Monday, 15 June 2015

MOVIE MONDAY - JEEVES & WOOSTER

“There’s no life without humour. It can make the wonderful moments of life truly glorious, and it can make tragic moments bearable.” - Rufus Wainwright

When cleaning my study the other day I found my old copy of PG Wodehouse’s “My Man Jeeves”, which is a collection of short stories, first published in the United Kingdom in May 1919. Of the eight stories in the collection, half feature the popular characters Jeeves and Bertie Wooster, while the others concern Reggie Pepper, an early prototype for Wooster. It was quite amusing now to think that the cleaning was forgotten as I sat leafing through the book and becoming absorbed in re-reading a story and chuckling to myself as the antics of Jeeves and Wooster unfolded in my mind once again…

Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse, KBE (15 October 1881 – 14 February 1975) was an English author, and one of the most widely-read humorists of the 20th century. He was born in Guildford, the son of a British magistrate based in Hong Kong. Wodehouse had happy teenage years at Dulwich College, to which he remained devoted all his life. After leaving school he was employed by a bank, but disliked the work and turned to writing in his spare time. His early novels were mostly school stories; he switched to writing comic fiction, creating several regular characters who became familiar to the public over the years. They include the feather-brained Bertie Wooster and his sagacious valet, Jeeves; the immaculate and loquacious Psmith; Lord Emsworth and the Blandings Castle set; the Oldest Member, with stories about golf; and Mr Mulliner, with tall tales on subjects ranging from bibulous bishops to megalomaniac movie moguls.

Which brings me to the subject of Movie Monday. It is the excellent dramatisation of the Jeeves stories in the 1990-1993 TV series “Jeeves and Wooster”. Starring Hugh Laurie as  Bertie Wooster, Stephen Fry as Jeeves,  Robert Daws as Tuppy, and  Mary Wimbush as Aunt Agatha, with a host of other excellent actors the TV series really brings to life Wodehouse’s characters and recreates wonderfully Edwardian times and mores. Fry and Laurie are perfect for their parts and carry the roles off with aplomb and marvellous humour.

The sets, costumes and locations have been rendered perfectly and one becomes absorbed in the times and customs depicted. The halls and manors that Bertie and Jeeves visit become familiar and as new characters are introduced. There are ever new sources of amusing situations, sticky predicaments and storms in teacups that brew and threaten to embroil Bertie into all sorts of trouble. Enter Jeeves, ever dependable, and all becomes calm once again.

The music is another plus and one hears hits of the 1920s as well as one of the most catchy themes, which while fairly repetitive adds to the charm and period atmosphere. Bertie playing the piano and singing actual songs of the period is fun and rounded off a wonderful soundtrack.

Reading Wodehouse’s books of course is the epitome of wit and humour, but the series does not disappoint and perhaps brings the characters and stories to some people who will never read the books. The episodes in the series are a mix of accurate rendition and loose interpretation of the original Wodehouse stories. Overall, a wonderful viewing experience that will have you chuckling and even belly laughing. Watch it!

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