Armand Jean du PlessisSaturday, June 16, 2007
I pointed at the purple Gallica in my garden and told Rebecca yesterday that it was Rosa 'Cardinal de Richelieu'. Her answering question, "Who was he? Is he dead?" means that this afternoon Lauren, Rebecca and I are going to watch George Sidney's 1948 The Three Musketeers. In spite of everything that has been said and written about the sophistication of director Richard Lester's subsequent versions of the Alexandre Dumas novels, this Technicolor Hollywood production is my fave.
Nobody could possibly out do Vincent Price as the villanous cardinal (made villanous by Dumas). Gene Kelly is a delight as the handsome young fourth musketeer. But the treasure of this film is Lana Turner as Milady. I would affirm that if there is no protagonist in literature with fewer redeeming qualities than Milady. I would have to search in Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian for a an equal match. Lana Turner plays the role so well that in the end (I was 10 when I saw this film) I almost cheered as I imagined her head being chopped off by the Executioner of Lyon. Lana Turner was never more beautiful. As much as the bra was one of many anachronisms of the film, I don't think an anachronism was ever better served.
This purple Gallica (with an extremely sweet old rose scent) in my garden was hybridized in 1840, 200 years after the Cardinal's death. There are conflicting opinions if M. Laffay of Bellevue, France or the Dutchman Van Sian should get the credit for this rose that sometimes gets so close to being blue as it fades with age. In my scan here you can see a spent bloom on the bottom right.
That a rose, like so many others steeped in history, can help to make a Saturday with my granddaughters an excuse (with no guilt) for such fun as sitting down to watch one of my favourite films, has to be all the rationale needed to grow them.