We were amused by an article by Devoney Looser in The Independent in which she talks about the various adaptations of Pride and Prejudice over the years, and the various Mr. Darcys. Olivier vs. Rintoul vs. Firth vs. Macfadyen is old news, but Devoney mentions a planned 1974 big-screen adaptation that never got made, featuring Peter O’Toole (!!!) as Darcy and… no one in particular for Elizabeth. Now, had they been making the film ten years earlier, when O’Toole was fresh off Lawrence of Arabia, he would have been the Hottest Darcy Ever™ (sorry, Colin and Larry, but it’s true). In 1974? We don’t know. After one has played Mr. Chips, however brilliantly, can one believably play Mr. Darcy?
“…read all of Northanger Abbey…as a commentary on fangirl culture” YES.
Well, that didn’t take very long! Shooting has already begun on Whit Stillman’s Love and Friendship, and the paparazzi have obliged with photos from the set. We are perfectly delighted with the ladies’ hats shown in this article. We are also charmed by Ms. Beckinsale toting about a hot water bottle as shown at left–must be chilly in Dublin! Her outfit looks quite proper for Lady Susan Vernon, who has only been four months a widow and is still in mourning–though she appears to be wearing gray, or half-mourning, underneath. There are lots more photos in this article, including photos of Chloe Sevigny as Mrs. Johnson, Stephen Fry as Mr. Johnson, and Xavier Samuel as Reginald DeCourcy (and the sort-of hero has an article of his own as well). We know there is always a great deal of interest in the hero, so we’ve included a photo in this post as well.
As a general FYI, the article states the film is set in the 1790s. According to notes in the Oxford Illustrated edition of the Minor Works, R.W. Chapman thought Lady Susan was written around 1795 and Brian Southam thought it more properly belonged to 1793-1794.
There has been some confusion expressed over the title of this movie, and whether Austen’s hilarious juvenile story Love and Freindship (and for those who don’t know, that’s not a typo) will be part of the film, in some sort of mashup. We stress that we have no way of knowing for sure, but we’re happy to speculate. We doubt that Austen’s L&F is included in this production in any way. It is a completely different feel from Lady Susan–it’s very broad in its humor, and is a parody of the novels of sentiment of the time. Lady Susan is not at all a parody. From what we’ve seen, the casting of this movie has only included characters from Lady Susan, so it’s safe to assume that the only story will be Lady Susan. (Unless Stillman borrows from Patricia Rozema and has Frederica Vernon writing silly juvenile stories such as L&F? We hope not.) So why the change of title? Because when you think about it, the phrase “Love and Friendship” related to Lady Susan is kind of brilliant. There is so much manipulation and deception in LS masquerading as–love and friendship.
Also, Lady Susan is not well-known to the non-Janeite general public. A character called “Lady Susan,” to the Muggles, denotes a proper, upright woman of fine character–in other words, not Susan Vernon. Love and Friendship, as a title, will be easier to market–even more so as it will inevitably be Jane Austen’s Love and Friendship. That should bring ’em in in droves!
We have some more thoughts about Lady Susan that we will be posting later this week.
We are delighted to pass on the news that Whit Stillman’s film Love and Friendship (which seems to actually be an adaptation of Lady Susan–yes, we know, but Whit Stillman) will begin filming this month in Ireland, according to Variety. Kate Beckinsale will take the role of Lady Susan Vernon (replacing Sienna Miller, who was attached to the role last year when this film was first discussed) and Chloe Sevigny will still be playing “her friend and confidante,” we suppose meaning Mrs. Johnson. The two actors co-starred in Stillman’s film The Last Days of Disco, and of course Janeites know Kate Beckinsale as Emma Woodhouse in the 1997 A&E/BBC television adaptation of Emma.
In the film set in the 1790s, Beckinsale will portray the widow Lady Susan Vernon, who has come to the estate of her in-laws to wait out the rumors about her dalliances that are circulating through polite society. She decides to secure a husband for herself and her rather reluctant debutante daughter.
The cast includes Xavier Samuel as the object of Lady Susan’s affections, and Stephen Fry, who’ll play the long-suffering husband to Lady Susan’s friend and confidante portrayed by Sevigny.
STEPHEN FRY! WHIT STILLMAN! We shall run distracted!
