Jeremy Brett stars in Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca (1979)

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

This post is a part of my Jeremy Brett Celebration! There are several other posts that have been/will be shared, so please feel free to visit the above page.

It's practically a crime that the Jeremy Brett version of Rebecca has never been officially released on DVD. I have an old copy recorded from television, and it serves its purpose, but when I say old copy, I mean old copy. This miniseries cinematography would stand the test of time quite admirably if it were remastered properly. I can only hope and pray that someday it is given the official DVD and/or blu-ray release that it deserves.

Until then, you can find various copies of it on YouTube. And if you're clever, you can locate the not-so-approved DVDs online created by fans of both Jeremy Brett and the miniseries.

Now that I've given the scoop on the state of the miniseries and its availability, on we go.

Joanna David as the second Mrs. de Winter

If you're not familiar with Rebecca, it is the story of a young, naive woman and her marriage to a wealthy aristocrat named Maxim de Winter. He wooed and won her while they both happened to be vacationing in Monte Carlo, he because he can and her because her employer chose Monte for her vacation. They honeymoon in Venice and then they're back in England because Maxim wants to show her his home, Manderley. Little does the second Mrs. de Winter realize that Max and Manderley are still haunted by the death of the first Mrs. de Winter, a haunting enhanced by the presence of the housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, a woman who adored the first Mrs. de Winter since she was a child. Not all is as it seems, including the rumored marital bliss of Max and his first wife, the infamous Rebecca.

Jeremy Brett and Joanna David in Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca (1979)


♥♥♥♥♥ Jeremy Brett. Jeremy Brett. Jeremy Brett.  ♥♥♥♥♥


I could pretty much end the discussion there. But I won't. 

Jeremy Brett is most known for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes. A portrayal that I adore, but he also did SO MUCH MORE throughout his remarkable career. Only a small ripple in the pond of Jeremy Brett's genius is his portrayal of Maxim de Winter in Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca.

Maxim can be an enigma. I have never finished reading the novel, primarily because Maxim is so hard for me to pin down. Rather like Jane Eyre's Mr. Rochester, Maxim seems cruel and cold and frightening. I don't like the book character and I was never 100% fond of Laurence Olivier's performance (even though I am an Olivier fan).

I was on the hunt, if you will, for my personal ideal portrayal of Maxim de Winter.

Jeremy Brett and Joanna David in Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca (1979)

Maxim needs to be a tortured and sensitive soul. It's a fine balancing act between strength and weakness, compassion and cruelty, and if the balance is tipped a tiny bit in the wrong direction, Maxim becomes almost impalatable. There can be no artifice in the performance. Authenticity and transparency are required.

And because Jeremy Brett knows how to add touches of sympathy to his slightly coarser roles, he makes Maxim an absolute delight. There is nothing more agonizing than their return to Manderley where Mrs. Danvers begins to take it upon herself to undermine the newlyweds' happiness with conniving bits of trickery. Joanna David as the second Mrs. de Winter (poor nameless character) is ideal. I've never seen the heroine as attractive, as in she's not a stunner, but she has other qualities which are what draws Maxim to her. Joanna David is PERFECT in this role. She plays the character with fragility but with a hidden strength that blossoms later in the miniseries. When Maxim needs her the most, she rises to the occasion in the vein of a true heroine.

Anna Massey as Mrs. Danvers in Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca (1979)

There's something striking about the overall production, its setting, its cast, the roaring of the sea, and above all, the unseen spirit of Rebecca hovering over Manderley, ruining everything it touches. I say her spirit, but of course, we're never sure of Rebecca's spirit being present. No, it is actually Mrs. Danvers who keeps the spirit of Rebecca alive, frighteningly portrayed by Anna Massey who had been married to Jeremy Brett between 1958-1962 until they divorced. I do wonder what it was like for them to be reunited and whether the divorce was amicable, but of that, I can't say.

Some days I just need a dark and brooding miniseries to watch, but I don't always feel inclined to watch anything by Dickens (as much as I love him) and while suspense/thrillers have their place, gothic literature is special. I've actually rewatched Rebecca twice this year because I love it so much. It serves its purpose of transporting me away to a slightly gruesome spectacle.

Jeremy Brett and Joanna David in Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca (1979)

The 1979 version of Rebecca was approved of by the author and frankly, I can't blame her. Even though I've never read the novel through to completion, I still know where the other incarnations have departed from the source material, but not so with this version. This is what makes it my favorite, despite the lack of a proper copy that has been gorgeously remastered. Jeremy Brett and Joanna David bring the story to glorious life in a perfectly unified performance, making me believe they have a true love story. What more could I ask for?

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Jeremy Brett stars in "On Approval" (BBC Play of the Month, 1982)

Monday, November 22, 2021


This post is a part of my Jeremy Brett Celebration! There are several other posts that have been/will be shared, so please feel free to visit the above page.

Go to THIS LINK to see a recording of this play that some supremely sweet soul uploaded to YouTube. I wish I could say that it was available in better condition, but alas, what you see is what you get.

Penelope Keith as Maria

On Approval is a play by Frederick Lonsdale from 1926 and it only ran for 96 performances in London's West End. Not a long run, but apparently, it was long enough to make a lasting impression. There is something outstanding about theatrical plays from the 1920s and 1930s. There's a smart sarcasm that many playrights just slap their audiences upside the faces with but in a really good way.

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Happy Birthday, Jeremy Brett!

