Friday, May 20, 2022

The Duke

Is a charm dead, considering all that’s wrong with the world? Roger Mitchell’s The Duke starring Helen Mirren (Dorothy Bunton) and James Broadbent (Kempton Bunton) proves that delight can exist. It need not even be condescending, trivial or absurdly unreal. The "real" life story of the ransoming of Goya’s "Portrait of the Duke of Wellington” is well-known, but it’s the enchanting and humorous moments of human kindness couched at times in laugh-out-loud humor that sets the movie apart. Certain scenes standout. Amongst them the trial in which the jury convicts the hero for shall we say a lesser offense. Then there’s the one where Bunton is literally stranded out at sea. It’s a wonderful monologue about realizing the universe is  a beneficent place. Is it? The altruist in question is also a playwright who has written about the untimely death of a beloved daughter in a biking accident. Though uneducated, he cites Chekhov’s Three Sisters. You wish he’ll have some luck and that his suffering will not be for nothing, but as in Chekhov, it's not—at least in terms of the publication he seeks. Bunton does, however, become famous and yes the subject of a movie--albeit made long after his death.

read "The Promiscuous and the Protean" by Francis Levy, The East Hampton Star

and listen to "Duke of Earl"by Gene Chandler

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