Category: 1950’s Era

Viceroy’s House (Movie 2017)

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Streaming on Netflix is the Viceroy’s House, a little historical gem for those interested in a bit of history you may not know.  Released in September of 2017, it focuses on the 70th anniversary of Indian independence from British rule.

If you didn’t realize, at one time Britain ruled a quarter of the world, coining the term, “The sun never sets on the British empire.”  For any of you history buffs, I highly recommend watching BBC’s EMPIRE that aired in 2012.  I found it on YouTube and it consists of five episodes in documentary form.  Fantastic series.  You probably should check other streaming services too.

Okay, back to the Viceroy’s House.  Bit by bit Britain’s empire shrunk worldwide as countries they dominated won their freedom.  In 1947, a new Viceroy arrives, Lord Mountbatten played by Hugh Bonneville, to oversee the transition of power.  His wife and daughters accompany him.  Unfortunately, India is in religious turmoil, filled with violence, and no one has an idea how to bring the fighting factions together which consisted of Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims.  It is a sad state of affairs.

Unable to bring about the peace needed after much negotiation, Britain decides to split the country into two – India and Pakistan, which gives the Muslims their own country in Pakistan.  The result is absolute chaos as millions of people partition to either side.  The movie’s romantic undertones are between a Hindu and Muslim who fall in love and struggle with the impossible situation of being together.

Naturally, the story is filled with negotiations from all the factions involved, including Gandhi’s bid for a unified India that falls on deaf ears.  To mitigate further deaths and violence, Britain decides to move ahead with the partition. It leaves an unimaginable 11.2 million displaced persons in a massive population exchange.

It’s an interesting movie that looks into a critical time in history.  If you’re into these types of stories, I recommend you check this one out for educational purposes.  Of course, at the end, it leaves you scratching your head over why we can’t just live in peace with each other regardless of our faiths.

Father Brown (BBC Series 2013-2017)

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Streaming on Netflix are years and years filled with Father Brown, and I’ve been overdosing on Catholicism in a predominantly Anglican country (thanks to Henry VIII).  Who knew England had so many Catholics sleuths solving murders and giving absolution?  Enter Father Brown, who baptizes, marries, and mostly buries the humans of their small country village because of the usual incompetent police force.  Mark Williams makes a fine priest and wears the collar well in this series.  He is never without his umbrella or his bicycle.

The Father is an odd sort of fellow who tells an occasional white lie for the greater good, steals evidence, enjoys his occasional glass of alcohol, has been known to go to the theater, and will read a few questionable books if it helps to solve a crime.  What is interesting about this series is that you are often brought into the confessional as he hears his parishioners confess their sins and sometimes in spite of the sin must keep it a secret.  Of course, it’s no secret to the audience.

What strikes me the most are the reminders that murderers are hung by the neck until dead. I find it somewhat disconcerting watching executions of humans so quickly bound, neck-tied with rope, a bag placed over the head, and the floor pulled from underneath their feet.  Justice served, as some would say, but if the good Father has his way, the soul is saved. The last hanging in the United Kingdom occurred in 1964, and since Father Brown isn’t quite in that era, the noose is still the preferred form of punishment.  However, a few get off with extenuating circumstances.

Nevertheless, the Father is quite the character, who has his sidekicks in criminal sleuthing that includes his secretary, Mrs. McCarthy, Lady Felicia the local upper class, and her chauffeur Sid Carter.  The police dislike the Father’s interference (as the series does go through a few different inspectors), but if it were not for the Father’s involvement, not a crime would be solved.

You may not like the religious inferences of confession and repentance in all of the episodes, however, there are more lofty ones such as the Father sacrificing his life to save another.  You may also hear quite a bit of Latin here and there being spoken over dead bodies.  Supposedly based on characters by G.K. Chesterton.  If you’re into reading the original plots, you can do so by purchasing his books on Amazon.

There are so many crime shows from the British, who obviously love to kill people on paper and write dastardly plots with twist and turns, that it is often hard to choose the most entertaining. From Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot, Grantchester, to Father Brown, plus others, there are plenty of period murder mysteries to keep you busy.  Father Brown is not the cream of the crop, but if you’ve binged on everything else, it fills the need for murders, graves, and mysteries.  There is no gore, but there is death.

 

Grantchester (2014-Present ITV)

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Grantchester – the show with a hot vicar.  Are vicar’s allowed to be hot?  Are they allowed to drink too much, enjoy a good smoke, and love a married woman? Do they have a propensity for solving crime?

