Thursday 28 January 2016

The Brideshead Generation Evelyn Waugh and His Friends By Humphrey Carpenter

'[The Brideshead Generation] has both style and substance, and is above all an enjoyable companion. It has a wildly amusing cast, here controlled by a skilful director.' "Evening Standard"

'Jovial and entertaining, full of the sort of stories that your friends will tell you if you don't read it before them.' "Independent"

'Carpenter has read widely and has collected an enormous fund of entertaining stories and facts.' "Sunday Telegraph"

'Hauntingly sad and wonderfully funny and by far the best thing Humphrey Carpenter has done.' Fiona MacCarthy, "The Times"

 Review By William Tegner on July 6, 2003

This is an admirable book, well written, balanced and well researched. After a slightly hesitant start, the scene shifts to Oxford in the early twenties; it comes across as a very dissolute place, with distinct homosexual undertones. The noticeable "public school" backdrop leaves you wondering why anyone should send their child to an English boarding school (at very great expense, incidentally). But they did, and still do. However, at Oxford we are introduced to a veritable galaxy of talent, including Evelyn Waugh, the lead character in the book, Graham Greene, John Betjeman, Osbert Lancaster, Anthony Powell and others. There are some very amusing quotes and anecdotes.
But the book becomes increasingly serious, and whilst not specifically a work of literary criticism, it cites reviews and gives the background to the works of Waugh and to a lesser extent others. It also looks at the curious world of the Roman Catholic convert. At the end I felt a little sad for Waugh and some of his contemporaries. In spite of their achievements, by no means all of them seemed happy.

Books of The Times; When Wit Was All And Kindness Was Nil
Published: December 22, 1989

The Brideshead Generation Evelyn Waugh and His Friends By Humphrey Carpenter 523 pages. Illustrated. Houghton Mifflin. $27.95.

''She almost wished in this new mood of exaltation that she had come to the party in fancy dress. It was called a Savage party, that is to say that Johnnie Hoop had written on the invitation that they were to come dressed as savages. Numbers of them had done so; Johnnie himself in a mask and black gloves represented the Maharanee of Pukkapore, somewhat to the annoyance of the Maharajah, who happened to drop in. The real aristocracy, the younger members of those two or three great brewing families which rule London, had done nothing about it. They had come on from a dance and stood in a little group by themselves, aloof, amused but not amusing.''

Evelyn Waugh's wicked description of a party in ''Vile Bodies'' gleefully captures the inane posturing of the Bright Young Things who came of age in London during the 1920's, and at the same time it captures the brittle mood of Waugh's own Oxford generation: a sense of postwar futility gaudily disguised as frivolity; a yearning after the aristocratic values of a vanished, nondemocratic age; a willful determination to substitute hedonism and witty detachment for seriousness and introspection.

Though Humphrey Carpenter's new book, ''The Brideshead Generation,'' touches briefly upon the forces that shaped Waugh and his friends -namely, the convulsive aftereffects of World War I, and the emergence of a new bourgeois society - it makes little serious attempt to situate this group of writers within the continuum of English cultural history or to assess its overall achievement. The reader who is interested in the social impulses that led to the ascendency of Waugh's circle (a group that included Cyril Connolly, Graham Greene, John Betjeman, Anthony Powell, Nancy Mitford, Harold Acton and Brian Howard) would do better to examine Martin Green's ''Children of the Sun,'' an original and absorbing study that carefully examines the emergence of these writers vis-a-vis earlier and later literary groups personified by Kipling, Orwell and Auden.

As for ''The Brideshead Generation,'' the book pretty much limits itself to chronicling the careers of Waugh and some of his friends, drawing heavily upon these writers' fiction and autobiographical works, and such secondary sources as Christopher Syke's biography of Waugh.

Because these authors wrote so cleverly about themeselves, because their lives were so crammed with colorful anecdotes, ''The Brideshead Generation'' makes for fast, diverting reading. Though much of the material is just old literary gossip, Mr. Carpenter manages to do a fluent job of weaving this information in with pithy analyses of individual books and casual sketches of overlapping social worlds. The reader gets to see John Betjeman, the future poet laureate of England, carrying his teddy bear (like Sebastian in ''Brideshead Revisited'') around the Oxford campus; the young Graham Greene playing Russian roulette with a loaded revolver, and an aging Waugh taunting unwanted guests with his huge antique ear trumpet.

The snobbish, insular realms of Eton and Oxford are conjured up in a couple of brief chapters, and the reader is quickly immersed in the acutely class-conscious politics of student society. The esthetic choices made during these school days would later shape entire lives and careers, but many of those choices appear to have initially been made on completely arbitrary grounds.

