Brideshead Revisited, Vintage Movies and Catholicism

Open, general discussion of classic sound-era films, personalities and history.
  • Author
  • Message
Offline
User avatar

Penfold

  • Posts: 1275
  • Joined: Mon May 26, 2008 2:03 pm
  • Location: Bwistol, England.

Re: Brideshead Revisited, Vintage Movies and Catholicism

PostTue Feb 19, 2013 5:19 pm

alistairw wrote:
Downton Abbey's viewing figures are bolstered by a lot of viewers who hoover up a nightly dose of Eastenders and Coronation Street which, please to god, tell me you are not subjected to in the US.



Oh hang on.......Corrie is trite nonsense now BUT for the first ten years of its existence it was groundbreaking TV drama, unheralded in its naturalism and grit; the TV series that rode the kitchen-sink film genre of the early 60's but at times was better written and acted than the better-appreciated Saturday Nights, Room At The Top, L-Shaped room etc.....if you've only seen it in the last twenty years then the first ten will blow you away.
As for Catholicism in film, then follow Fred's lead, the films based on Graham Greene's novel deal with Catholicism as a subtext almost as a given.....be it Brighton Rock, The Third Man, The Fallen Idol......
I could use some digital restoration myself...
Offline

alistairw

  • Posts: 134
  • Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2013 1:23 pm

Re: Brideshead Revisited, Vintage Movies and Catholicism

PostTue Feb 19, 2013 5:34 pm

Penfold you could make the same point about the early years of Eastenders. These shows have a natural period of social relevance (e.g. the way it treated AIDS in the 80s) but then inevitably descend into garbage where the characters basically just shout at each other.

On the whole Greene's novels are probably more consistently concerned at some level with catholicism and always introduce at least some degree of sympathy with it. Waugh is more cynical both with faith and people in general (e.g. A Handful of Dust) and in Brideshead the message is stark - inherited guilt leads to retreat either into the relative respect of a nunnery or to a suit of rags in some Moroccan ghetto.
Offline
User avatar

Mike Gebert

Site Admin

  • Posts: 3981
  • Joined: Sat Dec 15, 2007 3:23 pm
  • Location: Chicago

Re: Brideshead Revisited, Vintage Movies and Catholicism

PostTue Feb 19, 2013 6:54 pm

I've been reading Waugh's Sword of Honour trilogy and it seems to me that the way they dramatize Catholicism would be essentially unfilmable-- the moments when faith and doctrine run into life seem too interior to be filmable on screen, and perhaps too Catholic to even make sense to someone who doesn't have at least a little Catholic school behind them.

Only the French, and Bunuel, seem capable of filming a believable Catholic outlook and story. My list of great Catholic films would pretty much begin and end with Diary of a Country Priest, A Man Escapes, El and Nazarin, and Rivette's La Religeuse.

And The Awful Truth.
If you truly love film, I think the healthiest thing to do is not read books on the subject. I prefer the glossy film magazines with their big colour photos and gossip columns, or the National Enquirer. Such vulgarity is healthy and safe. —Werner Herzog
Offline
User avatar

Arndt

  • Posts: 903
  • Joined: Thu Feb 07, 2008 1:02 pm
  • Location: Germany

Re: Brideshead Revisited, Vintage Movies and Catholicism

PostTue Feb 19, 2013 11:44 pm

entredeuxguerres wrote:
drednm wrote:How about Going My Way?


Or Father Flannigan.


Or THE SOUND OF MUSIC?
MELIOR
Offline

Jim Gettys

  • Posts: 142
  • Joined: Fri Feb 29, 2008 11:02 pm
  • Location: Michigan

Re: Brideshead Revisited, Vintage Movies and Catholicism

PostWed Feb 20, 2013 12:38 am

The Cardinal (1963)

The Shoes of the Fisherman (1968)

Jim Gettys
Offline

alistairw

  • Posts: 134
  • Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2013 1:23 pm

Re: Brideshead Revisited, Vintage Movies and Catholicism

PostWed Feb 20, 2013 6:54 am

Mike, The Awful Truth? Please expand, I'm too dim to get that.
Offline
User avatar

Mike Gebert

Site Admin

  • Posts: 3981
  • Joined: Sat Dec 15, 2007 3:23 pm
  • Location: Chicago

Re: Brideshead Revisited, Vintage Movies and Catholicism

PostWed Feb 20, 2013 10:20 am

Follow the link (click on the title), it explains all.
If you truly love film, I think the healthiest thing to do is not read books on the subject. I prefer the glossy film magazines with their big colour photos and gossip columns, or the National Enquirer. Such vulgarity is healthy and safe. —Werner Herzog
Offline
User avatar

Frederica

  • Posts: 3924
  • Joined: Wed Dec 19, 2007 1:00 pm
  • Location: Kowea Town, Los Angeles

Re: Brideshead Revisited, Vintage Movies and Catholicism

PostWed Feb 20, 2013 10:27 am

alistairw wrote:edg's comment that catholicism is usually portrayed in a favourable light in films surprised me since I've always had the impression that it is regarded as slightly left handed in the U.S. Maybe we just get to see the more extreme stuff in modern movies and shows.


