Today is Archie Kennedy's birthday!!!!
Er, that is, today is actor Jamie Bamber's birthday, which is the same thing since he is the one who plays Archie.
Now, you may be thinking, who is this Archie Kennedy?
Archie--that is, Lieutenant Kennedy-- is Horatio's faithful friend and fellow midshipman (and later lieutenant) in the Horatio Hornblower series.
The Horatio Hornblower movies are my favorite period dramas of all time, which you probably already know if you've been reading my blog for any amount of time. They're sooooo amazing. I've seen all eight movies about seven times. It's kind of a tradition in my family to watch them every year around Easter, since it was at that time of year that my sisters and I first saw them (my parents had seen the movies on TV when they first came out in the '90s). Though all of the movies are wonderful and I love them all, the first six are most definitely the best, in my opinion, one of the main reasons being....yes, Archie Kennedy.
I'm in love. :-)
In the Horatio Hornblower books, Archie is only a very small, insignificant character in the first book, and that's it. C.S. Forrester didn't even name him Archie, he's just Midshipman Kennedy. (The books aren't anywhere NEAR as good as the movies are, friends. In fact, it's kind of sad. Horatio isn't the same at all, and even the stories aren't the same. So even though they didn't stick to the books, the screenwriters made the whole series MUCH better.) The character of Archie Kennedy in the movie series is completely the creation of the screenwriters' genius, but still refer to him as a "literary hero".
When Horatio first arrives on the Justinian at the very beginning of the first movie, Archie is the first person he meets and the first one to welcome him aboard. He's young and excited and perfectly adorable, and he seems to enjoy his duty of showing Horatio around the ship and enlightening him on all that's going on with the "Frogs", as the British sailors called the French.
Archie is my second-favorite literary hero, second only to Horatio himself. But in a way, I love him even more than Horatio. When I first saw the movies when I was eleven (and didn't care about them at first-- but that's a long story), my favorite character was immediately "the Kennedy guy". He was also my first literary crush (besides Joe Hardy from The Hardy Boys, who doesn't really count because I was only ten. :-P) I fell in love with him almost at first sight, and the more I was of him the more I loved him. He was brave, loyal and very handsome, but he also had a vulnerability about him that made him compassionate and even more dear.
Now, Archie is not perfect. Far from it. He has his issues, just like everyone else. He's not your typical heroic, dashing, Sir-Percy-type hero. In fact, if you only watch the first four Hornblower movies, it may seem like Archie is kind of a wimp. He's young, inexperienced, afraid, and in his own words, "a little prone to panic". (He's also an epileptic.) But the fact that he is afraid at first and then learns the meaning of courage only makes me love him more. He does have problems, yes, and some people might think he's not very strong. But I disagree. He and Horatio are very different, because Horatio is a "born leader" and is very capable and doesn't seem to be afraid of anything, and Archie is much more timid by nature and panicky about things. But Archie is very strong, because he overcomes his weaknesses. After being in a Spanish prison for months he's grown quite a bit tougher, but he's definitely at his best in The Mutiny and Retribution.
Man, I love this movie. :-)
The friendship between Archie and Horatio is absolutely adorable. They become friends almost at once, but it isn't until Archie goes missing and then is found in the very same Spanish prison where Horatio is taken to that they really start to become best friends. And that's also when things start to get really good. *rubs hands together* Not that things weren't really good all along, of course. :-P
This scene....OHHHH, THIS SCENE. This is one of my favorite scenes in the entire series. No, in all of cinema history. I cannot express with words how awesome it is.
The scene in Retribution when Archie dies is also one of my favorite scenes ever. It's so tragic, and yet it's so powerful. Archie's loyalty and his sacrifice for Horatio and everyone else on board the ship.....ohhhhhhh! *SOB*
"Nations need heroes, Mr. Hornblower. Heroes make us believe that the impossible is achievable."
"Only if one knows their name. Mr. Kennedy--"
"Mr. Kennedy took a calculated risk when he pushed Captain Sawyer down the hold, for the good of the ship and, in all likelihood, was right to do so."
"You think Mr. Kennedy was telling the truth?"
"I think Mr. Kennedy was a man of great loyalty, sir. He saw his duty and did it."
"And went to his grave without the merit of his good name."
"But you and I will not forget it."
"Goodbye, dear friend."
Happy Birthday, Archie!