Friday, September 17, 2010

Colin Firth: You have been warned.

A few posts back, I mentioned my adoration and envy of the sublime cartoonist Ronald Searle, creator of the anarchic girls' school "St. Trinian's" and illustrator of the equally immortal "Molesworth" series, words by Geoffrey Willans. (When I was at university, the small comedy group that I belonged to wanted to turn Molesworth into a show for the Edinburgh Fringe. Mr. Searle, God bless him, gave us the go-ahead, but the heirs of the late Mr. Willans wouldn't grant permission, so we did a skit show instead, called "Once Bitten.")

The first St. Trinian's cartoon appeared in 1942. (Ronald Searle is 90 years old.) As well as filling many books, the cartoons inspired several classic movies in the 1950s and 60s. And I just rented the 2007 attempt to revive the franchise. This St. Trinian's, featuring Rupert Everett as the headmistress, got decidedly mixed reviews (although a sequel appeared last year), but I thought it was a hoot from start to finish, not least because it features Stephen Fry in his best role -- himself, always -- and sends up Colin Firth mercilessly.

I've always found that the heterosexual male reaction to actors who continually set the ladies' hearts a-fluttering (and not just their hearts, I hear) falls into two categories. Either the "Yeah, he seems like a good bloke and I suppose I can see why you'd call him good-looking, not that I'm gay or anything" group or the "Just because you like the way his tight white pants fit in No Way Out doesn't mean I can forgive him for Waterworld or The Postman, and I still think he looks like a rodent" group.

The likeable Mr. Darcy, sorry, Firth clearly fits the first group. But so too, when I first devised this scientifically tested distinction in the 1980s, did Mel Gibson, who has subsequently imploded in every possible category of life. On the other hand, founder member of the despised second group, Kevin Costner, stepped up to try to clean the Gulf after the Deepwater Horizon spill. So be careful, Colin. That's all I'm saying.

And Costner was very, very good in Clint Eastwood's A Perfect World. Mind you, after The Bodyguard and that bloody song, anything would be an improvement. My song "Once Bitten," from the show of the same name, is brilliant. People left the theater singing it.

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