Stiff Upper Lips Cast and Credits
As a highly distinguished stage and screen actress, Prunella Scales has played many characters counted as British national institutions-everyone from Queen Victoria to Sybil Fawlty of the famous Fawlty Towers. In Stiff Upper Lips, she takes on another plum role-that of Aunt Agnes, the archetypal maiden aunt. "She's very anxious for her niece Emily to marry Mr. Trilling as so as possible. Having failed to get Emily off with her nephew's Cambridge friend, she takes them all on a trip to Italy. Subsequently finding that Italy is much too foreign, she says 'Let's go somewhere more English,' and off they go to India where she meets Cedric's great uncle Horace, with whom she falls madly in love."
In Stiff Upper Lips, Georgina Cates plays the role of Emily, a young woman repressed by Edwardian conventions. "She is trying very hard to be a proper period girl," says Georgiana, "but she really isn't one. The problem is she doesn't want to just hold hands and be very proper and drink tea. . . I can't imagine her being a very easy person to please. She is getting a bit desperate-or rather Aunt Agnes is. Cedric is a last resort in every way."
The scion of the Timothy West/Prunella Scales acting dynasty, Samuel West plays Edward, scion of the Ivory aristocratic dynasty. In the words of the actor, Edward, "is blessed with the brains of a cabbage." Edward may be dim, but West took pains to make him plausible. "We must care enough about him not to want to see him die in a gardening accident," says West. "He can't just be an upperclass twit; he has to be goodhearted and we have to believe his feelings."
Robert takes on the role of Cedric Trilling, Edward's repressed chum from Cambridge who is given to great pomposity and endless quoting from the works of Homer. "The title of the film sums him up entirely," says Portal. Having graduated from Lamda in 1991, he has worked consistently on stage at the Royal Shakespeare Company (Love's Labour's Lost, Venus Observed), and on British television (Julia Jekyll and Harriet Hyde, Bye Bye Baby). He has also won the Hobbs Radio Award.
One of England's most in-demand young actors, Sean Pertwee does a turn as George, the local rabbit catcher who becomes the Ivory's servant-and Emily's lover-after rescuing her from drowning. He has been featured in many recent hit movies (London Kills Me, Leon the Pig Farmer), on the small screen (Clarissa, The Changeling, Cadfael), and on stage at the Royal Shakespeare Company (Titus Andronicus, Hyde Park).
Sir Peter plays Cedric's great-uncle, a tea-plantation owner in India driven mad by the heat, the dust and his lust for Aunt Agnes. "I've met this sort of character so often in my life," says Ustinov. "I've longed to put them on screen. He's like an entertainment officer on board a troop ship in a howling gale, zigzagging across the Atlantic to avoid the Germans."
Frank admits that Sir Anthony Hopkins performance as Stevens in Merchant Ivory's Remains of the Day influenced his performance in one important respect: "I copied his flattened hairstyle." Their paths then diverged, although an on-set butler did advise Frank on, "which side to pour tea from and what time of day to wear a gray waistcoat rather than black."
Brian takes the role of Eric, a working-class rabbit skinner who knows his place and is proud of it. He is horrified by the prospect of his son, George, rising up the social ladder through his relationship with Emily.
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