Thursday, January 7, 2016

MOVIE WEEKEND: GOSFORD PARK

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

During the late '90s, actor/producer Bob Balaban proposed to auteur Robert Altman that they make a whodunit about a murder during a 1930s weekend party at an English country house. The twist was that the audience would know who was guilty, and the events that unfolded would be seen through the eyes of the servants.

Bob Balaban had done some work with a chubby, balding, not-very-successful actor named Julian Fellowes, who had an encyclopedic knowledge of English country houses. Balaban recommended to Altman that Julian Fellowes write the screenplay for their movie. Fellowes soon had seventy-five pages of the script, which Altman and Balaban loved. Thus began the career of a great writer, and the creation of a great movie.

The result is Gosford Park (2001, Rated R, Available on DVD and Amazon Prime Streaming).


Gosford Park has an ensemble cast that includes Maggie Smith, Ryan Philippe, Helen Mirren, Eileen Atkins, Michael Gambon, Derek Jacoby, and Stephen Fry. Every actor is excellent; every character is well drawn.

One needn't be a fan of Downton Abbey to enjoy Gosford Park, but when I watched Gosford Park recently--many years after my first viewing--I noticed a number of Fellowes' trademarks that made their way to Downton, such as an intricate plot; difficult relationships between many of the characters; and outstanding dialog that is sometimes sarcastic, sometimes earnest, and always a revelation.

Gosford Park received Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actress (Maggie Smith), Best Supporting Actress (Helen Mirren), Best Original Screenplay, and two other categories.

Julian Fellowes ended up the only nominee to take home sweet, golden Oscar. However, the movie and its cast received many other nominations and awards, including The Screen Actors Guild award for the Outstanding Cast in a motion picture.

I insisted that Willy Dunne Wooters watch Gosford Park with me so he could see the precursor to his beloved Downton Abbey (I'm re-watching it with him; we're in the middle of season four [don't tell him I watch the current season without him]). I noticed quite a bit of sighing and fidgeting as we viewed Gosford. I think it was a little slow moving for him, but he asked me some questions afterwards.

I suspect that Willy Dunne Wooters would present Gosford Park with his seal of I'll put up with this so I get laid later but I'd rather watch Downton Abbey, while I present Gosford Park with the Janie Junebug Seal of Highest Approval.

We watched Gosford Park on a DVD that Netflix delivered to my mailbox; however, the movie is now available on Amazon Prime, free for Prime members on their streaming service. If you get the DVD, I suggest you watch some of the bonus features about making the movie. They are quite interesting.

Happy Viewing!


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug


16 comments:

  1. Hi Janie - I'm afraid I didn't see that either! One day I expect I will .. but am glad WDW is taking an interest .. cheers Hilary

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    1. I think you'd like Gosford Park. It's quite a lavish production.

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  2. We watched the first of the new season of Downton Abby and the preliminary review as well, and were very pleased. I will hate to see it end.

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    1. That's the problem with good shows: They end!

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  3. Hi, Janie,

    HAPPY NEW YEAR!

    Sounds like a wonderful movie.... WHAT A CAST! I watch it just for them... Thanks for sharing.

    Hoping you have a splendiferous year!

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    1. What a sweet comment. Thank you. Penelope is on the floor near me with her snowman toy. God is in His heaven and all's right with the world.

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  4. We'll give it a watch Girlfren. Stay warm.
    R

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    1. I hope you enjoy it. I love intricate plots and nasty people who are murdered in English country houses.

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  5. We'll give it a watch Girlfren. Stay warm.
    R

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  6. I haven't seen that one. Maybe have to pop it up to the top of my Netflix queue after Downton is over and I am going through withdrawal--LOL! ;) Glad WDW is enjoying Downton. I bet it is just as good the second time around. I have watched the previous seasons again before a new season because they replay them here and I get sucked right in again...even when I know what is coming. ;)

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    1. I think you'll like it. I liked Gosford Park long before Downton Abbey began, and I didn't know who Julian Fellowes was. My son liked Gosford Park so much that he bought the DVD. I love watching Downton again. I find it's much funnier the second time around. I always knew the Dowager Countess was funny, but now she's even funnier. Other characters, such as Carson, are funnier now, too.

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  7. I've never seen Gosford Park. For some reason I've never been particularly drawn to these sorts of films, though whenever I watch something of this nature I usually enjoy it.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

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    1. I know what you mean. Sometimes I think I don't like a particular genre or something, but then I give in to it and love it.

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  8. Gosford Park does look interesting. I haven't seen it. Right now I'm sucked into Orange is the New Black, on DVD from the library.

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    1. Willy Dunne Wooters and I adore OITNB.

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