It is (and was) among the more fundamentalist of the Protestant groups. In re: films, the Production Code was enforced for many years here, which prevented deliberate offense to religion of any flavor; I think the crises of the faith dealt with in Brideshead or in Greene's work would have made censors uncomfortable, especially if the person suffering the crisis left the fold. Films that deal with Catholicism at all tend to be sugary, with lots of stage Irish accents and miraculous beams of holy light, if you get my drift.

I don't think you'll find anything in the U.S. similar to Brideshead. Actually, you probably won't find anything in the UK, outside that particular time and space, that is similar to Brideshead. Waugh and Greene were very much of their time and place, and both of the same generation, education, class, and economic status (although they weren't similar in personality, not at all), and both were high profile RC converts in an overwhelmingly C of E milieu. They stuck out like sore thumbs, which I do not think would be the case now...or would it?
Fred
"She jerked away from me like a startled fawn might, if I had a startled fawn and it jerked away from me."
Raymond Chandler, The Little Sister
http://www.nitanaldi.com
http://www.facebook.com/NitaNaldiSilentVamp
Offline
User avatar

drednm

  • Posts: 4273
  • Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2009 9:41 pm
  • Location: Belgrade Lakes, ME

Re: Brideshead Revisited, Vintage Movies and Catholicism

PostWed Feb 20, 2013 10:33 am

CS Lewis' Narnia stories are about Catholicism.....
Ed Lorusso
Writer/Historian
--------------------
"You're only as good as your last picture." Marie Dressler
Letters from Oblivion http://www.lulu.com/shop/edward-lorusso ... 57852.html
Offline
User avatar

entredeuxguerres

  • Posts: 2433
  • Joined: Sat Feb 11, 2012 12:46 pm
  • Location: Empire State

Re: Brideshead Revisited, Vintage Movies and Catholicism

PostWed Feb 20, 2013 11:09 am

drednm wrote:CS Lewis' Narnia stories are about Catholicism.....


So, I've read, at some level far too deep for my limited faculties to penetrate, were those of Tolkien.

Wasn't Lewis, like Tom Eliot, actually Anglican...or Anglo-Catholic, as I've heard it called? For overt Christian allegory in modern literature, I'd guess Eliot unequalled; unequalled in power, at any rate.
Offline
User avatar

Frederica

  • Posts: 3924
  • Joined: Wed Dec 19, 2007 1:00 pm
  • Location: Kowea Town, Los Angeles

Re: Brideshead Revisited, Vintage Movies and Catholicism

PostWed Feb 20, 2013 11:21 am

drednm wrote:CS Lewis' Narnia stories are about Catholicism.....


C of E, i.e. orthodox but not Roman.
Fred
"She jerked away from me like a startled fawn might, if I had a startled fawn and it jerked away from me."
Raymond Chandler, The Little Sister
http://www.nitanaldi.com
http://www.facebook.com/NitaNaldiSilentVamp
Offline
User avatar

Arndt

  • Posts: 903
  • Joined: Thu Feb 07, 2008 1:02 pm
  • Location: Germany

Re: Brideshead Revisited, Vintage Movies and Catholicism

PostWed Feb 20, 2013 12:54 pm

entredeuxguerres wrote:So, I've read, at some level far too deep for my limited faculties to penetrate, were those of Tolkien.


I did not get that at first but re-reading the books for the release of the films it struck me how Frodo's suffering closely resembles that of a Christian martyr. It has to be the most innocent guy in all of Middle Earth who carries the most evil object - basically the weight of the world - to the most terrible place. He wins through because of his faith but is forever contaminated and can only find solace by leaving this (Middle) Earth for a better place.
It is the emphasis, the dwelling on the suffering that makes the whole thing Catholic in my view.
MELIOR
Offline
User avatar

George O'Brien

  • Posts: 334
  • Joined: Mon Feb 04, 2008 8:10 pm
  • Location: An Atoll in the Pacific

Re: Brideshead Revisited, Vintage Movies and Catholicism

PostWed Feb 20, 2013 12:58 pm

Alfred Hitchcock was that rara avis, a born Catholic Englishman.

