Just finished listening to Michael Kitchen’s outstanding narration of Shylock Is My Name. Now referring back to the source material for Howard Jacobson’s novel by viewing Shakespeare Uncovered and Trevor Nunn’s National Theatre production of The Merchant of Venice with future Foyle’s War guest stars, Henry Goodman, in an Olivier Award winning performance as Shylock, and Mark Umbers as Solanio. (Since we were denied the scenes showing Foyle catching up with Howard Paige, watching the destruction of Goodman’s Shylock could be the next best thing, although unlike Shylock, Paige wouldn’t be deserving of any sympathy.)
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National Coq Au Vin Day
Replying to a Data Lounge query on cozy British murder mysteries, one forum member wrote:
…an interesting lesson on writing and showrunning. Foyle’s War should work outside of the premise. Michael Kitchen and Honeysuckle Weeks are both good actors and their characters were interesting. Yet once WW2 was taken out of the equation, the story wasn’t interesting anymore. I think part of it was that having Weeks’ character marry put a wedge in the boss/employee relationship and the show just fell to pieces after that. Thank goodness they always kept the relationship as father/daughter. If they had Weeks have romantic feelings for Foyle, it would have ruined the entire show including the episodes already broadcast.
A time when murder investigations rarely involved a multitude of bullets (and victims) at the crime scene.
Legend has it that tea was discovered when tree leaves blew into the cup of just boiled water that the Chinese emperor, Shennong, was drinking — about as serendipitous as Foyle knocking over a bag of tea into a basin of water!
Clever use of tea to service the plot with the added bonus of Foyle shown in a moment of carelessness. Nothing careless, though, about Michael Kitchen’s smooth, articulate motions throughout this scene.
Decency: 49.9% Evil: 48.4% Trump and GOP humiliation: 100%
Is it too much to ask that the POTUS possess none of the disturbing character traits exhibited in these Michael Kitchen portrayals…
and more of the qualities found in Michael Faraday and Christopher Foyle?
From the blog, a little leaway:
I’ve been watching Foyle’s War, a British TV show which stars Michael Kitchen. …he’s a middle-aged man, balding on top, and while nice-looking, fairly unremarkable. He’s definitely no hairy-chested man of action. Whenever there’s a scuffle he generally hops nimbly out of the way. But here’s the thing. His character is so appealing – laconic, sharp, polite, calm, yet very sensitive to others and clearly of the still-waters-run-deep type – that by the end of Season 1 I was finding him very attractive indeed. So it wasn’t necessary to use a stunningly handsome actor – the character is attractive in personality, which affects how he’s perceived physically. In real life this totally applies; it’s interesting to see it happen in film. Mind you, British TV and movies don’t seem to rely on the looks of its actors as much as American ones do.
Much truth to this, but I don’t know that any actor other than Michael Kitchen could have so inhabited the role of Foyle and conveyed the character’s many attractive qualities.
Foyle is one of those exquisitely decent, deeply introverted, excruciatingly English chaps whom Michael Kitchen plays so well by playing down. He seems to materialise rather than arrive, like a little cloud in a trilby. Sometimes, in the throes of thought, he may wear a slightly squeezed look as if pressing an inch of inspiration from the end of the tube. It’s a lovely bit of minimalism.
Read the rest of Nancy Banks-Smith’s snappy review (including her opinion on how Foyle wears his trilby) in The Guardian.
A mirthless smile for Howard Paige.
Another Elizabeth in Foyle’s life didn’t fare so well either:
F: Elizabeth –
E: How are you, Christopher? I mean, are you happy?
F: Well, uh, we’re at war. And I do worry about Andrew.
E: I’m not happy. I’ve been married to Arthur for twenty years. It was our wedding anniversary a week ago. He’s been very kind to me. He’s a very kind man.
Elizabeth Lewes visits Foyle to declare her abiding love for him, but her hopes for a reconciliation are quickly crushed.
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand’ring bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me prov’d,
I never writ, nor no man ever lov’d.
– Sonnet 116
Realized while updating this post that Amanda Root is almost 15 years younger than Michael Kitchen. The age difference isn’t especially glaring in Fifty Ships, thanks to most of us having become inured to ageism on screen, but going back in time, it would mean that Foyle proposed to Elizabeth when she was no more than 10 years old. No wonder she had to obey her father’s wishes!
From the Boston Globe’s review of Fifty Ships (July 18, 2004):
Enter Michael Kitchen, the fine British actor whose minimalist performance here makes Anthony Hopkins’s famously tight performance as a butler in “Remains of the Day” resemble Sean Penn on parade…He’s marvelous as Foyle, a middle-age widower with a son flying for the Royal Air Force. His verbal output is often monosyllabic, yet nuanced with the deft use of his eyes, slight cocks of his head, brief slumps of his shoulders. This lonely, attractive man misses nothing. Would that American detectives presented such restraint.
“Wherever you are, I will find you.”
Foyle isn’t intimidated by officials who are lofty in rank or in height. Must give the attache his due, though, since after S8 we now know just how much of a harassment Foyle can be to Howard Paige!
Fifty Ships. My very favorite episode. The man is uncompromising even when he must compromise for the good of the nation. It seems unusual in television these days to have complicated, absolutely moral characters. What kind of failure of imagination leads us to protagonist after protagonist that ranges only from evil to deeply flawed? Kudos to Mr. Horowitz and our dear MK.