Tuesday, September 22, 2015


Many of my favorite comedies are British. Among the flms are Cold Comfort Farm, The Ladykillers (the 1955 one with Alec Guinness), The Lavender Hill Mob (also with Alec Guinness), the first Pink Panther film and just about anything else with Peter Sellers. The series include both Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister, and, of course, Jeeves & Wooster. Amazon just offered Rumpole of the Bailey, all forty-two episodes (35 hours) for a good price, I bought it, and it just arrived. Many episodes are available on YouTube. The series was shown in the United States on PBS from 1978 to 1992 and starred Leo McKern in the title role.

From a good online review of the series:
What can we say about Rumpole that he hasn’t said himself? He’s a member of the criminal Bar, plies his trade at the Old Bailey, and is in constant conflict with judges, his wife and the Head of Chambers (whom he sees in common as authority figures and worthy of his elegant defiance). It is his dry wit that gets him into trouble, together with his vigorous defence (NEVER the prosecution) of less savoury criminals who get up the nose of the Old Bailey judges. He loves a drink with his small cigars, always preferring the cheapest plonk available at Pommeroy's Winebar (where he favours "Chateau Fleet Street" or "Chateau Thames Embankment"), but don’t be fooled by his appearance — he is an awe-inspiring advocate....

Horace came to prominence, as he loves to tell us, in the infamous Penge Bungalow Murders Case. We’re not exactly sure when this case took place, but like a good fishing story it has obviously acquired a certain sheen with the passage of time. One thing we know for sure - it turned on Rumpole’s vast grasp of the forensic significance of blood stains, and thus a facility with bloodstains has remained for Rumpole the hallmark of a barrister’s skill. ....

A motley group of indelibly drawn characters appear in "Rumpole of the Bailey". For the most part these are incompetent lawyers or peevish judges, who challenge Rumpole’s sense of justice like a bull at a red rag. The audience is treated to Rumpole’s magnificent stream of privately whispered ridicule, which range from mimicry to barbed comments on the judicial process. ....
A sample from YouTube:

“Rumpole, you must move with the times."
"If I don't like the way the times are moving, I shall refuse to accompany them.”

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