You'd be hard pressed to find a mainstream US film more Catholic than his 1953, I CONFESS.
"This bar of likker is now a bar of justice!"
Offline
User avatar

drednm

  • Posts: 4273
  • Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2009 9:41 pm
  • Location: Belgrade Lakes, ME

Re: Brideshead Revisited, Vintage Movies and Catholicism

PostWed Feb 20, 2013 1:04 pm

Well I never understood the difference between Catholic and Roman Catholic. Not that I ever tried very hard to differentiate the two (or one). But as I remember my Maine childhood in he 1950s, there seemed to be a difference.

Religion was not the core topic of my doctoral work but it was there slapping me in the face in any event. Religious symbolism abounds in Lewis, Tolkien, Eliot, Pound, Yeats, etc. It's not always Catholic but it often doesn't matter as it is Christian-based.

I much preferred the largely unreligious bent of the 20s expatriates.
Ed Lorusso
Writer/Historian
--------------------
"You're only as good as your last picture." Marie Dressler
Letters from Oblivion http://www.lulu.com/shop/edward-lorusso ... 57852.html
Offline

alistairw

  • Posts: 134
  • Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2013 1:23 pm

Re: Brideshead Revisited, Vintage Movies and Catholicism

PostWed Feb 20, 2013 1:21 pm

Mike, you may be right on The Awful Truth but I prefer to think they just realised that they still fancied each other. Occam's razor - keep things simple.
I suppose any real criticism of catholicism in a pre-code movie would have incurred the personal wrath of Joseph Breen or was he out of the pictute by then?
With respect to Greene and Waugh I think the one essential difference between them lies in their experience as undergraduates. Both, as children of relatively undistinguished middle class (in the British sense) families, went up to Oxford in the 1920s a place which, to use Arnold Bennet's words, reeked of privilege" (as it still does of course). However, while Greene was often ill and not particularly sociable Waugh "had ideas above his station" (I can just hear all you U.S. Nvilleians grinding your teeth) but was not always successful. As a result he seems to have developed a real vitriol for (although he could never totally dispel his attraction towards) the traditional, conservative pillions of the British Establishment of which High Anglicanism and the complacent nobility were but two obvious examples. Consequently, in some Waugh novels it is difficult to determine exactly who or what he is railing against.
By the way Frederica did you make that quote from Chaucer up or did he actually write that?
Offline
User avatar

drednm

  • Posts: 4273
  • Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2009 9:41 pm
  • Location: Belgrade Lakes, ME

Re: Brideshead Revisited, Vintage Movies and Catholicism

PostWed Feb 20, 2013 1:37 pm

I don't think Oxford reeks of privilege now as it did before WW II. Even I did graduate work there in the 80s!
Ed Lorusso
Writer/Historian
--------------------
"You're only as good as your last picture." Marie Dressler
Letters from Oblivion http://www.lulu.com/shop/edward-lorusso ... 57852.html
Offline
User avatar

entredeuxguerres

  • Posts: 2433
  • Joined: Sat Feb 11, 2012 12:46 pm
  • Location: Empire State

Re: Brideshead Revisited, Vintage Movies and Catholicism

PostWed Feb 20, 2013 1:40 pm

drednm wrote:Well I never understood the difference between Catholic and Roman Catholic.


Along with their independance from the authority of the Bishop of Rome, Anglican priests are allowed (officially, that is) to indulge in the lusts of the flesh...the bequest of Henry VIII.
Offline
User avatar

drednm

  • Posts: 4273
  • Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2009 9:41 pm
  • Location: Belgrade Lakes, ME

Re: Brideshead Revisited, Vintage Movies and Catholicism

PostWed Feb 20, 2013 2:00 pm

Anglican is Catholic? Hmmmm
Ed Lorusso
Writer/Historian
--------------------
"You're only as good as your last picture." Marie Dressler
Letters from Oblivion http://www.lulu.com/shop/edward-lorusso ... 57852.html
Offline

Michael O'Regan

  • Posts: 1895
  • Joined: Thu Feb 12, 2009 4:52 pm
  • Location: UK

Re: Brideshead Revisited, Vintage Movies and Catholicism

PostWed Feb 20, 2013 2:10 pm

drednm wrote:Anglican is Catholic? Hmmmm

Hmmmmm....not to my knowledge!!
Offline

alistairw

  • Posts: 134
  • Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2013 1:23 pm

Re: Brideshead Revisited, Vintage Movies and Catholicism

PostWed Feb 20, 2013 3:30 pm

In practice High Anglicanism in its processes has far more in common with the Roman Church than it does with true Protestantism.

