December 13, 2012

"I confess I feel somewhat bewildered by what you have just told me..."

"... to be born, or at any rate, bred, in a handbag, whether it had handles or not..."



Via Terry Teachout.

21 comments:

Robin said...

This version of The Importance of Being Ernest is my favorite. This particular scene is the pinnacle of hilarious. Every line is a jewel.

edutcher said...

I've always thought Wilde was witty only in the outtakes.

Saki was much funnier.

tim maguire said...

One of the all-time great lines: "To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness."

Chip Ahoy said...

There's a guy I know who writes crossword puzzles prolifically who reminds me of Oscar Wilde in every way. If you would speak to him you'd get that sense too. He has a very dry wry brutal lewd wit. Trip Payne. They're like twins. I just now looked at his profile and it doesn't mention anything about his being scrabble champion. His understanding of that game is vast, he either memorized the books or wrote them, I don't recall offhand which, I just remember him talking to somebody else about knowing all the possible legal words of specific combinations and thinking, gee, a regular person wouldn't have a chance. I also recognize the people on the crossword champion lists by year. You notice it's the same names year after year. They all know each other. It's a clique. And not a difficult clique to crash. I found them all very accepting. All I had to do was gush about the single thing they're truly expert and show a half decent solving ability myself, with potential, as long as I kept acknowledging their superior Mentad abilities.

Balfegor said...

Re: edutcher:

Saki has the advantage of coming a generation later, after the basic technological infrastructure of English humour -- the Wildes and Jerome K. Jeromes -- had already been developed.

A great pity he died in the War.

john said...

"Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth."

Prescient. He would be at home here.

rcocean said...

I agree Robin, this is my favorite version. Great acting. Edith Evans especially.

Mary Beth said...

edutcher said...

I've always thought Wilde was witty only in the outtakes.

Saki was much funnier.

12/13/12 7:10 PM


I just finished listening to an audiobook of Saki short stories read by Stephen Fry. The only bad thing about it is that it only had a few of the stories. Needs more Clovis.

wholelottasplainin' said...

Watching this, it's pretty clear where Maggie Smith got her inspiration for her Downton Abbey character.

gpm said...

This is unquestionably the best scene in the movie. Second is probably the one where Gwendolen and Cecily first meet, except for the insufferable mugging by the butler.

The Rupert Everett/Colin Firth version was a travesty. They kept cutting out the punchlines (WTF???), and making the obviously older RE the older brother just ruined the ending. Though I did like the musical number. And Judy Dench wasn't bad, though no one could match Dame Edith ("There will be a large accumulation of income").

Lady B's handbag line is so emblematic that they just stuck it in the middle of an Are You Being Served episode (I know, I know), unadorned, as if everyone obviously would know the reference. Said by John Inman in drag, of course.

--gpm

Lem said...
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Lem said...
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Chip Ahoy said...

The logical fallacy there is the switch that occurs at the point where the handbag becomes the parent and not just the delivery vessel.

AlanKH said...

He should find a nice girl who was born in a binder.

Pogo said...

A mere century or so later and he'll be able to marry however many people (or animals I suppose) he wants.

"In their statement “Beyond Same-Sex Marriage,” more than 300 self-styled LGBT and allied scholars and advocates—including prominent Ivy League professors—call for legally recognizing sexual relationships involving more than two partners."

And how strange for me to recall same-sex marriage proponents arguing that the suggestion this expansion would occur was ridiculous hate speech.

MadisonMan said...

Watching this, it's pretty clear where Maggie Smith got her inspiration for her Downton Abbey character.

Well, Violet is really just an extension of Constance from Gosford Park. And my recollection is that their lines are from Julian Fellowes' Aunt's mouth.

Ann Althouse said...

One thing about this clip I love is that by the time it's over you will have the capacity to do a Dame Edith imitation. Maybe not a great one... but enough to make yourself and whoever else is around laugh.

Lydia said...

Alec Guinness wrote in one of his books that the best part about acting with Edith Evans was that she didn't get the joke. A sort of a British version of the Marx Brothers' Margaret Dumont.

Lydia said...

Barrie Humphries must also have had Dame Edith in mind when he created his Dame Edna Everage.

Hunter said...

My favorite Oscar Wilde quote is what he said upon seeing Niagara Falls.

"It would be more impressive if it flowed in the other direction"

Hunter said...
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