I missed my trolley stop this evening because I was caught up in Trevelyan's England Under the Stuarts. It's just so much like listening to some charming professor rambling on from memory rather than like reading a history book. He goes on a lovely soliloquy at some points and even forgets to include the actual historical event he's referring to, putting it in a foot note like some slightly embarrassing formality.
About Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon:
Yet though he clung with the honesty of an earlier age to his political principles of Anglican intolerance and royal prerogative, he was too ready to sacrifice his dignity as a man in order to retain his office as a Chancellor. In his sly and curious method of defending his daughter's honour when James hesitated to acknowledge her as wife, in his dealings with the Queen, in his love of splendid living and of high place, he recalls the sordid side of Coke or Bacon. It had been his fate to live too many years among mean men. Clarendon had lost the nobility of Hyde. But when, again in exile, he was thrown back on the resources of his own virtue and intellect, and again set himself, an old and broken man, to complete the great literary work of his life, he seemed once more to enter the pure presence of the friend who had deserted him on the field of Newbury, of whose love he had once been worthy and was again worthy at the end.*
*The King compelled him to resign the Great Seal, August 1667. Parliament impeached him, he fled and was banished, November 1667-April 1668. He remained in exile till his death at Rouen in 1674.
On Sunday night I watched Alfred Hitchcock's Stage Fright again. What a delicious, perfect film. I guess if there's a weak point it's Jane Wyman as the main protagonist but she's not bad at all. Jean Simmons might have been better or--ou!--Audrey Hepburn! But she wasn't a star yet and Wyman had just won best actress. Anyway, about a film that also has Marlene Dietrich, Alastair Sim, Joyce Grenfell, and Michael Wilding I can't complain. And it's Hitchcock coming out of his long take phase all the stronger at the editing he was so self-conscious about early on.
It seems to me that of all of Hitchcock's protagonists, Alastair Sim is an avatar for his perversity unlike any other. The scene where Sim cuts his hand and rubs his blood on a doll to intimidate Dietrich--and save the day!--reminds me of the story about Hitchcock sending Tippi Hedren a doll in a wooden box. One wonders how often Hitchcock sent people dolls to make point. There are plenty of people who do weird things in Hitchcock movies but none with Sim's self possession and good humour.