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I now consider this blog to be my Juvenelia. Have fun perusing the archives, and find me at my new haunt, here.

Friday, January 09, 2009

THE TOP FIVE PERIOD LITERARY ADAPTATION HOTTIES

First, let's remind ourselves of some of the criteria:
  1. Smouldering
  2. Sneering
  3. Delighted chuckling
  4. Breech-wearing [and lifting up tails whilst sitting down]
  5. Steed-riding
  6. Manor-owning
  7. Witticism-uttering
  8. Maintaining an air of mystery
  9. British-accenting
  10. Oath-swearing
  11. You get the idea. Here they are.
#1 Colin Firth

"In vain have I struggled."
Colin wins, hands-down for the resurgence of Darcymania--his Darcy was more snide, haughty, and cold than any other in history, and his diving into the lake, fencing, and bathtub scenes famously reversed the male gaze and made him a sex object. Then, his transformation to humility and stammering awkwardness after Jennifer Ehle's Lizzy rejects him puts H-h-hugh Grant to shame. Colin's also done a nice job glowering and panting after Scarlett Johansenn as the painter Vermeer in Girl With the Pearl Earring, seducing young Irish ladies as a caddish landowner in Circle of Friends, trading clever barbs with Rupert Everett in the Importance of Being Earnest, and parodying himself in the Bridget Jones movies.

#2 Greg Wise

"Will you allow me to ascertain if there are any breaks?"

Supplanting Kenneth Branagh as Emma Thompson's leading man in real life gets him points, but even though he's potentially less famous than some of the others on this list, he's this high because he owns the role of the cad so utterly and completely. From the ultimate betrayer, Willoughby, in Sense and Sensibility (leading Kate Winslet to alter a recital of a Shakespeare Sonnet thus: " Oh no! It is an ever fixed mark that looks on tempests and is never shaken. Willoughby. Willoughby. Willoughby.") His finest work might be on Materpiece Theater: in Madame Bovary, he shows his bare ass off as Rodolphe, consummating his love with Emma Bovary in a forest (with horses nearby. They were out riding, you see.). And he also "takes" Nan St. George, corsets and all, in the midst of a cornfield in TV's turgid adaptation of Wharton's "The Buccaneers". No wonder Emma Thompson loves him so!

#3 Sir Laurence Olivier.

Because besides all that Shakespearean stuff, the Vivien Leigh business, and Lord Nelson, Sir L. got to play both romantic heroes Darcy and Heathcliff, (not to mention the uber-secretive Maxim de Winter) and he perfected the snarling glower, the pacing restlessness, and the lustful eyes long before the current hunks were even born. It's enough to get a girl singing Kate Bush at the top of her lungs.

"Cathy!"

#4 Ciaran Hinds

Alright, so the was in worst movie ever ever ever (Miami Vice). But his performance as Captain Wentworth in Persuasion was so so so finely wrought, un-Hollywood, and sexy in a subdued way that we finally root for him over the more traditionally dishy Mr. Eliot (more on that lothario in the previous installment). Plus, he makes a wild and passionate Edward Rochester in Jane Eyre, he's a kick-ass julius Caesar on "Rome", and he dared to play the Mayor of Casterbridge, one of Hardy's most depressing characters (other than obscure old Jude), which speaks to his integrity and craft and all that other important actor-y stuff.

"You pierce my soul."

#5-Jeremy Northam

Maybe it's because he redeemed Emma (while Gwyneth was ugh) ...but more likely because of his spot-on turn in An Ideal Husband as a confident, noble politician with a shameful secret in his past (held by the delicious Julianne Moore)... and even more because of his ruthless, conniving and yes, very sexy (bearded!) role as Prince Amerigo in the Merchant-Ivory adaptation of James' The Golden Bowl. He's got Uma and Kate Beckinsale pining away. And because of his fandom.


Okay, so what are your quibbles? I'm happy to debate 'em.

And don't forget I'm adding five new hotties from movies I've seen in the last two years... So of those, WHO WILL BE NUMBER ONE? Will it be a concealed Jew who thinks he's the bastard spawn of nobility? A snarling mill-owner softened by a lady's touch? Or what about an "emo" Rochester, an Edward Ferrars who chops wood in the rain, or perhaps a country doctor who pines after a young winsome patient? Tune in to the next installment.

10 comments:

  1. I very much hope you'll be mentioning Richard Armitage in North & South. Smouldering with a Northern accent. It doesn't get any better than this!!

    If you've not seen it yet, get it this weekend!

    Laura Essendine
    Author – The Accidental Guru
    The Accidental Guru Blog
    The Books Limited Blog

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  2. MR. DARCY FTW.

    I don't actually like any Jane Austen except for P&P and I happen to think that seeing Colin Firth playing Mr. Darcy before I ever read the book might have had something to do with it.

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  3. I am SO GLAD to see your hints at the end of the post, including BUT NOT LIMITED TO

    emo Rochester
    rain-soaked-wood-chopping Edward Ferrars
    and wait
    you DID mention
    stammering-in-the-hedgerows Henry Tilney
    DIDN'T YOU?

    because I really hope you did.

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  4. I'm with Laura! It is essential that the 'snarling mill-owner softened by a lady's touch" be included on this list! (And y'all, the book is even BETTER than the mini!)

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  5. Yeah, Richard Armitage is really in a class all his own. He deserves an honourable mention!

    ReplyDelete
  6. And I just read the hints for next time... disregard my previous comment!

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  7. Anonymous4:48 PM

    You have GOT to be kidding about Ciaran Hinds as Rochester -- he was one of the WORST Rochesters ever and made a mockery of the role. And you have left off your list the BEST Rochester ever, TOBY STEPHENS!

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  8. Best Rochester by far was Timothy Dalton, no question.

    Ciaran Hinds might not have been a good Rochester but he was the best ever Capt Wentworth. He and Amanda Root had the most amazing on-screen chemistry. They needn't remake Persuasion because it's already been done perfectly.

    Laura Essendine
    Author – The Accidental Guru
    The Accidental Guru Blog
    The Books Limited Blog

    ReplyDelete
  9. To respond to all the comments...

    OF COURSE I haven't forgotten a certain snarling northerner... and as for the best Rochester, I happen to like the wildness of Hinds' portrayal, and anonymous, although a long-haired, cuter Rochester who has not yet been mentioned, may have a more applauded performance, I thought it was an interesting piece of Hinds' repertoire. I picked Hinds for Wentworth, which is more than definitive.

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  10. Anonymous11:33 PM

    Well, different strokes for different folks!

    Agree that Hinds is the definitive Wentworth.

    I'll give you no argument about the "wildness" of Hinds' portrayal of Rochester... he played him like a barking dog. After the failed wedding, he behaves so psychotically towards Jane that one wants to say "Run, Jane, run fast and far, and never come back!". Maybe it would have been a better portrayal if Hinds had actually read the book before he played the character.

    Timothy Dalton is the one who is far too good-looking for the role of Rochester.

    I don't consider Toby Stephens to be "cuter"; rather I consider his portrayal of Rochester to be phenomenally nuanced, in that he succeeds in convincingly portraying the multi-faceted nature of Rochester as actually written by Charlotte Bronte. And a big plus is that he has real screen chemistry with his Jane.

    ReplyDelete