of the Persuasion Comparison!
Part 1
Part 3
Part 4

1 comment:

birdienl said...

Hi girls, I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy these comparison posts! You make such interesting observations, makes me want to watch both Persuasion versions again. If only I had the time... I'm looking forward to the rest of the posts you'll have in store for us!