Thursday, October 22, 2015

Wodehouse in Exile

I just heard that the City of New York is honoring traitorous communist spy Ethel Rosenberg [link]. When you're on the left, all is forgiven, sooner or later. Just look at Bill Ayers and his wife [link]. The right is another matter. Even being erroneously associated with the right is unforgivable, or at least you need twenty years or so to be forgiven for something you didn't do. And that's the case with P. G. Wodehouse.

Wodehouse was of course the author of a heap of hilarious novel, the most well-known of which are the Jeeves and Wooster stories, which I'd recommend to anybody. Hugh Laurie, years before "House," portrayed Bertie Wooster opposite Stephen Fry as Jeeves in a series based on the books. I recommend that, as well.

And now there's a film about Wodehouse. Wodehouse in Exile [link] tells the story about what happened to him during the war. In summary, he was living in France, oblivious to what was going on, when the
Germans invaded and interned him as an enemy alien. Cleverly, they treated him well and released him, though they didn't let him leave Germany. They jollied him along, and he ended up doing some comic broadcasts to the United States, mainly to thank Americans for their support and to assure them that he was well. He was a naif, politically, and had no idea his broadcasts could benefit the Germans in any way. But the Brits flew into a fury. As George Orwell put it many years ago:
Tim Piggott-Smith

In the desperate circumstances of the time, it was excusable to be angry at what Wodehouse did, but to go on denouncing him three or four years later — and more, to let an impression remain that he acted with conscious treachery — is not excusable. (Read Orwell's whole piece on the subject here [link].)

As near as I can tell, the film is historically correct —though I understand that they got Malcolm Muggeridge's rank wrong. Muggeridge is portrayed by a rather remarkable actor, Julian Rhind-Tutt ,who pops up now and then. Also, Zoe Wanamaker gives a delightful performance as Wodehouse's wife. And last of all, Tim Piggott-Smith does a remarkable job portraying Wodehouse himself. You may know Piggott-Smith from his performance years ago as Ronald Merrick in The Jewel in the Crown, in which he portrays a character who is the complete opposite of Wodehouse.

You can get the movie from Amazon here:

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, imagine the nerve of this guy being friendly with Hitler. Its not like he was friends with the former King or anything. Just think of how well former Great Britain is now that the German threat has been eliminated. High taxes, incompetent Third World Socialised Medicine and plenty of rapists to rape their daughters! Take that Hitler! Captain America might be black but the Red Skull wears womens' underwear according to the BBC.