Malice Aforethought: Favorite historical hat moments

Research seminar today, so not up to much deep thinking about Mr. Armitage. I saw Malice Aforethought for the first time recently, and feel like any fans of historical headgear really get their money’s worth from Armitage in this piece. All the remarkable clothes in The Impressionists notwithstanding, the driving hat with goggles is probably my all time favorite unintentionally funny Armitage costume. To wit:

Ivy Ridgeway (Lucy Brown) and Bill Chatford (Richard Armitage) on a drive during the courtship that leads to their marriage in Malice Aforethought. Source: Richard Armitage Net

I felt like between the hat and the nose he looked like Gromit in that cap (and probably some people are thinking of Ricky Deeming, too). If Gromit were six foot two with eyes of blue, of course. That scene is probably Bill’s cuddliest moment in the whole piece. You can at least imagine he might smile.

Stolen pic of Wallace and Gromit, one of my favorite loving caricatures of the nostalgic moments of Britishness.

But we also have the Panama hat to create a very different impression:

Dr. Bickleigh (Ben Miller), Ivy (Lucy Brown) and Bill (Richard Armitage) at a garden party shortly before her marriage to Bill in Malice Aforethought. Bill looks good and he knows it. Source: Richard Armitage Net.

This is another fantastic example of the contrasting play of planes, lines and curves in his face. The straight brim of the hat draws attention by contrast to the projecting triangle of the nose, the perpendicular position of the period mustache, and the geometric features of the shirt collar and v-neck sweater; but we also have the beautiful curves of the crown of the hat, his jaw, his laughlines, the hair along his temples, his ears, etc. I really like Mr. Armitage in this picture even if Bill is a creep. In fact, he looks so beautifully snide throughout.

Bill Chatford (Richard Armitage) at tea as Doc Bickleigh tries to poison him in Malice Aforethought. Before the cosmetic dentistry on his lower incisors, so his teeth are still historically correct here. Source: Richard Armitage Net

Or shall we call him a “bit of a brooder”?

Bill Chatford (Richard Armitage) at tea after returning from Paris on his honeymoon, in Malice Aforethought. Don’t call this man “honey”! Source: Richard Armitage Net

Oops, I’m getting off track. Just want to mention this final hat, too, which presumably Bill bought in Paris:

Bill Chatford (Richard Armitage) chases his now-wife, Ivy, after concluding that she had a premarital affair with Doc Bickleigh in Malice Aforethought. My cap. Love how the hat sits straight across the brow.

For me the real mystery in Malice Aforethought was why every woman in that village was chasing after Doc Bickleigh. I know, I know, shortage of men in rural areas after WWI due to the high casualty rate in the trenches. But still.

~ by Servetus on September 13, 2010.

52 Responses to “Malice Aforethought: Favorite historical hat moments”

  1. I haven’t seen “Malice Aforethought,” but let me say I’m hoping against hope that Mr. Armitage will relish the lighthearted comparison to Wallace. I love it — and now I’m hoping RA gets a dog and indulges in some minor home invention projects to encourage the likeness.

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  2. What kind of dog do you imagine? didion? Anyone?

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  3. Haven’t much time, but let me say I LOVE Wallace and Gromit!! I have an adorable Gromit mug Spouse gave me one year for Christmas . . . I think, knowing our lad’s sense of humour, he would be well chuffed at the ccmparison . . . and Bill is rockin’ the Panama hat very well, isn’t he?
    Love the “beautifully snide” description, darling. Spot on! (He’s pretty in his jammies, too)

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  4. I have not seen this one (bar a few clips on YT). Is it worth getting? There doesn’t seem to be a R2 DVD available.

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    • That’s so strange, although I read at Richard Armitage Online that it was broadcast in the US before it was in Britain.

