I tried

09 Feb

Yesterday I finished The Portrait of a Lady.  Yea, me! POAL dvd

This is a good thing for two reasons:
1. I finished the novel! (whew!  big sigh of relief)
2. I picked up the BBC movie version at the library this week.

So after closing the book, I headed downstairs to fold laundry and watch the movie.

I tried.  I really did, but I just can’t do it.

Here are reasons why I should keep watching the movie:

  • It’s BBC.  They’re always fantastic
  • It’s Richard Chamberlain as Ralph Touchett.  (How have you been pronouncing the character’s last name?  They say “touch-it” in the movie.)
  • It was taped in six episodes, so chances are it is faithful to the novel.
  • All the locations.  Will they use sets or travel?


  • It’s four hours long!
  • It was filmed in 1968.  The actors behave as if they are on a stage and the camera angles are strange.  Very old-time soap opera feeling.
  • Did I mention it’s four hours long?

I watched the first two scenes, turned off the movie, and came upstairs to sit at the computer and confess that I tried, but I’m not sure I can finish the screen version of The Portrait of a Lady.

I am curious about the actors that play Mme. Merle, Osmond, and Pansy.  I’m not sure that I’m so terribly curious that I’ll sit through 240 minutes of BBC soap opera Henry James novel.

Perhaps I’ll see if the library can get me this version.  It’s only 144 minutes.POAL dvd2


Posted by on February 9, 2013 in The Portrait of a Lady


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6 responses to “I tried

  1. Ruth @ Experiment with The Well-Educated Mind

    February 9, 2013 at 10:20 am

    I’ll wait to see your review on the second version. I wasn’t excited about seeing a film version, but I think Malkovich will make a great Osmond.

  2. Cheryl

    February 9, 2013 at 11:07 am

    I think finishing the book is good enough. Here’s what H. G. Wells said about Henry James:

    “James’ denatured people are only the equivalent in fiction of those egg-faced, black-haired ladies who sit and sit in the Japanese color-prints . . . These people cleared for artistic treatment never make lusty love, never go to angry war, never shout at an election or perspire at poker.”

    And H. L. Mencken called him “an idiot, and a Boston idiot, to boot, than which there is nothing lower in the world.”

    Hey, they said it; I’m only repeating it. 🙂

    • Christina Joy

      February 9, 2013 at 1:35 pm

      This is exactly the role I hoped you would play as our “James Expert.” Thank you from the bottom of my very bored heart.

  3. Christina Joy

    February 9, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    I’ve been meaning to write a post about the pronunciation of Touchett (since I don’t seem to have much else going for me post-wise.) Our audio book also goes with “touch-it,” and it took me by surprise, although that’s what I’ve got stuck in my head now.

    • Christine

      February 9, 2013 at 3:11 pm

      In my head I was pronouncing it Too-shay. Whoops!

  4. Cheryl

    February 9, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    I am not a James expert. Yes, I took an entire semester of graduate credit in James. But as one tends to do with trauma, I’ve blocked it all out.


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