Better looking any day than Miss Marple, comes Sidney Chambers, played by the dreamy James Norton.  Probably no one during Season 1 of Grantchester drooled over him as much as they have after War & Peace.  The ladies are clamoring to see more of this handsome Brit with a dreamy voice (if he’s not playing the psychopath in Happy Valley). So flock to Season 2 now on Masterpiece Theater (or Theatre, depending on which side of the pond you come from).

The scene is set in the 1950’s in Cambridgeshire village, which is apparently the era where Midwife, A Place to Call Home, Brooklyn, and a few other shows are reviving the times. James Norton plays the heartbroken man, whose love of his life married someone else. He carries the unrequited love torch throughout the episodes unable to give her up completely. As hard as his friend tries at matchmaking, he just can’t seem to move on.

Of course, Morven Christie as Amanda Kendall doesn’t help matters either. Having married the man her daddy preferred (higher classed gentry), she’s not acting very happy. Nevertheless, even though the lady’s husband just punched Sidney in the nose and told him to stay away from his wife, he doesn’t seem to get the point he’s stepping across boundaries.  Give it a rest Sidney.  Plenty of other women are willing to fall at your feet and wash your clergy robes.

The vicar, of course, has another relationship going on besides his congregation.  He is sleuth friends with Detective Inspector Geordie Keating played by Robson Green. Though he thinks that Sidney should keep his nose out of the business of police work, he ends up tolerating his interference while solving the latest crime.  The Grantchester Mysteries are based on stories written by James Runcie.

Even though the eye candy for the ladies with Mr. Norton exists, I do not find the murder and crime portion of it as engaging as other British television shows. It’s lacking the tension, dark mystery, and danger I prefer. There is always a short sermon in there somewhere for the small congregation of Sidney’s church (no revival going on here), but otherwise, the tales of crime and woe are so-so.  I’ve been spoiled by intense story  lines elsewhere, but I guess in 1950 crime wasn’t as exciting in Britain.

Nevertheless, it fills the void on Sunday nights.  Let’s hope that Sidney falls in love with someone and we get a little heat rather than remorse brewing each episode.  It could liven things up.

Will the vicar eventually fornicate?  Heaven help us. So far he’s good at pushing women up against a brick wall during a passionate kiss.  There may be redemption for this man after all.

P.S. It appears that Grantchester has been renewed for Season 3.

A Place to Call Home (Australian TV 2013 – Present)

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Stars: Marta Dusseldorp, Noni Hazlehurst, Brett Climo

To my downfall, I ordered Acorn Television subscription service on Amazon. I’m a junkie and this is a HUGE fix for me to jump into a world of the best of British, Australian, and New Zealand television on the planet. The Aussies are proving to be just as good as the Brits when it comes to television, and A Place to Call Home is a great example.

I recently devoured Season 1, 2, and 3. Season 3 only has three episodes posted on Acorn, but I’ve hit their Facebook page for further updates since the show is continuing to air.

Nevertheless, enter post-World War 2 in Australia, where people who have suffered its ravages have recovered as best they could. It’s the early 1950’s and life is relatively simple in a small town. The nearby big town is Sydney and is referred to as “the city.”

Sarah Adams (Marta Dusseldorp) is the focal point of the story line. She is a nurse returned home to see her mother and aunt. However, Sarah’s mother hates her for converting to Judaism to marry a Parisian Jewish man that she fell in loved with during pre-WW2. They lived in Paris, and when the Germans invaded, their lives turned into a virtual hell. Sarah, believing that her husband was killed during the war, attempts to rebuild her life in Australia. She is haunted, however, by her own suffering having been prisoner in Ravensbruck.

The other central point of the story is the Bligh family, who are the rich land and sheep owners of their district. They live in the big house, and the family is literally run by the matriarch mother, Elizabeth Bligh, a widow. Her son George, and grandchildren live at the estate. Elizabeth has one goal in life and that is to protect the family name whatever the cost. When an impending scandal threatens everything, she vainly attempts to fix everything and ends up alienating everyone.

The series is a multi-plot line of individual lives. The themes of class structure, homosexuality, anti-Semitism, and other issues are at the forefront. The major pain in the neck is Elizabeth Bligh. When you are about to slap the woman in the face, she finally finds an ounce of redemption. Then the writers bring in even a bigger pain in the neck, Regina, who you will absolutely loathe.

It’s another good series to get sucked into. I suppose you could call it the Dynasty-type series from down under.

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