      I think it’s worth it if you like this genre — it’s a very stock British village crime story with the acting that goes along with that, i.e., an almost ironic dramatization of the manners and mores of the interwar period. A sort of second-best Agatha Christie. You can’t imagine people actually spoke to each other this way, but somehow it works. He’s got about five scenes. You do get to see him threaten his wife — and as violent anger makes a relatively rare appearance in the Armitage arsenal, it’s notable for that. And it’s a superb contrast to the role he played in North and South. I see that British amazon has it used for about 7.5 pounds — it’s probably worth that. But I wouldn’t say it’s essential.

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      • I really enjoyed it, but I do have a special spot in my heart for Christie-type cozies, having read so many as a kid. Lots of good actors in this and yes, RA’s performance stands apart from some of his other characters. (And I really, really like RA in that white v-necked sweater–oops, jumper for you Brit types).

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  5. The “but still” at the end says it all for me. thanks.

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    • You have to wonder about some of these characters’ good taste genes . . . when it comes to choosing blokes to dally with. *wink*

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    • Seriously, why not run after Chatford, even if he’s a creep? 🙂 Bickleigh is someone who seems to have no independent will or personality, but he becomes the object of 3 women’s attention?

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  6. Re: a dog for Richard: something big enough that he won’t trip over it. Probably a mutt/pound hound? It can stay in Leicester when he’s away…

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  7. I can see him with either a dalmatian or a grey hound.

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  8. The greyhounds I have known have been so needy. On the other hand, he’d always have someone around who’d want to go on a run with him!

    Actually, I kind of do see him as a guy who’d rescue a dog from the pound as opposed to getting a purebred.

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    • We had a wonderful mutt that simply showed up in our yard several years ago, a lean young lady with a golden coat and sunny personality we named Daisy. She could run nearly as fast as a greyhound and was a total dear. Sad to say, a neighbor found Daisy’s body on the side of the road one day–we assume she was struck and killed by a car. I could very easily envision Richard with a dog like sweet Daisy. And I am with you, Servetus–I think he’d be more likely to adopt a homeless dog.

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  9. Love the Panama Hat! You should send that picture to the Dick Heads website:
    “Got a picture of Richard Armitage’s head, preferably wearing a hat? Then leave a link to it below and if it’s judged suitable, it will appear in the “Dick Heads” gallery.”
    http://www.the-medium-is-not-enough.com/richard_armitage/
    They would love people to write a haiku about the picture too!

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  10. First off, I hate to make anyone feel envious but I must boast just a wee bit… I am the proud owner of a Wendolene keychain. Yes, yes, I know all of you sister W&G aficionados are probably prostrate with envy right now. Sorry ’bout that;-}

    As for Malice Aforethought, I’ve never seen the film… but I have noticed that I am simply unable to view our dear Mr. Armitage as anything other than a sympathetic character. My first exposure was in N&S, so I see shades of Mr. Thornton in whatever role he plays. We’re making our way through Robin Hood, and my daughter and I are totally hoping he gets the girl, lol. My son thinks Sir Guy is evil incarnate… us girls? We find him unbearably attractive and actually kinda cute.
    I think we must be hopeless cases.

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    • I won’t spoil the ending of RH for you, Diane, but I think the positive perception of Mr. Armitage has to do with his interest in / insistence on portraying dualism in his roles. His villains always have a spark of humanity, his heroes always a severe flaw.

      I don’t think you’re any more hopeless than anyone else here!

      (ps love Wendolene but the cheese allergy was really upsetting to me as a cheesehead)

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      • May I echo Servetus, Diane, and say stick with RH–Richard does an amazing job taking the evil henchman stereotype and turning it upside-down (the most popular portrayal of GoG ever on TV or film). As Servetus says, he tries to see the good in the bad guy, and the bad in the good guy, which gives his characters such a compelling and engaging quality.

        And, no, Diane, you are no more hopelessly besotted than the rest of us, darling. *grin*

        I also love Wendolene, but surely wish she could overcome the whole cheese allergy . . . *sigh* And I have a soft spot for that sinister penguin. And all those wonderful fluffy sheep. Oh, Nick Park is great!