The Playlist has yet more cast members:
The cast also includes Xavier Samuel (“Adore,” “Fury,” “The Twilight Saga”) as the object of Lady Susan’s affections, Stephen Fry as Mr. Johnson, the long-suffering husband to Lady Susan’s friend and confidante Alicia (Sevigny), as well as Emma Greenwell, Morfydd Clark, Jemma Redgrave, James Fleet, Tom Bennett and Justin Edwards.
Mrs. Johnson’s first name is Alicia, so that confirms Chloe Sevigny’s role.
We have high hopes for this production. If you haven’t seen Mr. Stillman’s delightful Metropolitan, which is not an adaptation of Mansfield Park precisely but certainly has echoes of it, try to track down the DVD. It’s unfortunately no longer available on Netflix streaming, but the DVD can be rented, and it’s available as a digital rental (and very inexpensive purchase) from Amazon in the U.S. If anyone can produce an Austen adaptation that doesn’t insult our intelligence, it is Whit Stillman. Fingers crossed!
Thanks to Alert Janeite Cinthia for sending us the good news!
Chloe Sevigny has also been cast as “her close friend,” we suppose meaning Mrs. Johnson.
Stillman told Screen: “The other two early novels Jane Austen wrote became Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility the story of the brilliant Lady Susan Vernon’s struggles with the wealthy, smug De Courcy clan is perhaps her most sparkling comedy.
“In our search for the right Susan Sienna Miller showed how the role might be infused with freshness and verve. She is a wonderful talent who will lead a brilliant ensemble cast.”
“Whit’s delicious screenplay revolving around the fantastically selfish Lady Susan is filled with the pleasurable comedy and pithy social insights for which both Stillman and Austen are renowned,” said Protagonist CEO Mike Goodridge.
We are actually kind of excited about this.
P.S. Does anyone else remember Keen Eddie?
This article popped up in our Google Alerts and made us quite cross, for several reasons.
Jerry Slowik came in third place Thursday on “Jeopardy!”, but the 28-year-old from Arlington Heights still took home more than $122,000 from his five wins on the television game show.
Thursday’s show was rough for a number of reasons, Slowik said after the episode aired. He said a heavy lunch and difficult categories including “Jane Austen” and “Tunnels” were enough to put him off his game, leading to a finish in last place.
Sadly, that was the first episode of Jeopardy we had missed in a several days, so we had already seen several of Mr. Slowik’s wins. While he was knowledgeable, he was up against other knowledgeable people and won partly because of strategic betting (always important on Jeopardy) and also, seemingly, because he was one of those who was quick to hit the button and ring in first to answer. This is not to discount his wins at all–he did very well, obviously, taking home six figures. So needless to say, we were astonished to read a claim that he found Jane Austen soooo harrrrrrd. (Here are the questions from the game, courtesy of the fabulous J! Archive. At the time of the writing of this post, the Double Jeopardy questions, which apparently include the Jane Austen questions, were not yet posted.)
We were also bummed that we missed it because it is the only time within our memory that Jane Austen has had an entire category to herself on Jeopardy–we’ve seen individual questions before, even Final Jeopardy, but never a whole category, and we were all curiosity about the actual puzzles.
Then Alert Janeite Lisa sent us video of the clearly fabulous, one-of-us Sarah Olson running the category!
And then Alex Trebek had to go and ruin it with his crack about “aren’t you glad you read ALL THOSE JANE AUSTEN BOOKS when YOU WERE YOUNG*?” Wait a minute… she’s still young! So you mean when she was a schoolgirl, because who but a schoolgirl who was forced to by an evil English teacher would read Jane Austen? Do we have to pull out the SNL skit? (language and rudeness warning)
Don’t mess with the Janeites, Alex. Just don’t.
*or did he say “when you were a tot?” Which is worse. Geez, Alex.
First, a preview of yet another version of P&P1995–this time, a Blu-ray edition with extras. Sadly, can’t embed it, apparently, but you can pop over to the Entertainment Weekly site to watch.
In addition to the classic story, the new version will include extras such as a featurette celebrating the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s most popular novel, and two featurettes exploring love, courtship, money, and social class in early 19th-century England.
Secondly, something rather more earthy. Heather L. brought this to our attention on Facebook–we had seen it before but forgot about it and it made us laugh, so we are sharing. The language is earthy, but bleeped, and the literary analysis excellent. Jane be slingin’ irony all day, e’er day.
Enjoy, and have a good day!