According to Mr. Carpenter, the future art connoisseur Harold Acton became an ardent proponent of mid-Victorian style because his rival esthetes at Oxford had already put dibs on the period of the 1890's; the only other viable alternative - ''to become pure modern'' - was embraced by Auden's circle. Waugh, Mr. Carpenter suggests, similarly gravitated toward political conservatism as an expedient social measure. Though he and his public school pals had ''sometimes posed as 'Bolshevik,' '' writes Mr. Carpenter, Waugh realized, upon his arrival at Oxford, ''that if he were to join one of the left-wing groups at Oxford he would 'find the competition too hot.' ''

In a well-known passage in ''Enemies of Promise,'' Cyril Connolly posited the theory that the experiences he and his contemporaries had undergone as students were ''so intense as to dominate their lives and arrest their development. From these it results that the greater part of the ruling class remains adolescent, school-minded, self-conscious, cowardly, sentimental, and in the last analysis homosexual.''

Certainly the adolescent aspect applies quite pointedly to many of the writers in this volume. Though he outgrew his youthful fantasies of suicide, Greene has spent the better part of his life traveling the globe, looking for other ways of escape. With ''Enemies of Promise'' and ''The Unquiet Grave,'' Connolly became a specialist in the themes of futility and self-reproach. Brian Howard evaded his early literary promise by spending the better part of his life aimlessly wandering about Europe, before committing suicide in 1958.

Waugh, of course, went on to write a series of wonderfully comic novels - as well as the more elegiac ''Brideshead Revisited'' - but by middle age, he had sunk deep into an alcohol-soaked depression, his pose of defensive detachment calcifying into a ferocious misanthropy that alienated family and friends. He took a journalist to court for implying that his brother Alec's books had sold more than his own; and he complained that his own children were ''defective adults'' - ''feckless, destructive, frivolous, sensual, humourless.''

By the end of his life, he was constantly complaining that he was ''bored bored bored.'' It was a depressing and somehow fitting end to a life that increasingly revolved - like much of his social set's - around the snobbish distinctions of wealth and class, and a glittering but empty series of parties, drinking bouts and stupid jokes.

Tuesday 26 January 2016

The Print Room / Castletown House / VÍDEO below

 The Print Room/ Castletown House
The Print Room is one of the most important rooms at Castletown. It is the only fully intact eighteenth century print room left in Ireland. During Lady Louisa’s time it became popular for ladies to collect their favourite prints and then arrange and paste them on to the walls of a chosen room, along with decorative borders. At Castletown, Louisa, together with her sister Sarah, decorated this former ante room in 1768. She had been collecting prints since at least 1762, and the Print Room can be seen as a scrapbook of mid eighteenth century culture and taste. Included amongst the prints is Joshua Reynolds’ portrait of Louisa’s sister Sarah, sacrificing herself to the graces. Continuing the family theme the north wall features a print after Van Dyck of the children of Charles I, including the future Charles II, Louisa’s great grandfather. Contemporary popular culture is represented by two prints of the leading actor David Garrick; he is pictured between the muses of tragedy and comedy above the fireplace, and with the actress Sarah Cibber on the opposite wall. Amongst the artists featured are, Rembrandt, Guido Reni, Teniers and Le Bas.

Unusually this print room survived changes in taste and fashion, although the room seems to have been slightly rearranged in the mid 19th century. In the late nineteenth century this room was used as a billiards room but the present furnishings more accurately reflect its original purpose as a small or private sitting room.

 The English Print Room Phenomenon
Posted on 19 March 2010 by Kathryn Kane

The phenomenon of the English Print Room …

The original print rooms in great houses across the Continent were exactly what one might suppose them to be, rooms in which fine art prints were displayed. From the seventeenth century right though to the mid-nineteenth century, the print room was a feature of many homes of wealthy gentlemen who were connoisseurs of art. These print rooms were typically smaller in size than a gallery for the display of paintings, in keeping with the smaller size of most prints. The prints displayed in these rooms could be rare or unique, and were always of great value.

As had been done for centuries, the prints might be kept in cabinets or in shallow drawers in tables, should they be very fine or unusual prints. Alternately, they might be kept in albums, often leather bound, to protect them from the light. Each print was mounted on an album page of heavy paper and originally, parallel lines of ink or watercolor borders were made around the print on the paper. Often these parallel lines were filled in with a colored watercolor wash, giving the effect of a frame around the print. Or, the print might actually be framed on its page by a paper frame made especially for the purpose. By the latter decades of the eighteenth century, these paper frames had become very popular and were usually designed and produced by the same print-makers who were making the prints which they framed. Some print collectors would use a wide and varying range of frame styles for these paper frames, but others would settle on a single paper frame style designed solely for their use. Once such collector who had his own print frame design was the artist Thomas Lawrence, who had one of the finest print collections ever assembled.

