Monday, September 30, 2019

And So - Victoria and why it was never filmed

Visiting Vaughan Wilkins' grave in Farnsfield I mentioned that his first historical novel And So - Victoria, a success on both sides of the Atlantic when it came out in 1937, was never filmed.

In his memoirs the British film producer and director Victor Saville gave one explanation:
And So Victoria, as the title indicates, was set in the period before Victoria came to the throne. A fascinating yarn about her Uncles Cumberland and Brunswick attempting to prevent her accession - the wicked uncles, always a popular them in British history. 
I put Hugh Walpole to work on the screenplay, but, unhappily, he never got to grips with it. I admired Walpole the novelist - The Cathedral still holds vivid memories for me - but, alas, he was most unsure of himself as a dramatist. He was a delightful man to work with but a hell of a snob. Perhaps that is why the royal story fascinated him. 
I got nowhere rapidly and I was forced to put the project on one side. The war prevented production of this scale of picture, so the rights remain alongside many others in the vast accumulation in MGM's library.
Jeffrey Richards, however, tells a different story. Both MGM and Warner Bros wanted to film the novel, but they fell foul of Colonel Hanna, the Lord Chamberlain, who wrote:
The morals and manners of all classes of society were slack and crude; the language was coarse and very outspoken. Incest was quite an every day occurrence. If the intention is to show up the evil lives that were lived by our Royal Family in those days, then I have no hesitation in saying that I think it would be most undesirable and probably prohibitive.
Quite how Walpole or anyone else would have condensed this weighty novel's plot into a feature film I can't imagine.

But if the BBC could rescue the rights from the vaults of MGM, or wherever they now reside, it would be a natural for the Poldark Sunday evening slot.

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