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        • Yeah.. Wendolene really needs to get over her cheese aversion. Seriously. I mean, take some shots girl. Do what it takes! A cheese allergy is simply not acceptable to your fan base. Nuff said.

          ;-}

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      • Now see, this is why I love your blog… I never realized that Mr. Armitage insisted on that duality in his roles. I obviously recognized that he does play those kinds of conflicted, real sorts of characters, but knowing that he insists upon that sort of complexity makes me respect him even more. He really is quite the all ’round nifty fella, isn’t he?

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  11. @Diane “He really is quite the all ’round nifty fella, isn’t he?” No truer words have ever been spoken. So glad we are all drinking the same Kool Aid here.

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    • And it’s the blue Kool-Aid . . . in honor of his pretty blue eyes *giggle*

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      • It’s also just fun to say the word “nifty.”

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        • Oh, yes, and “nifty” is such a good word for Richard, because it’s kind of old-fashioned and slightly geeky to say “nifty,” and there is something wonderfully old-fashioned and a wee bit geeky about this fellow we love.

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          • Well, now I must say that I feel in good company here…. a bunch of gals who swoon along with me at the oh-so-nifty object of our adoration. And yes, he is “wonderfully old fashioned and just a wee bit geeky” about the dear RA♥

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            • He is so swoon-worthy,Diane, beyond his good looks and charm and talent. I truly believe Richard Armitage is a good guy and I admire and appreciate his strong work ethic, his professionalism, and his wonderful groundedness. And those good manners–very important to a southern girl like me. You are indeed in good company!

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          • So THAT’S what it is I like! The Geekiness? All righty then — now I know! LOL Very nifty indeed!

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            • *grin* It’s that coltishness that we still get a glimpse of beneath that elegant, urbane facade; those big grins and slightly silly laughs; his professed love for DIY and those stacks of books by his bed; that rather endearing lack of fashion sense and his total bemusement over being found so danged sexy–*swoon* Voila! The Perfect Geek. For the Thinking Woman . . .

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  12. […] are the lives — his and mine — of geeks. Yes, in answer to the question your eyes ask as they widen when you walk […]

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  13. The Perect Geek for the Thinking Woman” – LOVE it!! MUCH better than “crumpet”, or whatever the male equivalent is.. 😀

    The colt factor and the not always perfectly fitting clothes are appealing, too. (Though if he’s remaining at JP level for the nonce, perhaps a shirt or two that button across the chest? Ah, who cares?!)

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    • Glad you liked! *grin*
      He was in wonderful Harry Kennedyesque form on the telly this morning on Lorraine Kelly’s show. . . hair flopping entrancingly over his brow, clean-shaven and looking ridiculously young and handsome, hands tucked in the front pocket of his jeans (those long, long legs!) sweet, modest, unassuming and a total charmer, still looks muscular but quite lean; I think he’s lost some of the JP level of musculature. Such a chameleon, our lad.

      Mind you, Lorraine’s fill-in was annoyingly chatty and asked him about the bloody circus (how sick of that question is he, I wonder?) and struck me as one more of those interviewers distressingly unprepared to conduct an interview with The Perfect Geek for the Thinking Woman. And I thought the chef in the cooking segment wanted to throttle her. However, seeing Richard suck food off his long, elegant fingers and chop up veggies with those lovely hands made it all worth it. *sigh*

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      • I gave in and watched the cooking segment today because Natalie featured it on her blog. She [the program host] was terrible. He was SO quiet.

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        • Yes, Myleene was like a bloody mosquito, buzzing about all over the place, begging to be given a good swat. How needy for attention is she? Richard, as always, was charming (when he got the occasional word in) and the perfect gentleman. Now we know he likes hot foods *grin*

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          • I wrote over by Natalie that now we know there is no obstacle to him moving to Texas, if he likes things with hot chiles. 🙂 [ETA: and fresh coriander, which we call “cilantro” over here. Man who licks the cilantro off his fingers. Yum.]

