Anthony Higgins in 1980s
"We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance.
We err because this is more comfortable."
- Alexander Solzhenitsyn, novelist, Nobel laureate (1918-2008)
Lace is a two-part television miniseries based on a popular contemporary British novel by Shirley Conran published in 1982. The script is tightly written by Elliott Baker, who was nominated for an Emmy award in 1976 for an American tv film adaptation of John Osborne's play, "The Entertainer." Lace has been cleverly directed by Billy Hale, (Murder in Texas). The inspiring music by Nick Bicat is haunting and the costumes by Barbara Lane are very smart. It is worth watching as it has expansive travel cinematography, sumptuous art direction, many international character actors and a lot of panache.
Lace focuses on three glamorous self-absorbed women and an abandoned child who grows up with a revenge motive, occurring from the early 1960s to the early 1980s. It is feminist in that the women are not just men's ornaments but follow their own ideas about having careers.
Lace doesn't try to be anything other than escapist entertainment. It doesn't have much subtext except, perhaps, to say that parents should not lie to their daughters.
Anthony Higgins shines in the role of Abdullah.
Prince Abdullah errs in lust and in his ultimate romantic choice because he does what is more comfortable. He has been raised to exist in, and maintain at all costs, a high comfort level.
Higgins was in his mid-thirties when he performed in this work and is very vibrant in this role. He says he based his character on a Pakistani gentleman he played cricket with, who had impeccable manners. The moment the actor comes onscreen, the tone of the screenplay changes from cool to hot and the story then advances from bored adolescence to more mature intensity for all of its major characters.
Higgins' entrance, dressed in flowing white Arabian drag, is slightly reminiscent of Alec Guinness as Prince Feisal in Lawrence of Arabia. Like Feisal, Abdullah wears a burden on his shoulders of having to do what is best for his culture's conventions but, also like Feisal, he is full of dreams for future improvement. He is then photographed by the press and his face is reflected in a silver mirrored mail tray. He inhales the scent from a flower and enters a hotel in Chamonix with the grace of youth.
Higgins' character is as dark and mysterious as Rudolph Valentino and as kinetic as Errol Flynn in old films, dashing from saving adolescent girls in a runaway wagon to seducing a woman, to camel-riding and piloting his helicopter. Abdullah is intense and sweeps young Pagan, warmly played by Brooke Adams, off her feet. Their dialogue is quick and their courting seems convincing.
Prince Abdullah becomes King of Sydon (no relation to the actual town in Lebanon), conforms to an arranged marriage and then more complications ensure. He is often arrogant but whether Abdullah is being insensitive or wise, serious or witty, the actor makes him irresistible in his inimitable way.
Of the three women's lovers, Pagan's Abdullah is the most elegant and interesting. When he recognizes her at the Ascot Race, dashing in his grey morning dress, his face becomes absolutely luminous as opposed to the pasty dull British men with whom he has been conversing.
There is a fine dramatic moment when doors as massive as Ghiberti's Gates of Paradise open and Abdullah is sitting before his dead father's coffin. The picture-perfect closeup of his face reveals a grieving expression that also shows he is now thinking about his new responsibilities.
There are moments when a viewer might wonder-- but does he really care about Pagan or was it just an affair? This is answered by the way in which, after approximately twenty years have passed, he looks at her adoringly and then gazes at her departing car from high above inside the cockpit of his helicopter. For one instant, just before he makes a turn to go off in a different direction, there is a beautiful shot of his face with his eyes showing years of melancholy and deep regret for his loss. It's pure poetry.
written exclusively for
International Copyright 2012