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Topsy Turvy: Japanese No! Japanese Yes!

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Published on Feb 1, 2008

My favorite scene from Mike Leigh's "Topsy-Turvy"

1885. Gilbert and Sullivan are in rehearsals for the Mikado, when Gilbert (Jim Broadbent) invites four Japanese guests from a traveling exhibit to watch the proceedings.

Watch for Andy ("my precious!") Serkis!

D'Auban's parting shot is "I haven't laughed so much since my tights caught fire in Harlequin Meets Itchity Witch and the Snitch."

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Comments • 42

CLASSICALFAN100
Sir William S. Gilbert died a hero at age 74 on May 29th, 1911. The circumstances are outlined in the excellent "W.S.Gilbert: His Life and Letters" by Rowland Grey and Sidney Dark.  The following is an eyewitness account by a Miss Winifred Emery: "Sir William Gilbert was teaching me how to swim, and he invited me and a pupil of mine to Grim's Dyke on May 29th. We met him at Harrow Station and motored to Grim's Dyke and went straight to the bathing pool. My pupil and I were in the water before Sir William had made an appearance. It was a very hot day, but the water struck as very cold. My pupil was a much better swimmer than I, and soon outdistanced me.  We were both unaware that the lake was deep further out, and presently she tried to touch bottom and found herself out of her depth. She shrieked out, "Oh, Miss Emery, I am drowning!" I called out to Sir William, who was on the steps, and he called out to her not to be frightened, and that he was coming. He swam out to her very quickly, and I heard him say, "Put your hands on my shoulders and don't struggle." This she did, but almost immediately she called out that he had sunk under her hand and had not come up. We both called to him, but got no answer. I tried to reach them, but soon got out of my depth and could do nothing but call for help. My pupil managed to struggle to the bank, and presently the gardener came and got out the boat, but it seemed a long time before they recovered the body." To which the author adds: "*SO DIED A VERY GALLANT GENTLEMAN!* Life was extinct before the arrival of Dr. Shackleton, and later Dr. Wilson; and Miss Costello, the nurse from Bushey Cottage Hospital [a favorite charity of Gilbert's] who performed the last duties, has mentioned that as there was no water in the lungs, the instantaneous death was not due to drowning. [Miss Emery's] statement shows it to be indubitable that [Gilbert] acted on the certainty that he was answering a cry for help from one in urgent need. It was a splendid death for a man of seventy-four, still active and determined, of high courage, impatient of [his own] physical suffering [and] fearful, above all, of mental decay; a far better end, indeed, than months of lingering illness." ***************************************************************************************************
Ty Nash
I love this film, and I have it too. I watch it at least once a year. Lots of people have tried to reproduce 'Three Little Maids' on stage, but nothing compares or even comes even close to this. These girls nail it. I love Timothy Spall's performance singing some song about the Emperor and the daughter-in-law elect. He nails it.
Philip Kreyche
I haven't laughed so hard since me pants caught fire in Harlequin Meets Itchity-Switch in the Niche.
Gogiggs64
Jim Broadbent's performance in this film is one of my favorite lead performances in a film ever.
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John Erwin
a 'great' scene from the movie.  Also, the 2 actresses in their dressing room, conversing w/ each other another scene i enjoyed. Thanx again fr th posts from the movie!
vocalissimo1
My favourite scene too.
andrea22213
Ahh The marvellous Dorothy Atkinson as Miss Jessie Bond. Magnificent
John Erwin
One of my few ALL TIME FAVORITE films.  Thanks for the post!!  :)
GeorgeMonet
But didn't he tell Leelee that this was just low burlesque on the river Thames during the dressing room scene? So is it an original Japanese Opera or low burlesque on the river Thames?
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Karine Budaghova
And mine! 
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