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Friday, September 02, 2011

I Rekkin That's a Purdy Good 'Murkin Accent Ya Got Thar, Pardner.

Go to the Telegraph and be amused at the photo essay: "When British Accents Go Bad," a compendium of movies set in in the UK with non-Brits, mostly Americans, cast as British characters, and whose mangling of Blighty patois is rightly described as "cringe-worthy." The Telegraph's picks are spot-on (you might say). There is, however, a crying need for the logical sequel to this piece: "When American Accents Go Bad," which gives us examples non-Americans having a go at American accents, with equally egregious results.

There are oh-so-many possible nominations for the dubious honor roll but I offer just one, the BBC's adaptation of Anthony Trollope's "The Way We Live Now," which nicely illustrates British cinema's propensity for assuming all Americans speak in laughably bad southern accents, regardless whence in America the characters may hale, which in this case is Kansas (Mrs. Hurtle) and California (Hamilton K. Fisker). Neither of the actors playing the parts are British; Miranda Otto is Australian, Michael Riley is Canadian (and should know better). The absurd and amateurish accents they effect must have been at the behest of the series' director, David Yates. Well, yippee ki-yay, old chap!

Readers on both sides of the pond are encouraged to offer their own pain-inducing examples of bad American accents in British flicks.


Tim of Angle said...

Actually, a good instance of a Brit doing a credible American accent is Minnie Driver in GROSSE POINTE BLANK. And Bob Hoskins does a pretty good job in WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT and THE COTTON CLUB.

Bernard Brandt said...

I dunno, but the most cringe-worthy butchering of an American accent by a Brit, in my opinion, was when Benny Hill and his cast were doing a Texas country-western skit, complete with dialogue.


The young fogey said...

I remember in England so many people thinking Americans sound like caricatures of Southerners. Sort of like many Americans' tin ear for regional and class English accents, or why everybody in England on American TV sounds like either Prince Charles or Michael Caine cockney, sometimes even characters in the same family.

British actors seem to do a much better job faking American accents than the other way round. (Hugh Laurie as House.) So do many ordinary Brits. Makes sense since they've listened to American songs, movies and TV all their lives. Once saw a YouTube of two English teenage girls doing a very convincing Valley Girl impression.

Anyway, bad American accents by Brits: all I can think of is, and I'm not a Dr Who person, the pretty brunette who played one of his companions, Peri. I heard the obviously fake accent then saw in the credits her name was Nicola. Had to be. Sure enough.

A mention should be made of Loyd Grossman, the poor man who for all his good intentions still sounds like some tourist off the plane from Boston trying and failing to talk like Prince Charles. If you really want to try that, take speech lessons!

The thing is accent like language itself becomes much harder to change after you hit puberty. If you move, you may pick up or affect some local sounds but will never pass as a local.

The young fogey said...

Thought of a bad accent for you: Linus Roache (the lead in that stupid Priest agitprop movie) in 'Law & Order'. Fake Noo Yawk mixed with English English ended up sounding sort of Martian.