Tuesday, November 23, 2010

More on "Atmosphere"...

One of my recent blogs dealt with how atmosphere serves as an elemental aspect of artistic endeavor, citing authors and musicians as some examples.
In discussing the ways that the British authors P.D. James and Agatha Christie so skillfully employed atmosphere to enhance the story lines, I had neglected to mention the names of two British actresses who are forever connected to Christie's most famous character, Miss Jane Marple.
In the 1960's British filmmakers asked Dame Margaret Rutherford to appear as Miss Marple in about six movies for television.
Interestingly, Rutherford does not in the least portray, either physically or stylistically, the picture that Christie gives us in her novels; that is, a wispy, dovish, rather strait-laced schoolmarm -like little lady with a quiet demeanor and aura.
Rutherford was quite the opposite. She was a rather stout, short woman with a decided propensity toward comedic expressions, and quite curt and not exactly soft-spoken in her ways; however, her skill as an actress somehow created a kind of perverse but delightful representation that, though a rather decided opposite to Christie's incarnation, made the Rutherford version of Miss Marple a successful series, which consisted of several productions.
Conversely, an actress named Joan Hickson was exactly what Agatha Christie pictured Jane Marple to be, in her novels. Hickson was a wispy, dovish, rather strait-laced schoolmarm-like little lady with a quiet demeanor and aura. As a matter of fact, Agatha Christie herself once wrote Hickson, hoping that one day she would take the part of "my dear Miss Marple."
Which Hickson did indeed, in several really quite wonderful movies which were produced as the 20th century began to draw to a close, and became the standard, in movie form, of what Miss Marple was in the famous stories Christie gave to us.
Of course, why I have written all this was to remind you that both Rutherford and Hickson helped, in immeasurable ways, to produce the 'atmosphere' that saturate their performances.
By the way, Joan Hickson appeared as a cook/servant in one of the Rutherford productions many years before Hickson became Miss Marple herself!

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