I entirely forgot today was a blogging day, chickens, mea culpa. I did get 2000 words written this morning, so I hope that will be a consolation. (Veronica Speedwell #2 is well underway!)
Anyway, today’s is a Watching post, and for starters–“Tower of London”, 1939. It’s a wretched excuse for history, but heavens is it fun. It focuses on the Duke of Gloucester’s rise to become King Richard III, and watching Basil Rathbone (Gloucester) and Vincent Price (his brother, the Duke of Clarence) tear into each other in the drinking scene is riveting. Boris Karloff as Mord the Tower executioner is particularly grim, and Ian Hunter’s Edward IV is splendid. The best bit is Richard’s dollhouse–NO, REALLY. He keeps a dollhouse, meant to represent the throne room, locked in a cupboard. Whenever a person standing between Richard and the crown is removed, he flings the little wax figure onto the fire and sits another doll on the throne. It’s delectably creepy, and to his credit, Rathbone does a remarkable job of infusing a little humanity into his Richard in spite of the script. He is intelligent and vigorous, decisive and brave–all qualities that even his enemies agreed he possessed. Note: Elizabeth Woodville is played by Barbara O’Neil who also played Mrs. O’Hara in “Gone With the Wind”–I recognized her solely by her voice.
And since today is May 19, the anniversary of Anne Boleyn’s 1536 execution, I feel a nod to the best portrayal of Anne is appropriate: “Anne of the Thousand Days”. While I loved Natalie Dormer’s performance in “The Tudors”, Genevieve Bujold’s Anne is perfection. Like “The Tudors”, it’s bad history–Mr. and Mrs. Tudor never had a cozy chat in the Tower prior to her execution–but it’s splendid entertainment. Rumor has it that Richard Burton did not love playing Henry VIII, but Bujold clearly relished every second of her clever, calculating Anne. (I was going to post a link to the official trailer, but I object strenuously to the fact that it features a scene where she deliberately goads him and his response is a ferocious backhanded slap. There are MANY examples of Anne’s strength they could have featured instead of this moment that historians agree didn’t happen.)
Not done with royal shenanigans? Two documentaries might fit the bill. First, “Tales from the Royal Bedchamber” featuring the always delightful Lucy Worsley is chock-full of delicious gossipy tidbits, while “The Queen’s Garden” is a superb introduction to the land attached to Buckingham Palace. (You’ll marvel at the queen’s fungi. Really.)