Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘1920s’

1780339542-01-_sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_

The third instalment of the Miss Fisher series starts with Phryne Fisher waking up on a train to discover that she and her fellow passengers have been chloroformed. After raising the alarm it is discovered that an elderly lady, Mrs Henderson, is missing from the train and is subsequently found dead. The honorable Miss Fisher is soon on the case, but the plot thickens when a young girl who was on the train is brought to her having lost her memory. Now Phryne is not only trying to discover who killed Mrs Henderson, but also where the girl has come from and what has happened to her to cause her to forget everything…

As with the previous two Miss Fisher novels, there is a great sense of fun in this book. However, there is a sinister undercurrent, which deals with the trafficking of young girls and a gruesome murder. The author does traverse this tightrope well though – conveying the characters’ (and by extension the readers’) disgust at the treatment of the girls, while still allowing Phryne’s sense of adventure and her liberated attitude towards sex to come through.

An enjoyable and for the most part undemanding and enjoyable read – if you like ‘cosy’ murder mysteries I would recommend the Phryne Fisher series. However, if complex character studies and intricate plots are more your thing, this series may well annoy you. I like these books very much, reading them as I do, sandwiched between other books.

Read Full Post »

1780339526-01-_sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_

This book is the second in the Phryne Fisher Mystery series, and revolves around not one, but two mysteries. The book opens with Phryne meeting a new client – a nervous lady who is convinced that her son is going to murder his father and she wants Phryne to intervene to stop this. When the father does indeed turn up dead shortly afterwards, Bill the son is naturally the main suspect.

The second mystery is the kidnapping of a young girl, whose parents engage Phryne to retrieve their daughter and return her to safety.

Naturally Phyrne, along with her friends Bert and Cec, and trusty maid Dot not only investigates the crimes, but investigates them with panache and cunning, and all while wearing a beautiful wardrobe and seducing a couple of rather gorgeous men!

I think I probably enjoyed this book marginally more than the first one (I gave the first one 3.5 out of 5, I’d give this one 4), which bodes well for the rest of the series. It is an undemanding read, sprinkled with humour and with enough twists to keep the reader interested. As ever, Phryne is loveable, exasperating and stubborn. Fans of the TV series should note that Jack Robinson hardly appears in this book (and in any event, he is entirely different in the show, not to mention still firmly married to his wife) and the main police officer in the story is Detective Inspector Benton.

Another enjoyable instalment from a series that I look forward to continuing to read.

Read Full Post »

159058385x-01-_sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_

This book introduces The Honourable Phryne Fisher, Lady Detective – except to those of us who discovered Phryne through the television series adapted from the books. Having loved the show, I decided to start reading the books and see how they compared.

In this first Miss Fisher novel, Phryne catches a thief at a dinner party and a couple there are so taken with her quick thinking and detection that they ask her to travel from her home in London to her native Australia; they believe that their daughter Lydia is being poisoned by her husband and wish Phryne to investigate. However, when Phryne arrives she discovers that things are far more complicated than they first seem, and also gets involved with tracking down an illegal abortionist. Busy she may be, but our indefatigable detective also manages to find time for a fling with a Russian dancer!

This book was highly enjoyable in many ways – Kerry Greenwood has an amusing turn of phrase and is very good at picking the humour out of any situation and relaying it to the reader. Given the subjects covered in the book, this is no mean feat! In all honesty the plot is a little bit clunky and gets a bit tied up in itself – it felt like there was maybe a bit too much going on, and the poisoning case was actually less interesting than the search for the illegal abortionist. However, it is the first book in the series and does a good job of introducing us to several characters who (as viewers of the show will know) become regulars in the storylines; Phryne’s maid Dot; the two cab drivers Bert and Cec; and of course Detective Inspector Jack Robinson – although for those viewers liked me who adored the chemistry between Phryne and Jack, well sorry to disappoint but there is absolutely no romance between the two in the book series, and Jack is actually very different to his on-screen incarnation.

Phryne Fisher is a delightfully almost-but-not-quite over the top creation, with charm and more than a touch of impish sauciness. Based on the first book, I can only say that despite it’s flaws, I’m really looking forward to reading more in the series.

