Wednesday, June 10, 2009

fantasy land

The multi talented Hovey sisters have a lock on the Raj. I have always preferred the fantasy land created by Mr. Somerset Maugham.

The pre WW-II world of the British ex-pat in the far east. Raffles Hotel, Singapore, China, Malay. The weather reminds me a lot of living in the Low Country only with better clothes.

After the master engineers left, and after lunch, Mrs. T decided to leave me alone for the afternoon. It was rainy, so I curled up with TIVO, and re-watched a lot of old movies. The Letter, with Herbert Marshall and Bette Davis.

Bette is cold as ice. It's a role she played a hundred times. Scheming, cheating wife of a decent guy. Half the men in the movie sell their soul to do her bidding. Based on a Maugham short story. The men's clothes are fantastic. Mostly all white, silk suits for day wear, dinner jackets in the evenings. I realize movies are made of magic, but I have never seen such structured clothes move so well in real life. Life in the tropics in uncreasable suits. Go figure.

The Painted Veil came next.

Another Maugham story based in China, after the first world war. It's gloriously filmed. If you haven't seen it, you must. Naomi Watts is stunning. Its the story of a couple who marry although they barely know each other. She is quickly bored by being a doctor's wife in Shanghai, and has an affair with the British Consul. The good doctor quickly finds out and for revenge drags his wife to the interior to help him fight a cholera epidemic. He's half hoping she dies. She's half expecting to.

Over time they mature, appreciate each other and eventually fall in love. I cry every time.

As a period piece it works well. In the hottest weather, in the worst muck, he's buttoned up. Dressed in linen suits, with vest and tie. The suit rumples, shows sweat stains and he doesn't care a wit. The clothes throughout are fantastic. Did I mention Naomi is stunning?



Kathleen said...

Yikes, how interesting. I have "The Letter" on my TIVO. I'll curl up with it soon.

Isn't TIVO one of the very best inventions ever? It's right up there with the light bulb and antibiotics, if you ask me.

Toad said...

suddenly we have cable options and the first q MrsT asks is can I keep my TIVO. Its a deal killer for most,

Dumbwit Tellher said...

I loved the "Painted Veil". The scenery was breathtaking. I am a huge Betty Davis fan. She was always such the "bitch", & we loved her for it.
Nothing more ideal than digital recording & my Apple laptop. I would be much thinner & active if it weren't for those two evil devices.
Great post Toad as always!

~Tessa~Scoffs said...

Great post. Can't get enough of W. Somerset Maugham. He is one of my all time favorite authors. I go back to him again and again. I currently have both volumes of his collected short stories bedside. I particularly like the stories with redemptive themes.

Toad said...

While at the library this morn, I picked up one of Maugham's novels, thought for about 6 seconds, and told myself not in the summer.

Thank you for your comments.

Easy and Elegant Life said...

Mrs. E. and I just watched "A Handful of Dust." Great charades scene.... by the end she was cursing me and vowing that I should never again be allowed near the Netflix queue.

I was laughed at for carrying an unlined cotton sportcoat, knit tie and tailored khakis into the bush in West Africa.... but you never know. At one point, because of the duds and my leather passport cover, a too young machine wielding border guard let me through unquestioned as he assumed I was a diplomat (I understand French and my companion, a little patois....) Different times.

Bring on the white silk suits!

日月神教-任我行 said...