In some cases, the prints were framed, sometimes under glass, and hung on the walls of the print room, skyed as paintings would have been, that is, the wall was carpeted with many prints in various sizes, hung in tiers from the cornice or crown molding to the dado or chair rail. In many cases in such print rooms, the walls were curtained, as were the walls of some painting galleries. These curtains would be kept closed over the prints, except when they were being viewed, in order to protect them from light damage.

Another version of the print room, which was found only in Britain, blended the techniques of album and wall display. The prints were mounted directly on the walls of the print room and were framed with the paper print frames typically used to frame prints in albums. They were arranged on the print room walls in skyed fashion, just as actual framed prints would have been. An example of this blended type of print room is the Print Room at Uppark in West Sussex. Prints displayed in this way were typically inexpensive and commonly available copies of popular paintings, rather than rare fine art prints. These prints might be hand-colored or, more often they were grisaille, in either shades of gray or sepia.

Print rooms of this type were more likely to be seen in the homes of those without the financial resources of affluent connoisseurs. Those with a taste for art without the wealth to afford original paintings often purchased the less expensive engravings of those works which they could display in their homes in the same way the aristocracy displayed their expensive paintings. For example, young Englishmen who took the Grand Tour on a budget would acquire prints and engravings as souvenirs, rather than paintings and sculpture. These engravings would then be displayed in the print rooms of their homes when they returned. Often, the decoration of these print rooms would be done by their wives, sisters or mothers.

By the mid-eighteenth century, many ladies, in all ranks of society, collected inexpensive prints, often on a specific theme, like animals, landscapes or mythological scenes. When they had gathered enough, they would paste their prints to the walls of a small sitting or dressing room. If they were impatient, they might decorate one wall of a room as soon as they had enough prints, doing each additional wall as they gathered more prints. Some young girls would begin collecting such prints in anticipation of decorating a small room in their home after they married. It was at about this time that many stationers, printers and some booksellers sold the paper frames, ribbon swags and other decorative paper embellishments which these ladies needed to enhance their personal print rooms.

This last type of print room was known only in Britain and occassionally in America. There are no instances of this method of print display in Europe. It also seems clear that these print rooms were seldom, if ever, decorated by professional decorators. Most of these print rooms were very personal spaces, most often decorated by the lady or ladies who used them, even in rather grand houses. There are a few instances of print rooms which were more public in nature, such as that at Uppark, but in most cases, even those were most often the product of the members of the household, usually female, who selected the prints, decided their arrangement and color scheme, and affixed the prints and their paper embellishments to the walls.

By the end of the eighteenth century, instead of pasting the prints directly on the walls of the room, it became the practice to paper the walls first with a plain paper of a single, usually pale, color. The print rooms in less affluent homes were papered with uncolored paper-hangings which were painted after they were affixed to the wall. In either case, once the paper was hung and dry, the prints would then be pasted to that, after which the paper frames, ribbon swags and other paper embellishments would be pasted to the walls to complete the design.

Paper-stainers, those who manufactured paper-hangings, soon got the idea of making paper-hangings which were essentially ready-made print rooms. These papers where covered with images of prints surrounded by paper frames and other embellishments on a solid color ground. Once hung, they were a good approximation of a print room with significantly less effort. These paper-hangings, like the earlier print rooms, were found only in Great Britain, and occasionally in America. There is some evidence that sets of print-room papers were exported to Europe, but not in high volume. These papers sold reasonably well in England, but they did not replace the real print room. Even into the Regency, there were too many ladies across the country who had their heart set on creating their own print room to be willing to settle for one ready-made of paper-hangings.

There are a few large houses that have print rooms which are still intact. One of these, the only one in Ireland, can still be seen at Castletown House in County Kildare, Ireland. This was the home of Lady Louisa Lennox Connolly, and her husband, Thomas Connolly. It is known that the prints for this room were being collected as early as 1762. This room has cream-colored walls covered with sepia-tone prints and embellishments which Lady Louisa and her friends cut out and applied to the walls. I had an opportunity to see this print room in person when I was living in Ireland years ago. Though the room is rather larger than the average print room, it is still a cozy, charming and essentially feminine room, as were the majority of print rooms created by the many English ladies who decorated their own personal print rooms from the mid-eighteenth century though the early nineteenth century.

