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Leo McKern as Rumpole


slaytonf
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On YouTube. Dozens of Rumpole of the Bailey episodes. No, no, wait! Before you recoil from the suggestion, let me say they are bracketed and interleaved with commercials, so the copyright gods have been propitiated (you can even skip them after six seconds--but hurry, there's no telling how long that will last). Of course, there is lacking the piquancy derived by watching something that is posted in violation of the norms of society. But forget about that. Now you can revel in hour upon hour of Rumpole as he engages in his epic crusade for the Golden Thread of English Law. See him menaced by the giant ogre judges, that grind the bones of defendants for their bread. Watch him as he confounds the wily and deceptive agents of the prosecution, and does battle with representatives of the constabulary, ably assisted by his faithful compatriots, the Timsons. Revel with him as he seeks refuge from the woes of the world in his favourite public house with glass after glass of Chateau Thames Embankment. Go with him into the dark wilderness of his chambers, where hobgoblins and trolls wait to ambush him and steal his office. But most fearful of all, he must face the terrible Hilda, Queen of the Hearthrug, who rules with a mighty iron frown.

 

Leo McKern displays his surpassing acting ability bringing to life the rumpled, irascible barrister, who only pleads for the defense, and never pleads guilty. He is a large man, a girthy man, yet for all that, he executes his performance nimbly, as he by turns wades, strides, and manoeuvers his way through cases to victory. As imposing as his stature is his voice, which can boom out as he rakes a careless investigator over the coals in court, or soar to empyrean heights reciting Wordsworth--oh, to have seen him do Lear!

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What an actor was McKern, and with what a voice! I never missed an episode of Rumpole. I never failed to pick him out in a movie even when he was young and reasonably good-looking. (That seems hard to believe, doesn't it? But he was.) I always found him vile and horrible when he wanted me to, and never confused him with his part. An amazing performer.

 

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!

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My wife and I spent the last two evenings watching our Rumpole DVDs, and even though we've seen all of the episodes numerous times, we always enjoy them. Leo McKern is perfect as Rumpole - to the point that I can't imagine any other actor playing the role (unlike Holmes, who has been successfully portrayed by numerous actors). Part of it, of course, is that McKern played Rumpole at the same time that author John Mortimer was publishing the stories - so when I read the stories, which are also excellent, I imagine the actors from the TV programs.

 

It's kind of a shame that there are a few more Rumpole stories that were never produced as TV programs, because Mortimer kept writing after McKern retired and then died. Of course, I'm not complaining that there are more written stories about Rumpole!

 

I started watching the Rumpole shows when PBS first started showing them on "Mystery!" in the early 80s, and they're still as fresh as ever when I see them now.

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