Read Full Post »

4f1096f1d0e242d597a446b6141434f414f4141

This story is told in two storylines, both of which are narrated by Jennifer Doyle aka Lola Nightingale. In 1916, Jennifer accompanies her roguish father from England to America, where she is given a job with the wealthy de Saulles family. It is there that she meets and falls deeply in love with Rudolfo Gullielmi, a dancer employed by the family, who is having a relationship with Mrs de Saulles.

1926, Jennifer goes by the name Lola Nightingale, Rodolfo is now known to the world as film superstar Rudolph Valentino, and at the beginning of the book, they have just been reunited after a decade apart. Jennifer/Lola has been in love with ‘Rudy’ for the whole time, and throughout the rest of the book she proceeds to describe the events that transpired between 1916, when Rudy vanished from her life, and 1926, when he reappeared.

I enjoyed the book, and thought that the writing was engaging and flowed well. However, I veered between sympathy for and annoyance with Jennifer, who was her own worst enemy. She knows that she drinks too much and dabbles in drugs, which are doing her ambitions as a bidding scriptwriter no good, and she also becomes involved with a horrible abusive man, who is a drug dealer to the stars.

Anybody who knows about Rudolph Valentino’s life and death, will have a certain knowledge of what happens in the ending of the book. I personally really enjoy fiction books that are based around real people and events, and I liked the fact that at the end of the book, the fates of all the real people in its pages (such as Mr and Mrs de Saulles) is revealed.

Overall, while I didn’t love the central character, I did really enjoy the story and am looking forward to reading more by Daisy Waugh.

Read Full Post »

This stage adaptation of the popular Julie Andrews film comes courtesy of Willenhall Musical Theatre Company.  They may be an amateur dramatics society, but they clearly have a lot of talent within their ranks, and have put a lot of hard work into this production – and it paid off.

Briefly, the story revolves around Millie Dillmount (Abbie Rai), a young modern woman who comes to New York to find a job with a single boss who she can marry.  For Millie, marriage is not about love, but then she meets penniless Jimmy Smith (Will Phipps), and her plans go awry when despite her intentions, she starts to fall for him.  In addition there is a worrying trend of young women going missing in New York and being sold into white slavery.

This production is jam-packed with lovely songs, and they were performed wonderfully by a great cast.  Abbie Rai was adorable as Millie – and what a voice!  Will Phipps also sang wonderfully as Jimmy Smith.  Daniel Haddon was extremely funny as Millie’s boss Trevor Graydon – he has a couple of terrific songs – and Jenna Guest was perfectly cast as Millie’s friend Miss Dorothy.  The villain of the piece, Mrs Meers, was played with panache and humour by Kelly Ashman, and a special mention for Jenni Rullan as  Head Secretary at Millie’s workplace, Miss Flannery.

The staging was superb – the scenery was wonderfully effective and clever, representing Manhattan in the 1920s, and the scene changes were handled very efficiently.  The song and dance numbers were a joy to watch – I haven’t tap danced for years, but this show really made me want to start again.  I must mention the numbers where all the secretaries were wheeled on stage with matching orange wigs and bright pink tights.  Very cleverly choreographed, and brilliant to watch.

Also, as the play is set in the 1920s, it meant that there were many beautiful and glamorous outfits on show – I don’t know where the company found all those beautiful dresses, but I loved them.

One thing that surprised me was that the ending of the story was changed from the film version.  I have to admit that I personally preferred the film ending, but that is only a very very minor niggle, and didn’t detract from my enjoyment.

Overall, a terrific production with great performances and lots of laughs.

************************************************************************************************************************

Click here for my review of the 1967 film.

************************************************************************************************************************

 

Read Full Post »

Set in 1921, this film stars Rebecca Hall as a sceptic named Florence Cathcart, who makes her living exposing con artists who pose as mediums, or who claim to have witnessed ghosts.  When she is approached by history professor Robert Mallory (Dominic West), who believes that there is a ghost haunting the school where he teaches, and that the ghost is responsible for the death of a student, she travels to the school with the intention of proving that the ghost does not exist.  However, strange happenings start to make her question her own beliefs.