Though the fashion for print rooms in England began in the mid-eighteenth century, it continued into the years of the Regency and there is no reason print rooms could not be woven into the plot of a Regency romance. Ladies might get together to help a friend prepare the prints and embellishments to be affixed to a print room wall, gossiping all the while. A young lady with a love of art might secretly plan her own small print room, carefully collecting prints with botanical designs or scenes from Aesop’s Fables, perhaps slipping out to the print shops from time to time to search for more prints for her collection. An impoverished widow might have to give up hope of her own print room and settle for a room papered with a set of inexpensive paper-hangings with a print-room design.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover, during the course of my research for this article, that the English print room has not faded into the mists of history. I found two different web sites which offer services for creating print rooms in the twenty-first century. I have no affiliation with either of these companies, but both of them have a number of good images of print rooms and offer services for those who are interested in having their own print rooms two hundred and fifty years after they were first fashionable. You can visit Holly Moore Interiors or The English Print Room, for more information.

 Castletown House, Celbridge, County Kildare, Ireland, is a Palladian country house built in 1722 for William Conolly, the Speaker of the Irish House of Commons.It formed the centrepiece of a 550-acre (220 ha) estate. Sold to developers in 1965, the estate is now divided between State and private ownership.

Monday 25 January 2016

Hitchcock/Truffaut Documentary / Book / Hitchcock/Truffaut Official Trailer 1 (2015) -

Hitchcock/Truffaut is a 
2015 French-American documentary film directed by Kent Jones about François Truffaut's book on Alfred Hitchcock, Hitchcock/Truffaut, and its impact on cinema.
Truffaut interviewed Hitchcock over eight days in 1962 at his offices at Universal Studios to write his book, and the documentary features reflections from directors including James Gray, Martin Scorsese, Paul Schrader, Wes Anderson, David Fincher, Arnaud Desplechin, and Olivier Assayas.
It was first screened at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival and was shown in the TIFF Docs section of the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival.

Directed by Kent Jones
Produced by Charles S. Cohen
Olivier Mille
Written by Kent Jones
Serge Toubiana
Based on Hitchcock/Truffaut
by François Truffaut
Starring Alfred Hitchcock
François Truffaut
Music by Jeremiah Bornfield
Cinematography Nick Bentgen
Daniel Cowen
Eric Gautier
Mihai Malaimare Jr.
Lisa Rinzler
Genta Tamaki
Edited by Rachel Reichman
Distributed by Cohen Media Group
Release dates
19 May 2015 (Cannes)
2 December 2015 (US)
Running time
79 minutes
Country France
United States
Language English

 Hitchcock/Truffaut is a 1966 book by François Truffaut about Alfred Hitchcock, originally released in French as Le Cinéma selon Alfred Hitchcock.
First published by Éditions Robert Laffont, it is based on a 1962 exchange between Hitchcock and Truffaut, in which the two directors spent a week in a room at Universal Studios talking about movies. After Hitchcock's death, Truffaut updated the book with a new preface and final chapter on Hitchcock's later films.

The book is the inspiration for the 2015 documentary, Hitchcock/Truffaut.
In Hitchcock, film critic François Truffaut presents fifty hours of interviews with Alfred Hitchcock about the whole of his vast directorial career, from his silent movies in Great Britain to his color films in Hollywood. The result is a portrait of one of the greatest directors the world has ever known, an all-round specialist who masterminded everything, from the screenplay and the photography to the editing and the soundtrack. Hitchcock discusses the inspiration behind his films and the art of creating fear and suspense, as well as giving strikingly honest assessments of his achievements and failures, his doubts and hopes. This peek into the brain of one of cinema’s greats is a must-read for all film aficionados.

Review: ‘Hitchcock/Truffaut’ Revisits the Master of Suspense
Hitchcock/Truffaut NYT Critics’ Pick

“Psycho” (1960) was the first film I saw in a movie theater, an experience that my 7-year-old self was ill-equipped to parse. Surrounded by jittery adults, I puzzled over everything, and not just the frantic screaming that mimicked Bernard Herrmann’s devilishly clever musical cues. Why, I wondered, was Janet Leigh wandering around in her bra in the middle of the afternoon?

That juxtaposing of sex and terror was as essential to Alfred Hitchcock’s cinematic style as his meticulous deployment of icy blond actresses. Disappointingly, Kent Jones’s documentary “Hitchcock/Truffaut” — though not nearly as dry as its title — barely tickles Hitchcock’s fascinating fetishes. Despite a promising nod to the brilliant perversions of “Marnie” and “Vertigo” (which few can deny is one terrifically sick movie), Mr. Jones remains rigidly focused on hammering home the director François Truffaut’s motivation for writing the 1966 book on which this film is based: To lead Hitchcock, then widely considered a mere commercial entertainer, out of the shoals of populism and into the cineaste spotlight. Truffaut knew that hindsight was better than no sight at all.

