Tuesday, April 5, 2011

1937 Regency Movie - Quality Street

I rarely post about movies, but I just had to share about this darling little film. My dear friend Rebecca introduced me to the movie 'Quality Street' when I was visting recently, and I loved it so much that I have since obtained my own copy. It's a story that takes place in Regency England, and is almost like a combination of 'Cranford', and 'Persuasion' - quite charming! Katharine Hepburn stars as Pheobe Thrussle, and Franchot Tone as Captain Valentine Brown. Plot synopsis below (beware of spoilers!)

England, 1805. Young, spirited, but determined to be lady-like Pheobe Thrussle and her much older sister Susan live on Quality Street, a quaint, lovely little place inhabited by spinsters and gossips in ruffled white caps. As the story begins, Pheobe is all in a flutter because a special someone - the dashing Mr. Brown, has promised to call that afternoon with something particular to comunicate to her. She and her sister are positive that he is going to propose to Pheobe and are beside themselves with happiness.

It comes as a shock and a dissapointment that instead of proposing marriage, Mr. Brown instead announces he has enlisted and is off to fight Napoleon!! For ten long years he is gone to the war - in the meantime the Throssle sisters begin a school to support themselves, and Pheobe tries to be patient with her lot.

Finally, one day the troops come marching home and Captain Brown comes calling again, as dashing and handsome as ever. He finds Pheobe sadly changed, however, weary from long years of teaching school, and quite unattractive in her old-maid's cap. In fact, he doesn't even recognize her at first! Still, he asks to take her and her sister to the homecoming ball that night, but Pheobe insulted and saddend that he didn't know her and pleads to stay at home on account of a 'headache'.

After Captain Brown leaves she is overcome with melancoly and dresses up in one of her beautiful old ball gowns and does her hair in ringlets just as she used to, to prove to her sister and herself that she isn't as changed as he seemed to think. While this is going on, he suddenly returns to again ask them to the ball. Startled, he again does not recognize Pheobe, so they hurridly introduce her as 'Miss Livy', their neice who is visiting. Captain Brown seems infatuated by her beauty, and determined to have her revenge, Pheobe accompanies him to the ball, assuming the character of Miss Livy, a thoughtless, flirtatious, and merry young thing, and plans to spurn Captain Brown as 'too old' if given the opportunity....

Things get more hilarous and chaotic as 'Miss Livy' gains numerous admirers in a whirl of social activity, while Brown is left fuming in the shadows, and the sisters have to work hard to keep the local gossips from finding out that Miss Livy and Miss Pheobe are the same person.  Pheobe can't decide whether to be flattered that Brown still finds her beautiful in her disguise, or to be insulted that he seems to be suddenly enamoured of the reckless Miss Livy.

Things eventually work out in the end, as Captain Brown rejects Miss Livy as a heartless flirt, and returns to propose to Miss Pheobe, where he finds out all and both forgive each other for the past.

Highly recommended!

'Quality Street' is actually a stage-play from 1901 by J.M. Barrie!


Rebecca Jane said...

YAY! however...i'm very jealous you have a hard copy and i do not..... :(

Rachel and Sarah said...

Oh wow! This looks so cute! :) I love Cranford, *and* Persuasion. :) Aren't old movies the best? Thanks for sharing this one! I had never even heard of it- it's so fun to find movies that are great, but aren't run-of-the-mill, isn't it? ~Rachel

Steph said...

Looks truly delightful. Thanks for the recommendation! Is there a place to go to find movies like this? Our local movie stores are woefully limited.

Atlanta said...

I obtained my copy from half.com, it was an old VHS copy that we were able to transfer on DVD. You can also look for used copies on Amazon. (I've heard there is a DVD version out there somewhere, but I wasn't able to find one...)

Kellie said...

How delightful! Thanks for the recommendation - I'm looking forward to seeing this some day! Katherine Hepburn is such a dear.

The Scarlet Thread said...

We watched "Quality Street" several years ago, and it is a fun movie! I would love to watched it again. : )


Lilac Bud Gal said...

Almost anything with Katherine Hepburn has got to be good. :) The review sounded really neat, so I think we will definitely have to try to find a copy!! Thanks for sharing!

Love ya! Sarah

Starlie said...

This post really got me interested in seeing the movie (I'd never heard of it either) so I looked it up online and found that TCM is playing it on May 12th @ 2:00pm est. Yay! I'll be recording it so I can watch it!

Here's more info on the movie and schedule: http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/3167/Quality-Street/#

Thanks for posting, Atlanta, can't wait to see it!


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