iOS app Android app More

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
GET UPDATES FROM Liz Smith
 

'Hysteria' Grips Hugh Dancy, Maggie Gyllenhaal And Rupert Everett!

Posted: 05/17/2012 8:20 am

"WHEN A match has equal partners, then I fear not," wrote Aeschylus.

  • REMEMBER YOU read it here first, or maybe you already knew it because there is plenty of buzz! My very good friend, the bandleader Peter Duchin, and the woman of his dreams, Virginia Çoleman, are getting married over Memorial Day weekend at the home of Kathy and Bill Rayner in East Hampton.

    No, we are not all invited! But more power to them. I couldn't live without Mr. Duchin who is a "Living Landmark" and always helps make the New York Landmarks Conservancy event each year a big hit. He will play with anyone who think they'd like to sing. You could jot down Nov. 8 in your book because that's the night you'll find me with Mr. Duchin at the Plaza Hotel doing our stuff.

    I want to wish Peter and Virginia every happiness.

  • MONDAY night I have to miss celebrating the legend Jimmy Nederlander, Sr.'s happy 90th birthday. This iconic creator of the Nederlander theaters will have stars lifting a glass to him in the Minskoff Lobby from 4 to 6 p.m. His beloved Jimmy, Jr...Margo...Kathleen and James will host for cocktails.


    The reason I can't go is I'll be at jazz@lincolncenter trying to corral a lot of generous people who are supporting Literacy Partners. We attempt to teach adult New Yorkers how to read and write at the 5th grade level. But I will definitely celebrate with Jimmy, Sr. next November as he will then be made into a "Living Landmark" at the Plaza Hotel. Liza Minnelli is one of the big stars, along with Jimmy, of that night because she too is getting the Landmark treatment.

  • I made it a little late to my friend Peter Harron's show of photographs at the Chester Gallery in the delightful little town of Chester, Connecticut. (If you drop into the popular River Inn here, you might run into a famous person like Morley Safer of "60 Minutes.")

    If you happen to be trailing around in the Connecticut River Valley, you, too, can see Peter's
    ongoing work behind the camera. The lensman is a native of both Connecticut and Bermuda, where his family reigned supreme after the island's discovery by the British way back when. Peter's photographs range from smashed boats at rest to the sandy dunes of Morocco to a set of fetching urinals, set into a wall like modern sculpture. You have until June 6 to see these at 76 Main Street in Chester.

    Peter is wed to Colette Harron who gave Connecticut her own cachet when she sold Kate Hepburn's famous house at Fenwick on Long Island Sound for a whopping amount of money. She has been in demand at Wm. Pitt Sotheby's in Essex ever since.

  • PEGGY SIEGAL put together a hot New York crowd for a special screening of Tanya Wexler's movie, "Hysteria." This is the true (more or less) tale of how the vibrator was accidentally invented, at the end of the 19th century, to treat women's "hysteria." That word was used to describe any woman who did not conform, was restless, unhappy with her station, and but of course--though nobody said it--sexually unfulfilled. The movie, despite its seemingly salacious subject, is completely charming and amusing. Hugh Dancy stars as a dedicated young physician who is "pressed" into service, manually massaging hysterical London ladies. His mentor in this lucrative profession is Jonathan Pryce--who also happens to have a luscious, seemingly pliant daughter, played by Felicity Jones. While Dancy makes big bucks (and literally injures his hand) dispensing this calming therapy, he meets up with a spirited suffragette (Maggie Gyllenhaal) who runs a settlement house. She is the elder daughter of his mentor, but not at all pliant. She looks askance at Dancy's work.


    The script, written by Stephen and Jonah Lisa Dyer is witty. The film is beautifully photographed. Perhaps for some, there might be a few too many "massaging" scenes, but, that's what the movie is about, after all. The parade of frustrated matrons and maidens, including an opera singer who recovers her voice when she is properly "vibrated" is hilarious.

    Mr. Dancy is attractive and puppyish, Miss Gyllenhaal is strident, as her role demands. Their pairing is odd at first, but grows on you. Especially as Gyllenhaal plays her wiry, physically powerful feminist without a trace of sentiment. Not even when she is in the dock, facing prison or commitment to a sanatorium and a forced hysterectomy. This is a comedy, but it does touch on the serious issues of women's subjugation in Victorian England.

    I have saved the best for last. Rupert Everett. He plays Dancy's rather louche best friend, who tinkers with various mechanical and electrical oddities. He is fascinated with that newfangled thing, the telephone. (Everett's character turns out to be the real, if unintentional, hero and salvation for all those testy women.) Rupert, who is not immediately recognizable behind a full beard, steals every single scene. He can convey so much with a single "Really?" In the dictionary his photo should be right next to the word "droll." Rupert is such a wonderful actor and a great guy. I hope "Hysteria" heightens his profile again.

    Vibrators provided by Jimmyjane were handed out at the Hotel Chantelle after-party, even to the divine Angela Lansbury, who was an excellent sport about it.

    Peggy Siegal wore a black leather jacket with fearsome-looking metal balls all over it.

    But she seemed calmer than usual.

 
FOLLOW CELEBRITY