Just as a snooty reader might be enticed to the novels of Stephen King by a thumbs-up from The New York Review of Books, movie buffs were likely to view Truffaut’s enthusiasm for Hitchcock as a sufficient entree to their discerning fold. But the book, an engrossing record of Truffaut’s dayslong interview with his idol in 1962, did more than just reposition its subject’s reputation. It also provided riveting insight into the art and craft of moviemaking, revealing Hitchcock’s mastery of time and space and his unwavering preference, honed by his period of making silent movies, for image over dialogue.

Curating a selection of the original interview recordings (whose sound quality is damn near pristine), Mr. Jones fashions an unfaltering encomium that’s entirely free of the highfalutin monologues that might deter noncinephiles. Bob Balaban’s intermittent narration is soft and unintrusive, and a chorus of lauded directors, mostly American and all male (I can’t help thinking that a woman might have dug deeper into the significant contributions of Hitchcock’s wife and collaborator, Alma Reville), chime in with acuity and ardor.

What they don’t do is show how their own movies might have been influenced by Hitchcock’s technique, which Mr. Jones lovingly illustrates in dissections of a few of the master’s most memorable scenes. Though merely a tasting menu, these moments add jolts of pulpy fun and allow their creator to speak for himself. The man who embraced many of the characteristics that movie snobs love to denigrate — his genre; his prolific output (at the time of the interview, he was just completing his 48th film); the constraints of the studio system — is finally his own best argument for the happy coexistence of art and entertainment.

“Hitchcock/Truffaut” is rated PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned). Have you seen ‘Psycho’? Running time: 1 hour 20 minutes.

Sunday 24 January 2016

The incorrigible latin lover. / Fernando Lamas / VÍDEO: How Did Fernando Lamas Feel About Billy Crystal's Impression of Him? - W...

"When a person has an accent, it means they can speak one more language than you"  

The incorrigible latin lover.
After Porfirio Rubirosa , “Tweedland” presents Fernando Lamas.

"Sometimes other men said that he was gay, and nothing pleased him more than proving them wrong with their own wives.”

Born Fernando Álvaro Lamas y de Santos in Buenos Aires, Argentina, by 1942, he was an established movie star in his native country. His first film made in the United States was The Avengers in 1950. In 1951, he signed a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and went on to play "Latin Lover" roles.

In 1951, he starred as Paul Sarnac in the musical, Rich, Young and Pretty and as Juan Dinas in the comedy, The Law and the Lady. Throughout the 1950s, Lamas had leading roles in a number of MGM musicals, including Dangerous When Wet with his future wife Esther Williams. After the beginning of the 1960s, he turned to TV series; mostly appearing in guest roles. From 1965 to 1968, Lamas had a regular role as Ramon De Vega on Run For Your Life, which starred Ben Gazzara.

Lamas directed for the first time in 1963. It was a movie titled Magic Fountain starring his future wife Esther Williams. He directed another feature film, The Violent Ones, which was released in 1967 and co-starred Aldo Ray and David Carradine. He was most active directing on television, doing episodes that included Mannix, Alias Smith and Jones, Starsky and Hutch and Falcon Crest. The latter show co-starred his son, Lorenzo.

Lamas was married four times. His first marriage was to Argentine actress Perla Mux in 1940 and they had a daughter, Christina before divorcing in 1944.

His second marriage was in 1946 to Lydia Barachi. Fernando and Lydia also had a daughter, Alexandra. They were later divorced in 1952.

His third wife was the American actress Arlene Dahl. They were married in 1954. They were later divorced in 1960. Out of this marriage was born a son, Lorenzo Lamas (born January 20, 1958).

His longest marriage was to the well known swimmer and actress Esther Williams in 1969, and they remained married until Fernando's death in 1982.

Fernando Lamas died of pancreatic cancer in Los Angeles, California at the age of 67. His ashes were scattered by close friend Jonathan Goldsmith from his sailboat.

After his death, Lamas's archetypal playboy image lived on in popular culture via the "Fernando" character developed by Billy Crystal on Saturday Night Live in the mid-1980s. The character was outlandish and exaggerated but reportedly inspired by a remark Crystal heard Lamas utter on The Tonight Show; "It is better to look good than to feel good." This was one of the Fernando character's two catchphrases along with the better-remembered "You look marvelous!" (usually spelled "mahvelous" in this context).

His friend, actor Jonathan Goldsmith, took inspiration from Lamas for the character The Most Interesting Man in the World.