Even the homebound have movie stars.

November 11, 2010 at 8:49 PM (film) (, , , , , , )

Myself and three of my blog-aquaintances (blogquaintances?) have dealt past and/or present with the soul-stifling reality of being homebound…where along with any other mantras one chants, I think a necessity is this one: “it’s-better-than-an- institution,it’s-better-than-an-institution-it’s-better-than-an-institution…

I love Turner Classic Movies.  In the last five years I’ve seen at least 15 films that meet the “Buy the DVD when you have money again and watch it obsessively,” threshold for me and scores more that I love watching, but don’t feel the need to keep.

And one  that despite the melodrama, hammish acting by the male lead and unabashed sentimentality, that has been instrumental in keeping me mentally moving forward.

The Barretts of Wimpole Street. The beginning of the story of Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning

I don’t contend it’s historically accurate.  I don’t watch for that.  But…

The plot goes that a woman with  chronic illnesses a friendly attentive dog. and a dysfunctional family manages to become a nationally known poet from home, living in her bedroom.

There’s this one annoying cousin that  pushes the “sick person as saint,” line, but her immediate brothers and sisters don’t. She falls into the unfortunate role of ‘sick person as confidante in the beginning, as many of us do, when the able come to us with angst in their lives, about things we think we ourselves will never get to experience.

But soon, another poet meets her, rather suddenly falls for her and offers the very real possibility of a life beyond the walls. (Frederic March who played Robert Browning was apparently very embarrassed at how “hammy” he was.)  I’m ok with impulsive, brash, ridiculously cheery and loud.  I was married to a guy that acted like that sometimes.

I like that fact that although Norma Shearer’s Elizabeth improves, her getting completely ‘healed’ is not the main  point of the movie.   It drives home the point that it’s the dysfunctional family, a dynamic beyond her control, is limiting her far more than living in an upstairs bedroom is.

Her father is played to creepy effect by Charles Laughton.

The film ends with a list of positives, and hints of something Robert Browning may have given up himself, in order to commit to Elizabeth.  It’s sentimentalist , overacted by today’s standards, but the steady upward path of her progress, moving against more than one difficult tide of her life, with her talents as the springboard…I love it.

It’s a real chick flick guys, so avoid it if you can.  But it’s a pointer…for a way to have more good days, more hopeful days…At home.


  1. Glynis Jolly said,

    I wish I still got TCM. Unfortunately . . .

    I’ve always wondered about the story of Elizabeth and Robert. The poems they wrote to each other make wonder if they were allowed to see each other.

    • imfunny2 said,

      According to Wiki the real Robert and Elizabeth got together and did move to Italy.

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