Yesterday’s New York Times mentioned a new Judi Dench gem: The Judi Dench Collection, a DVD set of performances that aired on the BBC between 1961 and 1991 (plus interviews and radio plays). Over 20 hours of Dench deliciousness? I’m in.
The article asks, "What makes this short, gently-rounded, pixie-faced woman so compelling?" It’s a reasonable question. For me, I think it comes down to intensity — what’s more arresting than a Dench stare?
Plus there’s the intelligence, which seems to come through in every role. It’s apparent in interviews, too, as the article notes:
[Interviewer Richard] Eyre posits that “a life in the theater is a difficult one.”
Ms. Dench gives a familiar, dismissive snort of laughter. “Try telling that to a welder,” she says.
Fair enough. But there must have been a few challenges in Dench’s career, because she has clearly risen to something.
On a related note, what ever happened to plays on TV? I feel so deprived without American Playhouse, which brought us the likes of Angela Lansbury in Sweeney Todd and Swoosie Kurtz in The House of Blue Leaves. Ah, well: There’s always Netflix, which offers a slew of Shakspeare, including (of course) Dench’s Shakespeare in Love.