George Canning Is My Son

By Julian Crowe

A new biography of the remarkable Mary Ann Hunn.

Monday, 20 April 2020

Publication delayed + 1915 film "Jane Shore"

I've been told by Unbound that the publication date for George Canning Is My Son has been pushed back to March 2021.  This is, of course, due to the disruption caused by the current epidemic. Disappointing but clearly understandable.  

To sugar the pill, let me draw attention to a treat available from the British Film Institute, in the form of Will Barker's 1915 film  Jane Shore, which is based loosely (very loosely) on Nicholas Rowe's tragedy of the same name, in which Mary Ann Canning made her debut at Drury Lane in 1773.  Like Rowe's play, the film bears little relation to the known facts of Jane Shore's life, as recorded in the Dictionary of National Biography entry for "Shore [née Lambert], Elizabeth [Jane] (1526/7?), Royal mistress". 

As the review in The Bioscope (25 March 1915) says, the story of Jane Shore provides little more than a connecting thread for scenes of "spectacular magnificence".  The publicity at the time claimed that the film had 250 scenes, 5,700 actors, with as many as 3,500 in one scene alone.  The shots of armies roaming across the countryside, of crowded city streets, and lavish scenes of feasting and dancing, are indeed very beautiful and technically impressive.  The final scene, in which Jane is pursued by a hostile crowd through the streets of London in the snow, is particularly powerful.

The Bioscope called Jane Shore a "spectacular triumph", and The Fifeshire Advertiser (29 May 1915) advertised it as "The finest film ever seen in Kirkcaldy".  The DNB entry for the producer Will Barker (1868-1951) says, however, "Sadly the resulting film failed to justify its reckless expenditure". 

To watch Jane Shore (free) go to the BFI website.

Thanks to my daughter's friend Lawrence for telling us about this gem.

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