sovay: (Claude Rains)
sovay ([personal profile] sovay) wrote2016-03-11 06:35 pm

I mean, do you know how the male newt proposes, Bertie?

I got up at a perfectly reasonable hour today, but due to the necessity of working my actual job have had no chance to do anything else with my brain, except just now when I got back from the doctor, checked in on the internet, and got distracted.

Yes, Tumblr, I would adore a version of Jeeves and Wooster in which Richard Ayoade played Gussie Fink-Nottle. Why has this not already happened? Somebody please turn this entire gifset from fancasting to the real thing.

Original flavor Gussie Fink-Nottle was one of my earliest unmistakable lessons in physical acting, actually. I was a late bloomer: I didn't encounter Fry and Laurie's Jeeves and Wooster (1990–93) until my junior year of college and my very first episode was "The Hunger Strike," in which a gloomily lovestruck Gussie accidentally introduces a new dance craze to the Drones Club by demonstrating the shimmying courtship display of the male newt. I imprinted on the character, obviously. I have been in sympathy my entire life with anyone real or fictional who finds the conventions of human romance less comprehensible than any number of intellectual obsessions, plus Gussie is one of the few non-Jeeves inhabitants of Wodehouse's universe with a demonstrable brain. It's very specifically focused, he can't hold a conversation that's not about aquatic members of the family Salamandridae, but that's more mental content than I'm willing to bet you could get out of Barmy Fotheringay-Phipps. I know who I'd rather talk to at parties. Anyway, I could prove from head shots that Richard Garnett had all his facial features in order and not a bad order at that, but Gussie with his reedy mush-mouth and his goggle-thick glasses and his anxiously slumped shoulders and his total social bewilderment—unless shikkered at the Market Snodsbury prize-giving—projected such a damp, hopeless aura of interwar dweebery that I wouldn't have sworn to recognize the actor in street clothes. I was just starting to pay attention to movies. I did not yet have extensive experience of theatrical chameleons in the wild. I found it very striking.1 I had taken a class in physical comedy and clowning the previous fall and so I watched Gussie through its lens, concentric vs. eccentric body language, Garnett's apparent ability to make his chin disappear on command. It was an engaging character and a definitive performance. In the spring, the Brandeis Hillel Theater Group would stage Frank Loesser's How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and I would delight similarly in Mike Zoosman's J.B. Biggley: I went in knowing he was in the production, but when the grey-haired company president with elastic eyebrows and a Sprechstimme mutter stormed onstage only to be knocked sprawling by his newest employee, it wasn't until he had blustered his way back to his feet that I recognized him. After that I think I watched more closely what actors did with their bodies as well as their voices. It is still something I enjoy thinking about.

To return to the original point of this post, however: having seen Richard Ayoade react to a fire in his wastebasket by writing an e-mail about it, I can picture him quite seriously lamenting that the world is not a newt. It is a beautiful thought and we should all be given the chance to enjoy it. The rest of the casting looks good to me, too.

1. I've never seen Garnett in another part, although he's one of the reasons I keep meaning to watch the 1989 BBC Tom's Midnight Garden. I was comforted to discover in 2010 that the reason his filmography stopped suddenly in 1998 was career change rather than sudden death. Weirdly, a similar situation prevails with Arthur Howard, an actor I had remembered fondly from Square One TV (1987–1992) as the "certified nationwide klutz" of "Less Than Zero" and the Roman music producer at his wits' end with differing numeral systems in "The Mathematics of Love." On finding his limited IMDb entry, I started to worry—I mean, I lost track of Larry Cedar for a couple of decades and he ended up an opium addict in Deadwood. Howard became a children's author. I'm cool with that.
spatch: (Father Ted - Dougal on TV)

[personal profile] spatch 2016-03-12 11:09 am (UTC)(link)
I mean, I lost track of Larry Cedar for a couple of decades and he ended up an opium addict in Deadwood.

Yeah, that was a terrific moment of cognitive dissonance there. I wonder if people brought up on Blue's Clues experience similar when they happen upon the rerun of Homicide with Steve as a very grown-up heroin addict. (I wonder if Homicide is rerun anywhere, or if it remains quietly tucked away in the archives while Law & Order practically gets an entire channel to itself.)

Ayoade would do his newt homework, for sure. He'd make sure to get the newt aspect down before tackling the Fink-Nottle. He commits to the joke, darnit.

[identity profile] 2016-03-12 07:41 pm (UTC)(link)
Gussie Fink-Nottle!

I'd take a movie about Gussie any way I could get it, although this proposed casting interests me greatly and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

Also, I have just found out that Elisha Cook Jr. played Richard Miller in the first production of Ah, Wilderness! and so I feel the urge to share, even though you probably already know this.

[identity profile] 2016-03-12 08:28 pm (UTC)(link)
Andrew has a complete set of the 1950s Adventures of Superman with George Reeves, and I was fascinated to learn, a couple of years ago, that Jack Larsen ( (Jimmy Olsen) had a whole other career as a poet and playwright (apparently no one had expected the pilot to get picked up, and for two years it wasn't, and then suddenly everyone who'd been cast had to drop whatever they'd been doing and go back to making more episodes). Eventually he was the sort of person Virgil Thompson would ask for a libretto, Gertrude Stein being unavailable. Also he dated Montgomery Clift for a while.