Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Hump Day Snotty: Maggie Smith

Due to the excessively steamy tues top ten yesterday, the usual wednesday feature "hump day hottie" is preempted to bring you a special one off. Hump Day Snotty. Does anyone convey rich and superior better than Dame Maggie Smith? Can anyone else manage the unobstructed view whilst staring down through their nasal cavities at insignifant whomever?

I think not.


Sure Judi Dench can do über bitch as well as anyone including Maggie. They have very similar antagonist obstacle roles in Pride & Prejudice (Dench) and Becoming Jane (Smith) but I prefer Maggie. Judi comes on so strong that it seems like she'll decimate her opponent once she gets a clear shot. Maggie, however...when she's in rich bitch mode, she's simply above it. You couldn't possibly rile her up enough for her to require your destruction. You don't exist.

To my mind Maggie Smith (and several other actors for that matter) are wasted as the impossibly bone-headed faculty of Hogwarts Academy in the Harry Potter franchise. How is it that all these brilliant actors are asked to play characters who are invariably dumber than teenyboppers Harry and Hermione. The kids always figure things out first and best. I know that these pictures are formulas and good at their patented plot mixtures but more than anything I wish they'd let the grand thespians cut loose. How I'd love to see Maggie's Professor Minerva cut smarter-than-thou Hermione down to size with a withering stare followed by a hammering blow to the ego with the weapon being a witty and truthful jab.

I know we won't get to see that in a month when The Order of the Phoenix opens but for May and June, while the commercials play and the hype builds, I'll imagine the teachers taking the reigns for once.

17 comments:

Anna said...

"You couldn't possibly rile her up enough for her to require your destruction" - very, very good.

WhiplashWilli said...

Her quintessential performance has to be 'A Private Function', playing a piano teacher for untalented girls and suffering from the indignity of being married to a podiatrist, although she just knows she deserves to be an upper-class lady. I think she also won one of her BAFTAs for that one, and deservedly so.

crazycris said...

there should be some good moments for McGonagall to spread her wings in the new movie if they respect the novel... as she's supposed to face off with the scary Imelda Staunton as Umbridge! ;o)

and yeah, I prefer Dame Maggie to Dame Judi also! :o)

SusanP said...

The thing to keep in mind about the Harry Potter books, and the films by extension, is that everything is through Harry's eyes. I think the adults in the story achieve more depth as Harry matures.

That said, the first two films totally wasted the talent. The last two (especially Azkaban) have been much better. I think cris is right about Order of the Phoenix.

Anonymous said...

Maggie's great and all (and I agree about the defanging of the great Brit thespians that they cast in all of those "Harry Potter" films -- they might as well get Sally Kirkland if all they want is an old broad that spouts out a few lines to the gruesome threesome ever half-hour or so), but Dame Judi tops my book always. I salivate thinking about La Dench's awesomeness. Get another great film role pronto!

Middento said...

You want to see Maggie Smith as a fanged teacher in charge? Have you seen A Little Princess (directed, I might add, with AMAZING sureness and clarity by Alfonso Cuarón)? If you haven't, you really should. No, really.

John T said...

For me, she will eternally be Jean Brodie, one of the best performances I've ever seen committed to screen.

Anonymous said...

I've gone into palpatations over the Dench slight, but nonetheless, a warmly affectionate post. My defining Smith moment comes from Gosford: "Oh, none of us'll see it..."

Rob

Shaun said...

Nathaniel - I love Maggie Smith when she is in high society harridan mode. She steals every scene without the need to speak, but when she does...watch out:
"Green: such a difficult color". Beee-yotch. I also love it when she is not so rich, too, but still cavorts with superiority: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Evil Under the Sun, and A Private Function. Great depth and range...and what a hoot!

RahulB said...

You know...she's still a Hump Day Hottie for me. I'd hit that...hard. Judi Dench too...

Stephen G said...

Becoming Jane wanted so much to be Pride & Prejudice. A shame Maggie Smith and Julie Walters did BJ, they would both have been fab in P&P in place of Judi Dench and Brenda Blethyn (since they were essentially playing the same roles).

Beau said...

Darling kicked ass in 'Gosford Park'.

(and Middento, I think the film you're referring to is the '93 version of 'The Secret Garden', not Cuaron's 'A Little Princess'. Easy to get the two confused, they were both exemplary retellings of classic stories... but yes, I agree, she kicked ass in that film as well.)

Anonymous said...

Sometimes people don't realize that a lot of movies ARE BASED ON NOVELS. Like susanp says, everything is through Harry's eyes. So of course the adults will look dumb.

JS said...

What a coincidence!

Maggie is one of those actresses who can make the sound of your own name insulting.

Jake said...

I couldn't believe it when I read the fine print at the bottom of the newest Harry Potter poster, I think this HP now has more distinguighed-lookin British types than the real HP (House of Parliament) in London.

Sidenote: A friend of mine once served coffee to Judi Dench while working at a restaurant in Nova Scotia (she was doing "The Shipping News"), Judy said "Thank You" and my friend was SOOOO certain that she said something dreadful and mean to her that she went in the breakroom and started crying. There's something about her that just says mean. She's always miscast as the friendly eccentric grandmother type...

lylee said...

It was over 20 years ago, but both dames played down the fearsomeness very charmingly in "A Room With a View." Smith's character was still snotty in a middle-class way, I guess, but more maddening than withering. A great performance.

NATHANIEL R said...

Judi is actually great in that too

"observe my foresight. i never venture forth without my macintosh squares"

i think that's the line. anyway ~ hilarious.