Ronald Neame’s very lovely film of Muriel Spark’s THE PRIME OF MISS JEAN BRODIE is actually one of relatively few major movies to prominently feature Edinburgh locations. TRAINSPOTTING was shot mainly in Glasgow, so apart from the opening sequence you don’t get to enjoy sunny Leith and its slums. A shame, because there’s a subtle difference in style of bad area from one city to another, although the social problems don’t vary that much.
The Neame film is another kettle of fish: while there’s certainly a dark side to it, the surroundings are more on the charming, “genteel” side, which is in keeping with the reputation Edinburgh inexplicably has. Also inexplicable: the fact that so few films come here when you can still achieve a shot like the one above: just say “1932” or whatever and choose your angle carefully and you can pretend it’s any period you like. The distance from London and the lack of studio facilities are the only two explanations possible, but they seem inadequate to account for Edinburgh’s cinematic neglect.
Maggie Smith’s accent, or “eccent,” which she’s still getting good mileage out of in HARRY POTTER, and which others, such as John Hurt in ROB ROY, have taken off the peg and deployed from time to time, doesn’t correspond to any accent I’ve ever actually encountered in my life. But it seems to have some kind of historical existence as a mode of speech favoured by the blue-rinsed old ladies of Morningside, who would have been schoolgirls in 1932, so I guess it’s authentic.
And it has given rise to the following “joke”. Not quite sure it’ll work in print though, unless you read it aloud and do the voice.
A schoolteacher in Morningside addresses her class: “Cless, I em going to name some cepital cities, and I want you to tell me which countries they ere in. Peris.”
“Frence,” chant the class.
“Spain,” chant the class.
And they all get up.
Think I can probably squeeze a few more posts out of this movie’s scenery. US buyers can get the DVD here:
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie