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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: February ::
Re: Shakespeare in Love
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0282  Thursday, 18 February 1999.

[1]     From:   Peter Hyland <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 17 Feb 1999 09:40:58 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0275 Re: Shakespeare in Love

[2]     From:   Richard Dutton <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 17 Feb 1999 17:59:23 -0000
        Subj:   RE: SHK 10.0275 Re: Shakespeare in Love

[3]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 17 Feb 1999 14:05:51 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0275 Re: Shakespeare in Love


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Hyland <
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Date:           Wednesday, 17 Feb 1999 09:40:58 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 10.0275 Re: Shakespeare in Love
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0275 Re: Shakespeare in Love

I think the questions about the line "I had that Marlowe in the back of
my boat once" can easily be answered. It's an in-joke that will be
recognized by readers of the British satirical journal PRIVATE EYE, a
running joke in which a taxi driver (usually given a name like Ron
Mandelson or Mick Bonker) expresses his opinion about some current issue
that usually involves his view that hanging or flogging is too good for
someone, and always ends with "I had that Prince Charles [or Tom
Stoppard or Margaret Thatcher or anyone] in the back of my cab once" and
then usually breaks off at that point with "(cont. p. 94)". The double
entendre is always there; it is particularly appropriate for Marlowe,
and no doubt Stoppard thought so too.

Peter Hyland

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Richard Dutton <
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Date:           Wednesday, 17 Feb 1999 17:59:23 -0000
Subject: 10.0275 Re: Shakespeare in Love
Comment:        RE: SHK 10.0275 Re: Shakespeare in Love

I just wanted to weigh in, as someone who has only just managed to see
the film, and say what a marvelous achievement it is, wherever exactly
Stoppard and the others got their ideas from. Any script that actually
manages to introduce Edmund Tilney into a work of entertainment (and
then cast Simon Callow in the role) has my vote, even if they get the
workings of his office as Master of the Revels as gloriously wrong as
they do so many of the other 'historical' features of the story. I have
to agree that the line "I had that Marlowe in the back of my boat once"
is as Melissa Cook reports it: the analogies between Thames boats and
modern taxis only go so far, and I doubt if sex of any description would
be feasible unless you beached the boat altogether. I wondered about
another pun, however: Henslowe (of all people) repeatedly assuring
everyone that the final performance would work out all right (despite
all expectations to the contrary), saying 'It's a mystery'. Which I
think meant both that it was in the hands of forces beyond human
understanding, and that it was a 'mystery' in the old sense of a trade
or profession (as, strikingly, in 'mystery plays'). I think it's a long
time since any movie went to the Oscars with puns of that calibre
working for it.

        Cheers, Richard Dutton

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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Date:           Wednesday, 17 Feb 1999 14:05:51 -0500
Subject: 10.0275 Re: Shakespeare in Love
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0275 Re: Shakespeare in Love

Robin Hamilton wrote:

>>The point isn't whether Stoppard has a "right to be proud," but whether
>>credit was given where it was due, and more important to most of us than
>>credit, I suspect, points and royalties. As one who has suffered from a
>>similar ripoff, I hope the authors sock it to them, and sock it to them
>>good! What jury could ignore the obvious similarities between the two
>>stories. "Of no use," indeed!
>>Stephanie Hughes
>
>I sympathise and agree (but copyright in ideas as opposed to form of
>words is tricky-Larry?  Comment?), but No Bed For Bacon was published in
> 1941, so it may be technically out of copyright.

If it entered the public domain in UK, it is probably "out of copyright"
here too.  But I suspect that it isn't.  I do not believe (for reasons
too technical and boring to go into) that the copyright is likely to
have been allowed to expire in the US; and I think the term in the UK
was longer than the US term in 1941.

As for "ideas," Robin is correct.  The rubric is that ideas are not
copyrightable, but expressions of ideas are.  There is an occasional
issue as to where to draw the line.  So-called scenes d'affaires (such
as a car chase up and down the hills of San Francisco) are not
protected.  But there are a few cases (although I haven't seen a new one
in years) in which the appropriation of plot line, characterization and
incidents is so pronounced that the court finds an infringement.  The
case which comes to mind is the one in which Superman proved that he was
stronger than Captain Marvel (or at least had better lawyers).  I think
that there was evidence in that case that actual text was appropriated
in a few instances.  Captain Marvel has since come back to life, but
only because Superman bought him.
 

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