THE IDES OF MIDDLEMARCH

It’s March 15th, and with it come two ides-of-March birthdays I’d like to note — but first, a note about the post’s title, which came to me from an 1874 novel I had heard of, but never read: MIDDLEMARCH, by George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans). It turns out that MIDDLEMARCH has nothing to do with the middle of March; it’s the name of a town in the Midlands of England (the novel’s setting). But let’s forget that I told you that. What’s the harm in letting it seem as if I made an educated choice for the title of this post?

In any case, what this is leading up to is a selection of George Eliot quotes, which I daresay you will find to be an oasis of reflective relief in America’s desert of bombastic hot air:

What do we live for, if not to make life less difficult for each other?

All meanings depend on interpretation.

No story is the same to us after a lapse of time; or rather we who read it are no longer the same interpreters.

A toddling little girl is a center of common feeling which makes the most dissimilar people understand each other.

What loneliness is more lonely than distrust?

Adventure is not outside man; it is within.

Now, as to those two birthdays, I expect that neither of the persons (both deceased) I am about to introduce is known to you (for which you are forgiven, but don’t let it happen again). But all is not lost — I remember them well. Their names: Philippe de Broca and Zarah Leander.

DE BROCA, born March 15, 1933 in Paris, was a French film director from 1959 to the year of his death in 2004. Of the 30 full-length feature films he directed in his career, I have seen only two….but those two are among my favorite movies of all time: THAT MAN FROM RIO (1964) and the cult classic KING OF HEARTS (1966). Here are three short clips from the former and one from the latter:

LEANDER, born March 15, 1907 in Karlstad (west of Stockholm), was a Swedish singer and actress who achieved her greatest success in Germany in the 1930s-40s. The German film industry had been seeking a new Marlene Dietrich since Marlene left for the U.S. in 1930. Leander made a name for herself in the same homeland as had Swedish screen diva Greta Garbo, which (beginning in 1936) led to starring roles for Leander in German language films in the hope of filling the void. In her memoir, Leander tells of her initial difficulties dealing with the German Ministry of Propaganda, since “Goebbels was highly displeased that the leading lady should be a foreigner. The fact that the mighty Third Reich could not produce its own Greta Garbo seemed to him an admission of inadequacy.”

For years, I exchanged correspondence with an elderly German first cousin (on my father’s side) who had remained in Germany until her death a decade or so ago. In one of my letters, I mentioned that I had a number of Zarah Leander recordings in my record collection and liked her voice. My cousin informed me that “The German soldiers were infatuated by her songs during the war.” Perhaps this clip will help you understand why:

 

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24 comments on “THE IDES OF MIDDLEMARCH

  1. ladysighs says:

    First met George Eliot in high school “Silas Marner”. Just another boring book. 😦
    Later on she became one of my favorite authors. “The Mill on the Floss” is my favorite.
    Some books to be read and reread. 🙂 You know the ending but somehow hope another reading will produce another ending.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. linnetmoss says:

    Is that Zarah’s voice? Very reminiscent of Dietrich! I found another by her on Youtube (Bei mir bist du schön) and the voice was not quite so low and androgynous.
    I loved “King of Hearts” but have not seen “Rio.”–Thanks for the recommendation!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse says:

      Zarah was 70 years old when she sang the song in that clip, and her voice was indeed lower and huskier than in the 1930s & 40s. I have in my collection many old records of Zarah, and there are other clips of her in later years, so I can confirm the difference you well noticed.
      As for “King of Hearts,” ditto. I think you would also love “Rio” — not to mention its good-looking star, the insouciant Jean-Paul Belmondo!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. mistermuse says:

    I know the feeling, ladysighs. I can’t tell you how many times that something I wrote didn’t come across the way I intended, and I could kick myself for not catching it before I posted it. But at least I’m still limber enough to be able to kick myself, even at my age. 🙂

    Like

  4. Please don’t kick yourself….I always also confuse George Eliot with George Sand. After all, what business have those ladies calling themselves George? Mary Ann Evans was George ELIOT and Aurore Dupin —pal of Frederic Chopin—-was George SAND. Tough for a lady author in those days.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse says:

      Thank you for noticing….after my confusion of the two, I join you in asking what business those ladies have calling themselves George! 🙂 Nonetheless, I will correct the error in my post forthwith!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. arekhill1 says:

    Sr. Muse, I always mean to thank you for posting on subjects I am too young to comment on, because it doesn’t happen much anymore. I did see “King of Hearts” once in my extreme youth, however.

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  6. mistermuse says:

    I appreciate that, Ricardo, but I think that only makes us even, because there are times I feel too old to comment on some of the subjects you post on your blog. But at least your posts are often accompanied by pix of scantily clad young women, which I hope never to be too old to appreciate.

    Like

  7. BroadBlogs says:

    Love those quotes from George Eliot! Hard to say which is my favorite.

    The Ides of March meets Super Tuesday. What’s up with that?

    The assassination of Julius Caesar. The suicide of the GOP — at least at the Presidential level?

    It’s weird year.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. mistermuse says:

    I agree about the George Eliot quotes. Can you imagine Donald Trump saying, “What do we live for, if not to make life less difficult for each other?” Me neither.
    Speaking of Trump, it appears that Kasich winning Ohio will leave The Donald short of the number of delegates he’ll need to win the Republican nomination going into the GOP convention four months from now. Look for a lot of fireworks in Cleveland in July.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. inesephoto says:

    Thank you so much for this post! I remember these movies very well! France and Italy have a whole constellation of brilliant movie directors.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. mistermuse says:

    You’re most welcome! Some movies are so “right” and have a certain magic about them which makes them so unique, you never forget them. RIO, and especially KING OF HEARTS, are two such films.

    Like

  11. Don Frankel says:

    “A toddling little girl…” Great quote. I never heard it before. I did have to read Silas Marner in high school. Maybe this makes up for it. Funny though we both used the Ides of March this week which could mean great minds think alike or well it was the Ides of March were in the offing.

    Like

  12. mistermuse says:

    “A toddling little girl” can melt the heart of any man (whose heart is capable of being melted). Come to think of it, a big girl can do pretty much the same. 🙂

    Usually at this time of year I do a St. Patrick’s Day post, but this year a little green man by the name of Leprechaun told me my Irish Stout jokes were getting stale, hence the ides of March instead. Nonetheless, I wish you a very happy (& not too tipsy) St. Patrick’s Day tomorrow, Don.

    Like

  13. Mél@nie says:

    wow, “l’homme de Rio”…”o tempora, o mores!” btw, Jean-Paul Belmondo is 83!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. mistermuse says:

    Glad to hear Belmondo is still with us. I notice that Philippe de Broca would also be 83 if he were still alive.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Don Frankel says:

    Happy St Patrick’s to you too Muse. I didn’t have a drink but I certainly enjoyed the day. It’s a very special day here in New York.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. restlessjo says:

    Thanks for reminding me that I haven’t read it either. I really should. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Sharron says:

    Your posts are so “different”. I’m learning a lot. Loved the photos and song from Zarah. I had never heard of her. Thank you for the introduction.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. mistermuse says:

    I appreciate that, Sharron. You are kind and gracious….which is wonderfully different than “kind OF gracious” by a (s)mile! 🙂

    Like

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