The film, told in parts with quaint title-cards directing us – begins in Italy where Miss Lucy Honeychurch is on a sojourn with her older cousin Charlotte Bartlett. The straight-laced Miss Bartlett stands in contrast to the more worldly occupants at their inn, for example the talkative novelist Miss Eleanor Lavish. The first scene sees Miss Lavish and Miss Bartlett out for a walk in the Italian sun.
This scene does not show it as much, but Tony Pierce-Roberts photography beautifully showcases the city. Incidentally, Helena Bonham Carter was the star of another film with beautiful Italian cinematography – in The Wings of the Dove.
MISS LAVISH: “Look at that adorable wine cart. How he stares at us, dear simple soul! I love these little dark alleys.”
MISS LAVISH: “They're all peasants, you know. Come along.”
...More of this scene ...and another pair of British greats in another scene...
...Below the jump...
MISS LAVISH: “I do declare we're lost.”
MISS LAVISH: “No, Miss Bartlett, you will not look into your Baedeker. Two lone females in an unknown city, that's what I call an adventure. We will simply drift.”
MISS LAVISH: “One always has to be open – wide open. I think Miss Lucy is.”
MISS BARTLETT: “Open to what, Miss Lavish?”
MISS LAVISH: “To physical sensation. I'll let you into a secret. I have my eye on your cousin, Miss Lucy Honeychurch.”
MISS BARTLETT: “For a character in your novel, Miss Lavish?”
MISS LAVISH: “The young English girl, transfigured by Italy. And why should she not be transfigured? It happened to the Goths.”
It’s a titbit of a scene, but a charming one nonetheless. It’s not quite analogous with the scene below, but I do include them both because they have two qualities which I’m moved to touch on – the chance to see two pairs of British actors opposite each other decades ago is one. Then, the juxtaposition of a more open character alongside a more inhibited one is fun to watch especially since the “moral” of A Room with a View if there is one is opening your mind the senses.
So, young Lucy Honeychurch takes a walk with her betrothed – Cecil Vyse, who is something of a bore. It’s been some months since she kissed that passionate stranger in Italy and she is…restless.
(Gorgeous shot above, right?)
CECIL: “I want to ask you something that I have never asked before.”
LUCY: “What, Cecil? Yes?”
CECIL: “I have never kissed you.”
LUCY: “No. You haven't.”
CECIL: “May I now?”
LUCY: “Well, of course you may, Cecil. You might before. I can't run at you.”
I love how even in such an incidental way, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala’s excellent script touches on the issues of females being sexual of the era.
This is another shot I love. Lucy raising her veil so anxious to be kissed, but Cecil too nervous to focus on her wondering who could be watching.
The kiss is picturesque at first.
LUCY: “I'm sorry.”
Lucy is much too open for Cecil, indeed. She’s thinking about things that have already gone, like this...
Do you find A Room with a View as delightful as I do? How great is it seeing Judi and Maggie and DDL and HBC back in the day?