Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Persuasion Mashup

Another mashup for your imaginitive indulgence! Having already committed such foolishness of behalf of Mansfield Park, Emma, and Pride and Prejudice, I have moved on to my next victim, my very favorite Austen novel which, unfortunately, doesn't really seem to transfer to the screen as well as some of the others. I have great issues with the available Persuasion adaptations - the 1971 BBC mini-series is my favorite (yes, in spite of bad cinematography), largely because it is the only one that doesn't include, for some unfathomable reason, the chapter Austen deleted in which Captain Wentworth asks Anne on behalf of Admiral Croft if she will be wanting to reside at Kellynch following her rumored marriage to Mr. Elliot. I cannot fathom what possesses film makers to include this. The 1995 film is very good, other than that scene, and the 2007 version is fabulous up until the last fifteen minutes, at which point I start screaming every time I see it. Warning to the weary - I shall now indulge myself in a bout of ranting, for I really HATE the end of this film. Anne would not run ramshackle through the streets of Bath (let alone Mrs. Smith, who is supposed to be an invalid), that super prolonged prelude to a kiss in which Sally Hawkins looks as if she is about to eat Wentworth's face turns my stomach, and even if the estate weren't entailed onto Mr. Elliot, Captain Wentworth's 20,000 pounds still wouldn't buy him Kellynch Hall! Ahhhh! That felt good to get off my chest, and now I believe I am ready to engage in an extremely partial and prejudiced exercise, mixing and mashing my favorite actors from each role into my ideal Persuasion cast. Who would you pick?

Anne Elliot - This was very difficult, as all three actresses who have played the part have their strengths. Ann Firbank (1971) looks the most like I envision Anne, and though I cannot fairly blame the choices of the director on Sally Hawkins, I still can't forgive her for the end of the 2007 film, so the prize goes to Amanda Root, who really does do an exquisite job representing my favorite heroine in all of English literature.
(image -

Captain Wentworth - I typically prefer dark haired men to blonds, and actors who played beloved historical figures in Rome, but I have to give this one to Rupert Penry-Jones for his 2007 performance, which was exquisite! He captures the passion and emotion of Wentworth better than the other actors who have played this role - no easy feat, as anyone who has read that letter can attest to.

Sir Walter Elliot - I think Basil Dignam's performance, though dated in style, is the only one to have accurately captured the role (it might have something to do with him being the only one to quote the Baronetage). It is amusing that all three gentlemen who have played the part resemble each other physically. Unfortunately, there is not an image to be found.

Lady Russell - I prefer Susan Fleetwood in this role, from the 1995 production, but I must mention Alice Krige's rather sinister, 2007 portrayal, as she was also the Borg Queen (a rather terrifying personage) in the Star Trek movies. How very creepy she is, but certainly not the Lady Russell Austen created.

Mary Musgrove - I prefer Morag Hood in this role, as she is both charming when appropriate and whinny the rest of the time (I wish I had an image to share). I cannot help myself but must comment on Amanda Root's sniveling 2007 interpretation, which I loathed. Stand up straight woman! You are the daughter of a baronet!

Charles Musgrove - I like Simon Russell Beale, 1995. There is a look in his eye that perfectly captures the awkwardness of Charles predicament, torn between a high-maintenance wife and family. Today, he would live in his man cave instead constantly going off shooting. What a real character! We've all known one. Unfortunately, I could only find a picture of his back.

Louisa Musgrove -I prefer Emma Robert's 1995 performance the best. Hers is the most likeable portrayal of Louisa. This rather unsatisfying image is the only one I could find. Louisa is to the left of Harriet, and you can see Mary and Charles in the background en route to Winthrop.

(image -

Henrietta Musgrove - I must go back to '71, when Mel Martin took this role. As Louisa is the Musgrove who tempts Captain Wentworth (though only due to her availability), film makers seem to have a difficult time remembering that it is Henrietta who is generally reckoned the most handsome. As I had not even the slightest hope of finding an image, I escaped disappointment.

Elizabeth Elliot - This was another hard call, but again I think I must go back to 1971 and Valerie Gearon's portrayal. It is the most natural, later performances tending towards caricature. Again, no picture ...

Mr. Elliot - Here the Rome bias plays out. Tobias Menzies (who played Brutus) is by far my favorite Mr. Elliot. He treads that charming but sinister line terribly well. 

Mrs. and Admiral Croft - I've paired them together as Fiona Shaw and John Woodvine were picture perfect in 1995, just like they had stepped off of the streets of Bath as Austen described them right into my living room.

(image - Each Little World)

Mrs. Clay - Mary Stockley from the 2007 production. Frankly, she's the only one pretty enough for me to believe could really perceived as a serious threat to Mr. Elliot's succession, though it would be better if she had freckles, which none of the actresses in this role seem to have. What to do with all that Gowlands?