Drednm I'm glad to hear that your own experience of Oxford was an egalitarian one. I believe it has even let most of the Clinton clan in. But in a domestic, undergraduate context if you want to be a Tory prime minister and your name isn't Maggie Thatcher then Oxford still seems to be de rigeur. By contrast, stemming from the days of the Civil War (our one) when it supported the Parliamentarians Cambridge, thank goodness, has always been a more liberal institution.
Offline
User avatar

Harold Aherne

  • Posts: 1430
  • Joined: Tue Dec 18, 2007 1:08 pm
  • Location: North Dakota

Re: Brideshead Revisited, Vintage Movies and Catholicism

PostWed Feb 20, 2013 5:10 pm

Some Anglicans do self-identify as "Anglo-Catholics", meaning that they adhere to High Church traditions rather than the more "reformed" approach of Low Church Anglicans. Since they are not in communion with the Pope, however, they are not RC. While the "Roman" term might not be strictly necessary, it can be useful when fine distinctions need to be made between the Church under the Bishop of Rome (the RCC) and other Christian groups that use the term "Catholic" without being in communion with the Pope (the Old Catholic Church, the Polish National Catholic Church &c.).

Along with their independance from the authority of the Bishop of Rome, Anglican priests are allowed (officially, that is) to indulge in the lusts of the flesh...the bequest of Henry VIII.


Priestly celibacy is considered a matter of "discipline" rather than unchangeable doctrine, so the RCC can ordain married men to the priesthood (and in recent decades, has). Optional celibacy has also long been the norm in Eastern Catholic churches (in communion with Rome but using the Byzantine, Armenian, Alexandrian, Antiochian or Syrian rites instead of the Roman Rite).

I suppose any real criticism of catholicism in a pre-code movie would have incurred the personal wrath of Joseph Breen or was he out of the pictute by then?


Breen wasn't strongly in the picture until early to mid-1934, but a movie that critiqued Catholicism even before then would destroy a lot of potential good will between the studio making it and the Catholic laity (around 20-23% of the US population), to say nothing of the hierarchy. The result would have been a boycott, and precisely when the studios were recovering economically and couldn't afford one--indeed, that's part of why the Legion of Decency was able to become powerful in the first place.

-HA
Offline
User avatar

entredeuxguerres

  • Posts: 2433
  • Joined: Sat Feb 11, 2012 12:46 pm
  • Location: Empire State

Re: Brideshead Revisited, Vintage Movies and Catholicism

PostWed Feb 20, 2013 6:04 pm

alistairw wrote: I believe it has even let most of the Clinton clan in.


What next--mail-order degrees?
Offline
User avatar

Frederica

  • Posts: 3924
  • Joined: Wed Dec 19, 2007 1:00 pm
  • Location: Kowea Town, Los Angeles

Re: Brideshead Revisited, Vintage Movies and Catholicism

PostWed Feb 20, 2013 6:56 pm

alistairw wrote:
With respect to Greene and Waugh I think the one essential difference between them lies in their experience as undergraduates. Both, as children of relatively undistinguished middle class (in the British sense) families, went up to Oxford in the 1920s a place which, to use Arnold Bennet's words, reeked of privilege" (as it still does of course). However, while Greene was often ill and not particularly sociable Waugh "had ideas above his station" (I can just hear all you U.S. Nvilleians grinding your teeth) but was not always successful. As a result he seems to have developed a real vitriol for (although he could never totally dispel his attraction towards) the traditional, conservative pillions of the British Establishment of which High Anglicanism and the complacent nobility were but two obvious examples. Consequently, in some Waugh novels it is difficult to determine exactly who or what he is railing against.


That's a good way to put it. Me, I just go with "he was an insufferable snob."

By the way Frederica did you make that quote from Chaucer up or did he actually write that?


