This post is written in conjunction with the Summer Under the Stars Blogathon hosted by Sittin’ on a Backyard Fence and Scribe Hard on Film. Full listings for SUTS programming on Turner Classic Movies can be found HERE.
Maggie Smith has not always played crabby old Dowager Countesses, though she seems to be taking parts of that ilk these days. Although Maggie Smith and her best pal Judi Dench are often grouped in the same camp, having made so many films together over the years, Smith took many more parts in film comedy in the first decades of her career while Dench focused on Shakespearean theatre.
“My career is chequered. Then I think I got pigeon-holed in humour; Shakespeare is not my thing.”
While younger audiences might only recognize her as the stern Professor McGonagal, I will forever think of her as the eccentric Aunt Augusta from TRAVELS WITH MY AUNT (1972) or as the incompetent secretary in HOT MILLIONS (1968). If you didn’t know it, Dame Maggie Smith is probably the funniest woman on the planet. She was even on “The Carol Burnett Show”! (Dig those pant suits)
Did you know…?
You probably did know that her full first name is “Margaret,” but I just thought I’d point that out again. 😀
Maggie Smith has older twin brothers, both of whom are architects.
While filming DEATH ON THE NILE (1978), Smith shared a dressing room with Bette Davis and Angela Landsbury – can you imagine!?
She’s a huge fan of Jane Austen.
Judi Dench and Maggie Smith have worked together on four films: A ROOM WITH A VIEW (1985), TEA WITH MUSSOLINI (1999), LADIES IN LAVENDER (2005), and THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL (2011).
“Jude [Judi Dench] is the most incredibly level person. Generous, understanding. All the things I’d have to work very hard at, Jude is like that all the time. I would love to be like that. And working with Jude you have to try to remember that you ought to be like that.”
“I like the ephemeral thing about theatre; every performance is like a ghost – it’s there and then it’s gone.”
“It’s true I don’t tolerate fools but then they don’t tolerate me, so I am spiky. Maybe that’s why I’m quite good at playing spiky elderly ladies.”
“One went to school, one wanted to act, one started to act, and one’s still acting.”
“Theatre director: a person engaged by the management to conceal the fact that the players cannot act.”
Maggie Smith Must-See: THE PRIME OF MISS JEAN BRODIE (1969)
Maggie Smith won the Oscar for her portrayal of the Scottish school teacher who inspired her girls in many directions, some more morally sound than others. When her job is in jeopardy, she turns to her loyal pupils, most of whom support her, but one of whom would like nothing better than to see her fail.
“Safety does not come first. Goodness, truth, and beauty come first.”
“For those who like that sort of thing, that is the sort of thing they like.”
“Little girls! I am in the business of putting old heads on young shoulders, and all my pupils are the creme de la creme. Give me a girl at an impressionable age and she is mine for life.”
“Now Jenny, do us a cartwheel for comic relief.”
“‘Dear Miss Brodie, I hope it will be convenient for you to see me in my office this afternoon at 4:15. Emily Mackay.’ Four fifteen. Not four, not four thirty, but four fifteen. Hm. She thinks to intimidate me by the use of quarter hours?”
“Assassin! Assassin!” (Miss Brodie’s final lines)
Other Maggie Smith movies I can highly recommend are TRAVELS WITH MY AUNT (1972), OTHELLO (1965), MURDER BY DEATH (1976), and CALIFORNIA SUITE (1978). The others mentioned in this post are also excellent, as are the many films Smith has made in more recent years. I would love to hear who your personal favorite Maggie Smith characters are!