Wednesday, November 3, 2021


On November 3rd, 1933, Jeremy Brett of Sherlock Holmes fame was born. And on September 12, 1995, he left us. He was with us for such a short period of time, but he gave us so much while he was here.

Someday, may the full body of his work be made more widely available to fans, both new and old.

Love you, Jeremy, and miss you always.

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Celebrate Jeremy Brett Month Link-Up Post

Monday, November 1, 2021

Good Morning, everyone!

November has arrived and so too has my month-long event celebrating the esteemed talent that is Jeremy Brett! If you don't know him, no worries, you'll know him by the end of November. 

When you've written your blog post for the event, please comment with your link here and I will add it to this page. 

I'm excited beyond words to be hosting this event, and I'm even more excited about my participants. You are all so very wonderful.

Participant Blog Posts





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Announcing Celebrate Jeremy Brett Month

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

The brilliant actor of Sherlock Holmes fame, Jeremy Brett's birthday falls on November 3rd. Because I seem to be in a let's-binge-watch-Jeremy-Brett frame of mind, doing a month-long celebration of his work seems like an excellent idea.

This won't be a blog party unless anyone else wants to participate and then I can do a link-up blog post. If you would like a blog button, there are a couple at the bottom of the post so be my guest.

My motivation for doing this is purely selfish. I love Jeremy Brett, plain and simple. In my nostalgic meandering through his work, I want to remind others about this amazing performer. Maybe find others who love him, or introduce him to someone who has never yet encountered him. Sort of like my goal when I hosted the Anthony Andrews Blog Hop all those years ago, or my Frank Langella Celebration. These men are all lesser-known actors who deserve incredible praise.

I won't be delving into Jeremy's private life unless it intersects with a movie or series in a fascinating way. Since he was so strongly affected by the role of Sherlock Holmes, I may make allowances and discuss a few aspects of his personal life at this time. However, respecting the privacy of performers has always been my modus operandi, and I would rather not know everything about them. In Jeremy's case, he shuffled off this mortal coil in 1995 (far, far too soon), and I wish to offer him the respect and honor that he deserves without indulging myself in idle gossip.

He is also, apparently, a man who can wear hats, judging by the photos I've used.

Some of the entertainment I shall review will be officially available on DVD or Blu-Ray. Some of it will only be available through recordings that some compassionate soul uploaded to YouTube for like-minded fans. Unfortunately, the latter is much more common than the former, and my heart grieves that reality just a little bit. But I must be grateful that his entertainment is available at all, even if it's not in the film quality that I would prefer.

Let's gear ourselves up for a month-long remembrance of Jeremy Brett, a performer who stole my heart for more reasons than just his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes.

When you've written your blog post (thank you to my participants!), feel free to link up on the Celebrate Jeremy Brett Month Link-Up Post.


      

      


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Radio Theater: Orson Welles in Dracula (7/11/1938)

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

 

Dracula 

Starring: Orson Welles, Elizabeth Fuller, George Colouris, Agnes Moorehead, Martin Gabel, Ray Collins, Karl Swenson 

Studio: Mercury Theatre on the Air 

Year: July 11, 1938 

My Rating★★★★ 

Available free from The Mercury Theatre on the Air (if you have trouble listening or downloading, you can also listen to it here on YouTube

The Mercury Theatre on the Air started its short but illustrious life with Dracula by Bram Stoker in July of 1938. Orson Welles could not have chosen a better story to launch this radio theatre to stardom although it would inevitably be War of the Worlds that would keep it famous.

Go to my Classic Hollywood page to find all my Classic Hollywood reviews!

While I have never actually read Dracula all the way through because it is epistolary, I do know enough about the story to know that, while seriously abridged, this radio version of Dracula is outstanding, to say nothing of spine-chilling. All of the main characters are who they should be, meaning that Lucy and Mina aren't related or even friends, Dr. Seward is not a bumbling old man running a sanitorium, and Jonathan Harker is a poor, traumatized young man who barely escapes Transylvania with his life. Barely. The program even includes the carnage of the ship Demeter, an important element also referenced in the 1979 film version of Dracula starring Frank Langella. 

As you're already all well aware, I love Orson Welles' radio plays. Absolutely and with abandon. If I could live in his radio plays, I would, and while Dracula is a haunting story, it is beautifully rendered in this production. The sound effects, the musical score, the performances, everything flawlessly aligns. I cannot praise it enough. I find myself sinking deeper and deeper into the story as it continues, and while there are characters and storylines omitted for the sake of time, it is still exquisite. 

Life is made better by Orson Welles and his radio career, and Dracula proves that point.

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Welcome to the Library

Saturday, October 16, 2021

 


We knew we needed 4 rooms.

Two bedrooms, a craft room, and finally, a room for a personal library.

While it might not be quite as grand as the Beast's library in Beauty and the Beast (that's our ultimate goal someday), it's still pretty awesome. This room had built-in shelves against one wall, the clincher as it were for us to really want this house.


As you can tell, we needed more bookcases (and will need more sooner rather than later).

We purchased the tv console right after the pandemic started last year because we had a gas fireplace at our apartment and this fit perfectly right in front of it. But we knew we wanted it in the library, so we purchased a fireplace log insert. It even has a heater, but mostly we use it for ambiance.


When the time comes, we'll pull the chairs away from the wall a little bit and add a couple more short white bookcases behind the chairs. The magazine holder has our Tea Time and Victoria issues.

That's it for now. We don't have the art wall up yet, but will at some point in the next week or so and then I'll share photos of it too. Blessings!

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