Still waiting for Downton Abbey 4: Before she was Countess of Grantham, Cora Levinson was the daughter of Isidore Levinson, a wealthy merchant from the Ohio, looking for entrée into British nobility in exchange for a few million American dollars. Imagine the negotiations between Martha Levinson and Violet, (then) Duchess of Grantham! For a glimpse into such negotiations, watch The Buccaneers, a BBC Classic mini-series chronicling efforts of four New York heiresses in search of aristocratic English husbands to cement their places in society. Based on an unfinished novel by Edith Wharton, The Buccaneers offers an inside look at the sumptuous and slightly cynical lives of high society and those who aspire to get there.
While waiting for the big day, fans of Downton Abbey will enjoy going back to the original Julian Fellowes Edwardian drama, Gosford Park. Before Lady Violet, Gosford Park's Constance, Countess of Trentham, issued withering glances. Gosford's Lady Sylvia made Downton's Lady Mary look like a lamb. And the downstairs intrigue at the Park was far more devilish than that of the Abbey. Written and directed by the creator of Downton Abbey, this murder mystery has humor, beautiful costumes, elegant sets, and the best of British acting talent. January 5 and Downton 4 will eventually arrive. Until then, visit Gosford Park.
New Biography: Actress Vivien Leigh is best known for her iconic performance as Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind, which first brought her to the attention of American audiences, but the British beauty enjoyed a successful career that encompassed both stage and screen in England and the United States. Other acclaimed film performances include that of aging southern belle Blanche DuBois in the 1951 film A Streetcar Named Desire, and divorcee Mary Treadwell in the 1965 drama Ship of Fools. Her role in Desire, opposite Marlon Brando as the brutish Stanley Kowalski, earned Leigh her second Oscar as Best Actress; her first coming in 1939 for GWTW.
Leigh’s career was cut tragically short by her death in 1967 from tuberculosis. She was 54. Kendra Bean’s lush, new biography of the actress, Vivien Leigh: An Intimate Portrait, provides a thoroughly engaging review of her storied career and her tumultuous private life, including her marriage to legendary British actor Sir Laurence Olivier.
Both the new book and Vivien Leigh’s major films are available at the library!
Hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving! If you’re looking for a fun family film to watch over the holiday weekend — why not revisit Mrs. Doubtfire — which was released in theaters 20 years ago this week. Robin Williams and Sally Field star in the hit comedy that features Williams as a divorced dad who disguises himself as an English nanny in a desperate attempt to spend time with his kids. Grab some popcorn, pull up chairs for the entire family — and enjoy!
So much effort for one meal! At some point, most Thanksgiving cooks must stop and wonder if it’s worth it. Two wonderful and very different movies focus on this topic: can one magnificent meal make a difference in the lives of the diners or the chef? Babette’s Feast tells the tale of a French housekeeper who brings redemption to the table along with epicurean delights when she provides a single meal to members of a pious Danish community. In Big Night, two brothers fight to find success in providing fine Italian cuisine to diners who are more familiar with Chef Boyardee. The opportunity to provide a meal to Italian bandleader Louis Prima may be just the break they need. Either Babette’s Feast and Big Night would serve as a sweet digestif to your holiday meal.
Over 10 million people tuned in to watch the highly anticipated finale of the critically-acclaimed AMC series Breaking Bad in September — and the final chapter of the story of chemistry teacher turned meth manufacturer Walter White certainly didn’t disappoint! The DVD release of the final season hits library shelves today. Reserve your copy today if you missed any of the action!
Thanksgiving Movies # 2: Hannah and Her Sisters. Woody Allen directs an all-star cast in his 1986 dramedy about family angst. Between two Thanksgivings — Hannah (Mia Farrow) watches as her husband falls in love with one of her sisters and her ex-husband falls in love with the other. As if big family gatherings weren’t stressful enough! Barbara Hershey and Dianne Wiest play the sisters, with Michael Caine, Carrie Fisher, and Julie Louis-Dreyfus among the host of supporting players who add to the dysfunction. Caine and Wiest took home Oscars for their supporting turns, as did Mr. Allen for his screenplay.
Thanksgiving S.O.S. #2: Still looking for inspiration for your Thanksgiving feast? Check out the great recipes and meal preparation tips offered by French Chef and TV personality Jacques Pepin in his DVD Thanksgiving Celebration. Bon appétit!
Thanksgiving Movies # 1: In the mood for some movies that invoke the Thanksgiving holiday? They don’t get much better than the classic John Hughes comedy Planes, Trains & Automobiles! Desperate to get home for Thanksgiving after his flight is canceled, Steve Martin is willing to travel cross-country by any means available. What he doesn’t count on is having to make the trek with an obnoxious Shower Curtain Ring Salesman, played by John Candy! Strange bedfellows indeed!