Sunday, March 26, 2006

Cooler flickr pool hath no one ...

... than Withnail and I over at flickr. I was recently added to the contact list of withnail_eye — I don't know why; I don't know what I did to deserve it, but it was a treat, because he (he? she? probably he) has taken some great photos of Penrith, Cumbria, the real-life setting of the on-location shots of one of my absolute favourite films of all time, one of the best films ever made, and often referred to as a "cult" film, Withnail & ISee this movie's record at the Internet Movie Database, the film that introduced me to my favourite member of the McGann clan, Paul, (there are three others, including Mark McGann, of The Grand, Series 2See this movie's record at the Internet Movie Database), to Richard E. Grant (How to Get Ahead In AdvertisingSee this movie's record at the Internet Movie Database, L.A. StorySee this movie's record at the Internet Movie Database, Gosford ParkSee this movie's record at the Internet Movie Database, Bright Young ThingsSee this movie's record at the Internet Movie Database),and to Richard Griffiths, whose current claim to fame is as Harry Potter's evil Uncle Vernon (See this movie's record at the Internet Movie DatabaseSee this movie's record at the Internet Movie DatabaseSee this movie's record at the Internet Movie Database).

Paul McGann is one of those talented British character actors who pop up all over the place (he's got 54 roles listed at his IMDB page) and are sure to have a place in The League of Obscure British Actors (which is really hard to find now: a Google Search including McGann turns up this site, so when it was indexed it had him on it, but that site will now quickly redirect you to this livejournal page, where it is hard, if possible at all, to find the actors that were once listed; and nobody has written about the League on wiki ...). He was also the very short-lived 8th Doctor (how could they waste his regenerations like that?!) — his IMDB trivia page gives the quote "I don't want to be remembered as the George Lazenby of Doctor Who." Oddly, enough, though I know of only one appearance: this made-for-tv movie, which I can't find for sale anywhere, this page suggests that he was also in four episodes, which is news to me.

McGann most recently (for me) played an enjoyable villain in Kidnapped, which recently played on Masterpiece Theatre — Kidnapped, by the way, provided one of the latest of Lisa's and my favourite quotes: as soon as I saw the Highland Witch woman say "Not everybody's as friendly as I am" I looked at Lisa knowingly and laughed and she looked at me annoyed and crabby, since she knew I was implying that this would be the end-result of her ever-increasing curmudgeonly, misanthropic ways. Nonetheless she has embraced this quote as her own and we say it often. He was also (barely) in Queen of the DamnedSee this movie's record at the Internet Movie Database, though his part as David Talbot was cut to the bone, as was the case with all the other minor characters, since they were combining two novels. And it looks like he's going to be in another Geraldine McEwan Marple: I can't wait! (Yes, I said it before, and I'm saying it again: I don't care what the Marple afficionados say about it; I don't care if Joan Hickson is more accurate or faithful to the original — this is one place where my pedantry and addiction to purism is taking a back seat to actually enjoying what I watch. Hickon is unbearably, narcolepsy-inducingly dull and extremely unplesasant to watch. If this is accurate, then Christie's Marple in the books much also be a remarkably unpleasant character. McEwan is simply a delight. It's the difference between drinking a cold cup of tea and a bottle of champagne.)

But I digress. (I always do.)

For me, Griffiths will always be Uncle Monty, Grant will always be Withnail, and McGann will always be & I (my pedantry does not go so far as for me to want to call him "Marwood" though my pretentiousness will always go so far as for me to be sure everybody knows he's called Marwood ). This movie was probably one of the first "indies" I saw or at least that I noticed was an "indie" when I first saw it (I saw it on the big screen when it first came out in Boston in 1987), and I have always loved the name of the production company, Handmade Films, George Harrison's baby.

I have watched it several times since, and I still gasp every time & I first wakes up in the morning after they arrive at Penrith and sees the view over the lake. This film is one of the things that cemented my relationship with Lisa, since it was one of her favourite films already before she moved to Boston in 1990 and when I brought home a rented VHS copy she was thrilled that I loved it too. As mentioned in a link below, it is also an inexhaustible source of memorable quotes. I have generally gravitated to Withnails' - since even when I first saw the movie I felt that the things he said were rather a lot like things that used to come out of my mouth at the time. Things like "I feel ... unusual" and "I demand to have some food booze !" [I'm so mortified that I got that quote wrong; I guess it shows how my priorities have changed over the years... you can see lots more quotes here and the whole script here] I've always identified more with Withnail than & I, in fact, though I'm much more boring and have far, far fewer vices, sadly.

You can find out more about the film, including some wonderful real-life autobiographical background, on the web. A couple of years ago I scoured up these links:
  • From here: ""Withnail was based on Bruce Robinson's best friend from drama school Vivien MacMillan (I think that's his surname). This larger-than-life hedonistic thespian died of throat cancer in his early 40s. Robinson was quoted as saying "I could never believe that the biggest coward I'd ever met could become the bravest man I have ever seen in so short a space of time. They ripped his voice out." and "Apparently, when Vivian Mackerrall had had his throat removed because of the cancer, he had to be fed through a tube which ran directly into his stomach. Towards the end, he was pouring brandy into it by way of a funnel."
  • A site on Bruce Robinson
  • From here, "The Withnail and I script contains a virtually non-stop array of one-liners from all the characters... making it one of the most quotable films ever made." [emphasis mine]
  • The Criterion Collection's blurb on the DVD is here.
  • This: Withnail & I is a book about the film
  • A Withnail forum
  • An interview with Richard E. Grant
  • Bruce Robinson on IMDB

Plus you can find more links at the Withnail pool. Speaking of which: I had never really got off my fat butt to find out whether the Penrith of the film really existed, but it does, and these great photos prove it. I wonder if you can go on a "Withnail tour" (if there is, a google search doesn't turn one up) like the Pride and Prejudice tour (from the good versionSee this movie's record at the Internet Movie Database) I know you used to be able to do, or if these photos are just spontaneous.

(By the way: somebody should buy me this Doctor Who Mega Collection for $589.95, at least until they come out with a more complete set. I've been a fan of the Doctor since I was 5 years old, when I was brought back to the UK for the first time after our emigration for my grandmother's funeral, when the show was on its 2nd or 3rd season, still in Black and White, and I was given a great Dalek toy that would roll around on the kitchen floor and change directions whenever it bumped into a wall: who knew 1966 technology was so cutting-edge?!)

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At Mon Jul 09, 08:15:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

He! ... He! ...... I'm a HE!!! :D

Great review, you missed the best bit though ... the photos of Withnail's Jag, Crow Crag, and Mr Parkin's tractor taken DURING filming. Only people that have 'joined' and are signed in get to see them though. The Jag ones are my faves, couldn't believe it when they were posted.

As for your invite ....... well, we chose you out of thousands! tee hee.

Great blog - keep it up.

Kind regards withnail_eye ;)


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