(image -

Mr. and Mrs. Musgrove - Again, I must commend the casting in 1995, for Judy Cornwell and Roger Hammond look every bit their parts as do the Crofts - large and jolly, just as they should be. I have no patience with undersized Musgroves, and even less patience with my inability to locate an image of the fat and proper ones.

Captain Harville - Robert Glenister, 1995. He looks so much the sailor (which you can't see as I again am pictureless) and delivers those lines on woman's constancy very well.

Captain Benwick - I prefer Richard McCabe (1995) in this role. Here he is pictured behind Anne and Wentworth, right after Lousia's fall from the Cobb.

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Quickly, just in the name of thoroughness, I like Mr. Shepherd as portrayed by Michael Fenton Stevens (2007), Helen Schlesinger as Mrs. Smith (1995), Sally George as Mrs. Harville (also 1995) and Paul Alexander as Charles Hayter (1971), who had very little competition (not sure who that Henry fellow in 1995 was supposed to be - are Austen fans so stupid that we can't handle two characters having the same name without being thrown into confusion? Certainly not!). I have no opinion on Lady Dalrymple and her daughter, who are as much non-entities to me as Colonel Wallis.

So there you have it. Are we in agreement or have I slighted your favorite actor? Please tell me all about it! And for those of you who haven't seen the 1971 version, check out this short clip from the very beginning of the film. You'll get a glimpse of all the Elliots, quite useful since I couldn't find images of Mary or Sir Walter. This is when the latter quotes the Baronetage - my favorite intro to my favorite book! Enjoy.


  1. Well, strangely enough, you've chose Rupert Penry-Jones as your Wentworth. I would have never guessed! But... Guess what? I've also aways preferred dark - haired men in my life . Blond RPJ caught my attention, anyhow, since I first saw him as Adam Carter in Spooks. And when I saw him in Captain Wentworth's uniform, I was lost.
    Differently from you, I loved ITV Persuasion 2007 (ending rush through Bath streets included) since it was the first adaptation ever, I had seen of my favourite Austen. And that counts a lot, that influences a lot, I think, my judgement.
    I can't stand adaptations from the 70s, I'm afraid I find them just ... unbearable. I tried with Emma, for instance, but it was such an effort! I was laughing most of the time ... and not at funny or comical situations!
    I'm sorry if I sound irreverent but that's just my very personal opinion.
    As for the scene deleted by Austen but present in both 1995 and 2007 adaptations, I suppose that if you don't add that one to a film version there's actually so little happening between the two protagonists, so little interaction between them that can't work. Not for a modern audience, I think. I don't mind that scene at all, Captain Wentworth is so desperately anxious to know, so's such a thrilling scene especially because it is interrupted. It creates movement and suspence.
    So, you see, we slightly differ in our opinions but I respect most of your choices here.
    Thanks for this interesting post. MG

  2. Hi Maria! I know those old BBC adaptations are not everyone's cup of tea, but I love them. Maybe this is due to watching so much British TV as a child - I really don't know - but I prefer precise screen adaptations and get impatient when the film makers take what I perceive as too many liberties. You make an interesting argument for the inclusion of the deleted scene, but it puts Wentworth in such an awful situation - I have a hard time believing he would suffer it. It also casts a dispersion on Lady Russell (by suggesting that she is responsible for the rumor) which makes me uncomfortable. But why do I do this if not to debate? I love hearing everyone's different opinions.

    By the way, the 1971 version was my first Persuasion adaptation, so maybe that's playing into my prejudices as well, though I do love how closely it sticks to the book, only omitting the scene when young Charles breaks his collar bone.

  3. As always, Alexa, these mashups are a delight! I know I say this each time but I really do need to get a hold of these BBC adaptions and watch them for myself! I absolutely love Admiral and Mrs. Croft from the 1995 version. I always imagine them when I read any Persuasion novel!

  4. Thanks Meredith. I would love to hear your perspective on the old BBC adaptations. They are not everyone's cup of tea, but I do adore them. Did you know that most are available for instant viewing on Netflix? If you have a subscription, I would check them out.

  5. I agree with so many of your choices! Like the need for fat Musgroves! How could anyone get THAT wrong? I really need to see the 2007 version sometime. I've seen clips of the ending and was put off, but I should at least watch the beginning, right? I like so much of the 2005 version, but Elizabeth was just all wrong in that one. And in spite of Anne's 1960's hairdo and the awful plaid dress, I also like the 1971 version, though I admit it took a little while to grow on me. (I could, however, cheerfully throw *that* Louisa off the Cobb myself!) Thanks for the interesting (as always) post!

  6. Hi Barbara! I'm so glad to see your comment and must say I absolutely adored Charity Envieth Not and can't wait for the next volume of George Knightly, Esquire! Now that I've got the gushing out of the way, I can assure you that the 2007 Persuasion is definitely worth watching, though I found the end absolutely infuriating. The 1971 version is by far the most satisfying for me. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one to treasure it.

  7. Aw, thanks! I'm working away at book 2.... :)