Tuesday, January 26, 2016

"The Nine Tailors" -- TV Version

The beginning of the 4-part TV series "The Nine Tailors" --
a 1914 wedding in British upper class splendor.
The TV series "The Nine Tailors," originally broadcast on the BBC in 1974, begins with an opulent wedding. In the impressive reception hall of a fine country mansion, servants are placing the wedding cake and a remarkable collection of sweets on the buffet table. The night after the wedding, which took place in 1914, the mansion's butler and his accomplice steal a £60,000 emerald necklace from one of the guests. Lord Peter Wimsey, played by actor Ian Carmichael, is a guest at the wedding; he chases the fleeing suspect in a fast car.

The first episode of the TV series continues with the experiences of Peter Wimsey in the trenches of Word War I, providing the back-story of his relationship to his incomparable gentleman's gentleman, Bunter. It's a very dramatic and fast-paced hour of drama. Only at the very end of this episode do we go forward 20 years to 1934, when Wimsey and Bunter crash their car into a snowdrift in the same little town -- the point in time where the original novel by Dorothy Sayers begins. I find this rearrangement of flashbacks in the book into an exciting first episode to be very effective and enjoyable.
Ian Carmichael as Lord Peter Wimsey. 
From the second episode onward, the TV drama follows the book quite closely, continuing to dramatize every possible action scene with enthusiasm. In fact, this TV treatment seemed so exciting that we watched all 4 episodes in one night. 

I've already written about my visit to the prototype of the little town and the church that is central to the plot of Sayers' book. I believe that some of the filming was done at that location or at least using a reconstruction of that church. If anything, this treatment an improvement over the book, as the long-winded digressions on bell ringing and other technical subjects were condensed sufficiently to contribute to the plot without retarding the action. Even though I don't find the sound of pealing bells particularly appealing, it's much nicer to hear them than to read about them!

The Five Red Herrings, another Lord Peter Wimsey novel, was also made into a BBC TV series with Ian Carmichael as the detective. I also watched it recently, but did not like it nearly as well -- in fact, I found the acting wooden and dialog too staged, which is odd since it dates from only a year later. The actors in "Nine Tailors" seemed much better suited to their roles, especially the character parts like the Rector, his wife, the doctor, and the eccentric village people.

For all my blog posts about Dorothy Sayers, including this one, click here.


Kitchen Riffs said...

I haven't read Dorothy Sayers in years! This one was my favorite. Have a copy of it somewhere -- need to dig it out and reread. And had no idea a TV series was made out of it -- that'd be fun to watch. Thanks!

Li said...

Just found your interesting blog and am looking forward to discovering more. I noticed one of your likes is Japanese film & wondered what your sources were? I cannot afford the expensive Amazon copies & my once reliable, inexpensive source has shut down (Canadian laws?). In spite of the current burst of programing there is not a lot available of "modern" Japanese directors. The last film I purchased was Kamome Diner & it was expensive! Have been looking for "Toilet" by director Naoko Ogigami. Thanks.

Mae Travels said...

To Li,
Many of the Japanese films I've seen/mentioned in this blog were shown at a long-time film series sponsored by the University of Michigan Japan Center. Unfortunately, this series seems to have ended. I've also found some films on Netflix streaming video and amazon streaming video. I am not familiar with the films you mentioned, so I'm afraid I can't help. As you say, there may be different availabilty in Canada anyway. Sorry.

Jeanie said...

Very interesting observations, Mae, and you inspire me to want to view the series again -- and especially this one. I remember liking them very much first time around but that was so many years ago!