Just finished reading Circling the Sun, Paula McLain’s historical novel about the remarkable Beryl Markham. The book makes an interesting companion piece to Out of Africa given Markham’s close friendship with the film’s protagonists.
From an interview with McLain at longitudebooks.com:
I’ve watched Out of Africa so many times, that I had to deliberately shove Meryl Streep out of my head to write Karen Blixen, and Robert Redford out of my head to write Finch Hatton, but Michael Kitchen—who played Berkeley Cole so memorably in the film, wouldn’t leave. I had his face and voice hovering in every scene in which he appears.
Michael Kitchen is all sun-kissed gorgeousness and gentlemanly charm as Berkeley Cole in Out of Africa.
My top 20 Michael Kitchen roles:
9. Berkeley Cole in Out of Africa (1985)
Meryl Streep was one lucky actress playing opposite MK and Robert Redford amidst the beauty of Africa.
Meryl Streep thought her leading man was perfect, but one wonders how much better the movie might have been had Michael Kitchen been cast in the role of Denys Finch Hatton.
A lovely shot of Michael Kitchen from Out of Africa.
Just viewed an exhibit on Hollywood costume design and got to see the dress Meryl Streep wore in this scene, but sadly, not Michael Kitchen’s outfit. I lightened the shadows here so we could get a proper look at MK’s adorable mug. Really, what were the filmmakers thinking? I bet Robert Redford’s face was never shot in such low light in the film.
Posted by fuckyeahbritisheastafrica:
Reginald Berkeley Cole (1882-1925), an Anglo-Irish aristocrat from Ulster (being a son of The 4th Earl of Enniskillen), was a veteran of theBoer War, a possessor of a sly wit who affected a dandy’s persona in the Kenya colony. A brother-in-law of The 3rd Baron Delamere, he was also a founder of the Muthaiga Club, the legendary private Nairobi enclave of the colony’s demi-monde. Cole was a close friend of Finch Hatton and the two men supplied Blixen with much of the wine she served on her farm. She famously described him drinking a bottle of champagne every morning at eleven, and complaining if the glasses were not of the finest quality. Cole died in 1925 of heart failure, at the age of 43. “An epoch in the history of the Colony came to an end with him,” Blixen wrote. “The yeast was out of the bread of the land.” (x)
Is that a tan line from his hat across the top of his forehead?
Looks like face wasn’t cleaned: I’m pretty sure his hat would have covered more than that from the sun. (Though why wouldn’t he have cleaned his face?)
You’re right, a brimmed hat would have shaded more of his face. Trick of the lighting, perhaps? Or maybe fake tan makeup applied while he had his hat on?
Dashing Berkeley Cole to the rescue. His efforts are for nought, however, as Karen Blixen ignores his pleas and resumes her dangerous expedition to bring supplies to her husband.
(If you’re a fan of MK’s Berkeley Cole and haven’t read “I Promise” by dancesabove, I’d recommend it. M-rated, alas, but a beautifully written story that fleshes out every nuance of the Berkeley and Karen we see in the film.)
And I was looking at Robert Redford throughout. What was I thinking!
Perfectly understandable. RR was a gorgeous superstar then, and like MK in his later 40’s, he still had ample power to seduce.
Oh Lordy! Have this man washed and sent to my tent. Actually, don’t bother I’ll take him Hot, Sweaty and Grubby and lick him clean. :p
Slim, close-cropped, and old-school preppy — I love Michael Kitchen’s look in his films from 1985 – Love Song, The Browning Version, and Out of Africa, which contain three of his most appealing performances. What a stellar year among many in his career.
I’ll never get tired of watching the perfection of this scene with its display of affection and old-world manners between Berkeley Cole and Karen Blixen.
Berkeley Cole enjoys an evening of storytelling by Karen Blixen, and then together with Denys Finch Hatton, thanks her with a rousing song.
In the book, Conversations at the American Film Institute with the Great Moviemakers, Meryl Streep recalls to the interviewer:
…one of the earliest sequences is at the dinner table where Redford comes for dinner, and basically falls in love. Michael Kitchen is his compadre and they come and I tell a lot of stories. I was doing this and they were kind of glazing over after I would tell the same story, so I started making up the stories. Redford’s very easy to crack up — he has no control. So that was fun. A lot of improvisation and stuff.
Was there a lot of improvisation in the scene?
No, only off-camera when Sydney wanted me to elicit certain reactions from the actors.
A feverish Berkeley Cole in Out of Africa.
Berkeley Cole pours drinks for Karen Blixen and Denys Finch Hatton on the veranda of her house in Out of Africa (1985).
Gorgeous film, gorgeous actors.
Continuing on the topic of wardrobe perfection…
As the consummate gentleman, Berkeley Cole, in Out of Africa (1985), Michael Kitchen cuts a decidedly dashing, romantic, and swoon-worthy figure decked out in his khaki game-hunter costume complete with sweat and grime. No wonder safari clothing became all the rage when the film was released!