            I wondered, while I was watching that, how typical that behavior is of his off-screen behavior, and if that’s why people think he’s aloof. He had nothing to say, he tried to stay out of the way of the cook who was being featured, she kept trying to pull him in with odd remarks … and he was quiet.

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            • Yes, and we know he looks good on horseback, so we could get that whole cowboy thing going for him, couldn’t we? *wink*

              You know, RA has mentioned before he would never do reality TV, that you would never seem him as “Richard Armitage” rather than as one of his characters, or, as he does so well in these pre-show launch interviews, discussing his character and the show.

              I don’t think he’s particularly comfortable in those kinds of situations because he is basically shy.

              Heaven knows, I discovered inadvertently some people once thought I was aloof and “stuck up” when the truth was I was shy and uncertain in certain social situations–and rather than saying the wrong thing, I would say very little. I just smiled and observed.

              (I’ve improved a lot, but then I am about to turn–cough, choke-50, so I’ve had time to practice. And being a journalist has sort of forced me out of some of that).

              Richard is a rather rare thing in an actor, I would imagine–he doesn’t seem to always seek to be the center of attention. This was the chef’s spot–he was letting him take the spotlight, or trying to, although silly Myleene was trying to drag him into the thick of things.

              I would love to see him do more stuff where he is just himself–not reality TV, but be the “Star in a Reasonably Priced Car” on Top Gear (there is a precedent. Rupert and Peter from Spooks have both done it) or go on Graham Norton’s show (the guy who hosted the BAFTAs this year) . . . but I’m doubting he will.

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        • I thought that Myleene was an airhead AND somewhat bedazzled by RA. There was a momentary flicker of fear in his eyes when she announced that she had “oops” dropped her notes and they could then chat for “hours”. I thought he was adorable in the interview and the cooking segment, sweet, quiet, a good sport, willing to chop and eat hot peppers. But, I also noticed that, as much s I would like to know the real RA a little better (although I am happy to some degree that I don’t) I think what we saw on Lorraine’s show was another character, promotional Richard (PR). Just like it is very easy to tell John Porter from Lucas North, so it is easy to tell PR from his other characters. I admire the man for protecting himself from the dark side of his growing fame and wish him a safe, happy existence.

          Final thought, kudos to Chef Richard for NOT swatting Myleene like the annoying gnat she was.

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          • If Myleene had been an American I would have called her a Valley Girl LOL I think poor Chef Richard, who seemed a very nice bloke, deserves some kind of reward if he’d been having to put up with Myleene all week—yeeeech!

            Richard is a private person and I respect that. I suspect it helps keep him sane in a rather insane sort of profession, bless him. And you’re right. Each of his characters clearly stands alone.

            They even look different in screencaps, setting aside differences in wardrobe and hair, etc. He’s quite amazing and I don’t think I will ever stop being intrigued by him as an actor and a human being. Oh, and yes, poor Richard did have a slight “deer caught in the headlights” look when Myleene was blathering away about chatting for hours . . . “Help! She has me cornered!!”

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          • I agree, total flicker of horror there.

            (Today since I saw 9.1 I started looking at some of the publicity for it.)

            I think we saw promotional Armitage in the first segment. I think in the second segment we saw him trying to fade out of the spotlight and getting caught. He reminded me of my little brother when he has to be somewhere but is being forced to be noticed: hunched posture, silent, doesn’t volunteer anything, etc.

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            • The cooking segment: he was trying to be a good sport but also trying to fold himself away, the hunch over (of course, he can hunch over my kitchen counter anytime) minimizing his presence.It seems to be unusual for him to hang out after the interview. I wonder why. Interestingly, 2 days after the RA interview on Lorraine Myleene announced she was pregnant again. Maybe that’s the source of the ditziness. I wish her well!

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  15. […] “Malice Aforethought: Favorite Historical Hat Moments.” September 13, 2010. Traffic to this post is generated mainly by searches relating to […]

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