That was from Geoff's Facebook page. KIDDING!! http://houseoffame.blogspot.com/" target="_blank
Fred
"She jerked away from me like a startled fawn might, if I had a startled fawn and it jerked away from me."
Raymond Chandler, The Little Sister
http://www.nitanaldi.com
http://www.facebook.com/NitaNaldiSilentVamp
Offline

alistairw

  • Posts: 134
  • Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2013 1:23 pm

Re: Brideshead Revisited, Vintage Movies and Catholicism

PostThu Feb 21, 2013 12:32 am

What an absolutely bizarre website....funny strange and funny ha-ha both at the same time!
Offline
User avatar

Tilt Araiza

  • Posts: 20
  • Joined: Tue Jul 06, 2010 12:28 pm

Re: Brideshead Revisited, Vintage Movies and Catholicism

PostSat Feb 23, 2013 12:24 am

Could I just add a little note here and point out that Brideshead Revisited and Downton Abbey aren't BBC productions. It might seem like a cheese-paring point, but it does raise a few issues. Brideshead was made by Granada Television for the ITV network, so is the product of a better-budgeted, commercially-minded company (companies like Granada have a higher survival rate of 1960s shows than the BBC because they could afford to keep them and were more geared to exploiting them). It's also interesting because Granada originally had a something of a socialist, "TV as people's theatre" ethos (this was the company that made Coronation Street). It wasn't exclusively so, they mounted a Noël Coward season in the 60s, but it's interesting to compare something like Brideshead with Granada's dour, Northern English image.

Well, I thought it was interesting anyway.
Offline

alistairw

  • Posts: 134
  • Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2013 1:23 pm

Re: Brideshead Revisited, Vintage Movies and Catholicism

PostSat Feb 23, 2013 1:58 pm

It is indeed inconceivable that one of today's ITV networks would attempt something as ambitious as Brideshead. Historical soap opera such as Downton and Mr Selfridge are the limit.

It is a misconception however that Brideshead was the product of a commercial company routinely flexing its economic muscles. In the early 1980s the budget of the BBC for serious drama dwarfed anything that the ITV companies could offer. Brideshead was, rather, an example of a strategy, similar to that employed by Universal in the 1920s, whereby a quality series would effectively be subsidised by the more popular part of the slate. Granada, at that time, routinely made one per season. A couple of years later its flagship series was Jewel in the Crown which had better ratings, received higher critical acclaim and enjoyed a considerably bigger budget than did Brideshead.
Offline
User avatar

Tilt Araiza

  • Posts: 20
  • Joined: Tue Jul 06, 2010 12:28 pm

Re: Brideshead Revisited, Vintage Movies and Catholicism

PostSat Feb 23, 2013 5:36 pm

alistairw wrote:an example of a strategy, similar to that employed by Universal in the 1920s


That's a great comparison. I still think that an ITV franchise holder, in many cases being part of a larger business empire and not having to fill its schedules all by itself like the BBC, would be more likely to throw money at a good prospect than the BBC could. I've been ploughing through period dramas from the 70s and 80s over the last couple of years and the values of the BBC shows seem to slip more frequently than the ITV equivalents.
Offline

alistairw

  • Posts: 134
  • Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2013 1:23 pm

Re: Brideshead Revisited, Vintage Movies and Catholicism

PostSat Feb 23, 2013 6:23 pm

We do, however, need to be a little careful in the terms we use when looking at the schedules of yesteryear. I clearly recall how, in 1981, ITV audiences, having had their weekly fix of Bullseye, used to groan at the prospect of another episode of "those toffs" in Brideshead. Jewel in the Crown was really the first prestige ITV series which became a weekly "event" in homes up and down the land.
Offline
User avatar

entredeuxguerres

  • Posts: 2433
  • Joined: Sat Feb 11, 2012 12:46 pm
  • Location: Empire State

Re: Brideshead Revisited, Vintage Movies and Catholicism

PostSat Feb 23, 2013 7:50 pm

alistairw wrote: A couple of years later its flagship series was Jewel in the Crown which had better ratings, received higher critical acclaim and enjoyed a considerably bigger budget than did Brideshead.


Considering the color & pagentry of Jewel (which I liked well enough to watch twice), & its freedom from inscrutable moral ambiguities, the higher ratings are predictable, but the "higher critical acclaim" makes my jaw drop.
Offline
User avatar

entredeuxguerres

  • Posts: 2433
  • Joined: Sat Feb 11, 2012 12:46 pm
  • Location: Empire State

Re: Brideshead Revisited, Vintage Movies and Catholicism

PostSat Feb 23, 2013 7:59 pm

alistairw wrote:I clearly recall how, in 1981, ITV audiences, having had their weekly fix of Bullseye, used to groan at the prospect of another episode of "those toffs" in Brideshead.


These culture vultures no doubt held their breaths each week waiting for the next episode of Kenneth Clark's Civilization.
PreviousNext

Return to Talking About Talkies

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 2 guests