Wednesday, 14 December 2011

SOCIETY SNAPPER

A new exhibition at Chris Beetles Fine Photographyre-affirms the late Patrick (Lord) Lichfield was one of Britain's great photographers, with an uncanny knack for capturing striking images across the different classes from royalty to the common folk!

His seemingly unobserved snap of Charles Chaplin and Marlon Brando – Chaplin hand on heart, Brando, hand on Chaplin's arm...


...is as revealing of character as his self-consciously informal (and, ironically, unsympathetic) portrait of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor....


... and his study of a gloomy-looking Sunday morning speaker at Hyde Park Corner...


A few photos seem a tad too obviously staged, such as this one of Joanna Lumley (as, I assume, Purdy in The New Avengers) but even here Lichfield creates a fantastic effect with the sunlight through the leaves of the tree...


...while this portrait of Dirk Bogarde (glimpsed, smoking, through a haze of wine-bottles) seems more candid than knowing...


Two of my favourite images from this exhibition are a Gurkha soldier standing sentry duty outside St James's Palace in the snow....


....and Lichfield's snap of Elizabeth Taylor snapping Elizabeth the Queen Mother at a Garden Party. It is, I think, the world-weary look on the face of the passing waitress that makes it such a fantastic shot...


The exhibition, Patrick Lichfield: Perceptions can be viewed until 7 January 2011 at

Chris Beetles Fine Photographs, 3-5 Swallow Street, London, W1B 4DE, Tel: 020 7434 4319

Gallery opening times: Monday-Saturday, 10:00-17:30

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

All great fun. (In keeping with my long tradition of quibbling, I can't resist observing that Joanna Lumley's (New) Avengers role was Purdey - Emma Peel was the pre-damed Diana Rigg. Evidence of mis-spent youth!) (RGP)

Brian Sibley said...

Quite right, RGP, duly corrected! :)

scb said...

Fascinating photos! (Although I confess to an urge to tuck Her Majesty's skirt underneath her...)

P.S. Although your Dickens of a performance is over, the magic of your words remains, and I've just linked to three of your posts in this post on my writer blog: http://elizabethannewrites.com/2011/12/14/a-dickens-of-a-read-aloud-wednesday-worthies-december-14-2011/

Sacra said...

I love the photograph Chaplin-Brando, I wonder what they talking about... and I guess that the conversation would be before Brando said that Chaplin was a dictator.

scb said...

Thanks for visiting my writer-blog, Brian. Hope you'll visit again! That's where most of my blogging takes place these days, so it's far more lively (and more along your lines of interest, perhaps) than my SCB blog.

~~ Beth S.

SharonM said...

It looks like it'll be a fantastic exhibition. If only I had a Tardis-like vehicle that could instantly transport me to and from London whenever I wanted!

Brian Sibley said...

Sacra – Chaplin and Brando were at the premiere party for A Countess from Hong Kong at the Savoy Hotel, London, on 5 January, 1967.

Much later, in 1994, Brando did indeed describe Chaplin as a dictator, saying of his experience of working on Countess:

"...While we were making it I discovered that Chaplin was probably the most sadistic man I'd ever met. He was an egotistical tyrant and a penny-pincher. He harassed people when they were late, and scolded them unmercifully to work faster.

"Worst of all, he treated his son Sydney, who played my sidekick, cruelly. In front of everybody, he humiliated him constantly: 'Sydney, you're so stupid! Don't you have enough brains to know to place your hand on a doorknob? You know what a doorknob is, don't you? All you do is turn the knob, open the door and enter. Isn't that easy, Sydney?'

"Chaplin spoke to his son this way again and again... It was painful to watch.

"One day I arrived on the set about fifteen minutes late. I was in the wrong and shouldn't have been late, but it happened. In front of the whole cast Chaplin berated me, embarrassing me, telling me that I had no sense of professional ethics and that I was a disgrace to my profession."

Chaplin, on his side, said that working with Brando was simply "impossible".


SCB – Thanks, as always, for the links. I've added your writer-blog to my side-bar blog-roll! :)


SharonM – Yes, I know, and that would be lovely, but until the Doctor agrees to share that technology with non-Time Lords, you'll just have to use my blog as a time-machine! And all the Lichfield photos can be viewed on line at Chris Beetles Fine Photographs.

Sacra said...

Thank you Brian, I didn't know that Brando described Chaplin "methods" in 1994, I thought that it had been before... Geraldine Chaplin, who use to live in Spain (he was married with one of the most famous directors of spanish cinema) Geraldine spoke sometimes, in interviews, of the nature of his father, she usually describe him as a man little honest, irascible character, someone with whom coexistence was very difficult. And Claire Bloom said -somewhere- Chaplin, after all, was a Victorian man and their morale was a Victorian morality.

I remember an interview, in spanish media, with Geraldine Chaplin. The journalist asked: Don't you have fond chilhood memories of your father?, and she told: Well, on one occasion, when we lived in California (the weather in California resembles the Canary Islands), a winter's night he came to my room, to wake me, he took me in his arms and took me to the window: it was snowing.

scb said...

Thank you, Brian!