I’m not a huge fan of horror or ghost films – I only watched this because Dominic West, of whom I am a big fan, was in it – but this movie was actually very enjoyable, even if it did get a bit muddled towards the end.  It certainly isn’t a scary film, and there are no bloody or gory scenes, although it is very atmospheric.  There were, as you might expect, a number of ‘red herrings’ to make you question what was happening, and I particularly liked the very end, which provoked some discussion (I’m giving nothing away though!)  The characters each have their own inner struggles to deal with and overcome – Mallory for example, punishes himself for surviving the war in which he fought, while many of his friends died.  Florence has issues stemming from her childhood, and it becomes clear that they are not the only ones with secrets.

Above all, it was worth watching for the excellent performances of the entire cast.  West, Hall, together with Imelda Staunton and Isaac Hempstead Wright are all outstanding, and if you are a fan of any of these actors, I would recommend watching this film.

Year of release: 2011

Director: Nick Murphy

Producers: Jenny Borgars, Will Clarke, Olivier Courson, Robin Guise, Peter Hampden, Norman Merry, Joe Oppenheimer, Peter Raven, Carole Sheridan, Joanie Blaikie, Sarah Curtis, Ed Rubin, Julia Stannard, David M. Thompson

Writers: Stephen Volk, Nick Murphy

Main cast: Dominic West, Rebecca Hall, Imelda Staunton, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Joseph Mawle

 

Read Full Post »

The Artist was a triumph at the 2012 Academy Awards, winning five Oscars, including Best Actor for Jean Dujardin.  It perhaps was not an obvious candidate for success, being a black and white silent movie.  Or maybe that was part of the charm….either way, it was a deserving winner, for showing that excellent films do not always require huge budgets – this was comparatively cheap to make, but provided top-notch entertainment!

The film starts in 1927, and Jean Dujardin plays George Valentin, a hugely popular silent movie star.  Berenice Bejo plays Peppy Miller, a young starlet, just starting out in the movies, who meets Valentin and stars with him briefly in one film.  Two years later, and talking films are the new craze, while Valentin is seen as a has-been.  Meanwhile, Peppy is finding ever more success in the movie industry.  As Valentin falls on hard times, he grows depressed and bitter.  But there may be someone who can help him….

Sometimes when films are a novelty of sorts – which a black and white silent film certainly is these days – once the novelty has worn off, there is not much underneath.  I’m happy to say that I did not think this was the case whatsoever in this film.  Dujardin and Bejo both sparkle in their roles, and have great chemistry and charisma.  Peppy (by name and by nature) is adorable, but in the hands of a lesser actress, could easily have just been annoying.  Dujardin perfectly captures the fall from grace of George Valentin – adored and revered at first, but he soon becomes yesterday’s news, and he really struggles to cope.  And of course, his beloved and loyal dog Uggy, is just adorable!

I did find it quite a strange experience watching a film with no dialogue – it’s just not something that we are used to today, where often snappy and witty dialogue is required.  However, The Artist illustrates that you can tell a charming story without speaking – the expressions and movements of the actors, together with the sets, tell the story perfectly.

There are shades of Singin’ In The Rain in this film, dealing as it does with a similar theme – that of talking movies causing problems for silent actors.  In fact, in some scenes, Dujardin really does resemble Gene Kelly, and while I don’t know for sure, I am sure that some scenes were a direct nod to the Kelly classic.

Anyway, it’s the kind of film that I think needs to be seen to be appreciated.  I would certainly recommend it, and have no doubt that I will be watching it again in the future.

Year of release: 2011

Director: Michel Hazanavicius

Producer: Antoine de Cazotte, Daniel Delume, Richard Middleton, Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein, Jeremy Burdek, Nadia Khamlichi, Thomas Langmann, Emmanuel Montamat, Adrian Politowski, Gilles Waterkeyn, Jean Dujardin

Writer: Michel Hazanavicius

Main cast: Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo, John Goodman, James Cromwell

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »