“Florence Foster Jenkins,” starring Meryl Streep, takes place in the 1940s, but it speaks volumes about the current times in which we live. The events in Florence Foster Jenkins’ life could be compared to the classic fable, “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” Critic Earl Wilson (Christian McKay) is to Jenkins what the child is to the Emperor—at the expense of honesty both the Emperor and Jenkins suffered a rude awakening . The child exclaimed, “the Emperor isn’t wearing any clothes,” and Wilson said Jenkins’ screeching left a ringing in the ears.
Jenkins, a well-liked rich socialite who couldn’t sing, passed herself off as an opera singer and performed at Carnegie Hall. She even made a recording that was played on the radio. Money and power in any era still sway weak minded individuals and profiteers, but as the saying goes, “you can fool some of the people all the time, all the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all the people all the time.”
Hugh Grant stars as Jenkins’ husband and enabler St. Clair Bayfield and Simon Helberg is Cosme McMoon, her accompanist. Based on a true story, Streep says she enjoyed bringing to the screen such a vivacious character. “She gave huge amounts of money away and she had a big dream [to play Carnegie Hall]. She was silly and wore ridiculous clothes,” she went on to say. “But she was happy and she enjoyed her life.”
Grant also enjoyed playing St. Clair Bayfield. “I liked and admired him,” Grant offered. “I dug deeper and read his diaries at Lincoln Center. He was one of the founders of Actors Equity.” “The Big Bang Theory’s” Helberg was in awe working with Streep… And Helberg was happy when he encountered someone who knew his character that filming was over. “He told me he wasn’t a good person and how badly he treated to his students. That information might’ve have skewed my performance.”
Syndicated Entertainment journalist Marie Moore reports on film and TV from her New York City base. Contact her at [email protected]
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