Directed by Cyril Coke
Written by Roy Clarke
Starring Bob Hoskins, Frances de la Tour
As you can guess from seeing the topics on this blog, I’ve always loved movies, and also movies and TV shows about making movies. And, even though I rarely watched Masterpiece Theater at the time, I was glad to catch Flickers.
The six-part series featured the story of Arnie Cole (Bob Hoskins), a small-time nickelodeon operator in 1910 who wanted to produce films in his own hteater. He’s a lower class guy without much money, and when he’s introduced to Maud (Frances de la Tour), who’s rich and too snobbish for his taste, he realizes that she could help fund him. But Maud, who is no beauty, gets pregnant and needs a father for the child, so the two reluctantly marry.
The series covers a lot of the clichés of filmmaking of the era, but the true joy is watching the two leads. Hoskins has always been an amazing actor and in this role, his blustery persona is the perfect foil for Maud. Frances de la Tour* is an accomplished farceur and gives as good as she gets, but also shows a vulnerability that brings a lot of charm to the entire enterprise.
The series was written by Roy Clarke, who later became major success in Britcons, creating and writing Keeping Up Appearances and The Last of the Summer Wine.
The show was enough of a success to spawn a thematic sequel, Pictures, though with none of the same cast. It was set about ten years later, as the characters tried to make it in the movies. Though far less successful, the most amusing moments were provided by an actor playing the representative of a Hollywood studio. The character was supposed to be Jewish, but the way he said “Oy Vey” – in a way no one has ever said the phrase – was a joy to behold.
Flickers had a release on VCR, but nothing on DVD.
*Currently chewing the scenery with Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi in Viscious.