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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Lionel Jeffries R.I.P.: 'He seemed to represent a different era'


Well, we lost Ian Carmichael a couple of weeks back, and now, sadly we've lost Lionel Jeffries.

Above you can watch some clips from Don Sharp's wonderfully wacky and very funny 1967 film ‘Jules Verne’s Rocket to the Moon’ in which Jeffries appeared as the Victorian inventor Sir Charles Dillworthy, alongside Terry-Thomas(playing another dastardly cad) and Dennis Price (as the Duke of Barset).

Jeffries was not only an excellent comic actor, but also an accomplised film director, and, by all accounts, an extremely nice person.

“He was wonderful to work with, really a joy", says Jenny Agutter, (who starred in the Jeffries-directed The Railway Children), in today's Sunday Express.
"He created such a family atmosphere on set of The Railway Children and was very funny. People adored him. He was a larger than life character, a sort of Edwardian, and he is vividly in my mind.”
“He treated myself, Sally Thomsett and Gary Warren entirely as children in the most charming way..He would give us pocket money if a shot went well and wait up for Sally and I if we had been out late. He was very caring – just lovely... Lionel will be enormously missed. I suppose what one is mourning is the passing of a particular time. He seemed to represent a different era.”

Just like Ian Carmichael.


Krakow's New Dragons said...

The passing of the wartime generation and those who have memories of World War Two now leaves the West dominated by the consumer entrepreneurs of the 1968 generation and 1970s.

On the whole I remember Richard Briers commenting on the decline of manners, the loss of the gentle humour and peaceable good natured characteristics of English people. I miss the best of this generation.

As much as I detest the entire political and economic class of people who dominate our public life in 2010. This has to be bound up with the asocial pathological "individualism" that neoliberalism creates.

Now we have nihilism, sneering, voyeurism and cruelty, transgression and a perverted celebration of the banality of evil in "the arts", patronised by dolts like Palumbo.

Unfortunately, these pathologies are coming to Poland. AS Czarny Kot pointed out "Galerianki" are girls who hand around shopping malls exchanging sexual favours for consumer goods.

Tack and meaningless art installations have been imposed and as Krakow becomes brutalised by being buried amidst concrete and plate glass kitsch, so do people react in a more brutal way.

People brush you aside if you ask directions where once they would always help in whatever English they have: I try in Polish and I'm snubbed "We speak English here. What do you want ?".

The suicide rate has increased massively and stress and cime continues to rocket as Hungarian billionaires close to the MSZP build megabuck malls like "Bonarka City Centre" and want to make Krakow "more like Las Vegas".

It isn't in Britain that people are becoming nastier and less gentle. Some older anti-semitic PiS voters are pretty ghastly too, but the idea of A Guest in the House is God in the house is replaced by CCTV surveillance.

In Chrzanow I tried to joke whilst waiting in a queue for a few beers at a 24 hour shop. The girls laughed only to tell me to run, as the nasy drunks behind me wanted to beat me up.

I ran away , was chased and as each precise punch and kick descended on me I was told "go back to England you fucking homosexual, paedophilic English son of a bitch".

The police noted the incident, knew the assailants and did nothing.

Nick said...

Blimey! The moment my back's turned all the people I think of of as true English gentlemen start falling over. To my mind, a great loss, with little sign of anyone to replace them.

And that's a pity.

Neil Clark said...

Hi Karl: great to hear from you.
That's a brilliant post.
I'm afraid the Britain of 2010 is more to the liking of Richard Branson, the 'democratic' king of 'consumer entrepreneurs', than dear old Richard Briers.
I can really empathise with your situation in Poland as I observed similar negative changes during my time in Hungary.
Neoliberalism certainly does encourage pathological individualism- if we take a look at Britain's political and economic elite, the noteworthy feature is how unlikeable and downright nasty the 'leading' figures are. Very dysfunctional people at the helm of a very dysfunctional society, and what's worse, they are trying to impose this socially destructive system all round the globe! Iran is next in line for the 'democracy' (ie imposition of neoliberalism), treatment.

Nick, agreed.
Good news from NL though, with the fall of the govt over Afghanistan.
You're living in a country which is more democratic than Britain, (not that that's too difficult!)

Mr. Piccolo said...

@Krakow's New Dragons:
I am sorry to hear Poland is changing so much. A friend of mine was in Krakow a few years back and told me how wonderful the city was. He even brought me back a little sculpture of the Wawel Dragon. I wonder, though, if tourists can really understand the changes going on if they don't stay in a place long enough.

As for Lionel Jeffries, it is sad that so many good-natured entertainers have passed on. I wonder if people like Jeffries would make it big in today's nasty world of entertainment. What is even worse perhaps is that a lot of people would probably not want to watch good-natured comedy today anyway. Neoliberalism has made us so cynical and nihilistic that I think many people would reject anything that was simply fun and imaginative.

I sometimes think that the cynicism and nihilism of our culture is one of the reasons nothing changes on the political front. People just don't care. Even if they know the system is bad, the feeling is "well, as long as I get mine, everyone else can go whistle Dixie."

Tom May said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom May said...

To elaborate on Neil's point about the changing nature of our culture; contrast the politicians here (1966) with those of today:

They provide a stark contrast to the patronising norm of today.