From having an affair with Italian director Roberto Rossellini in 1950, to being denounced on the floor of Congress for her actions, which eventually culminated in winning an Oscar her role inAnastasia, Ingrid Bergman‘s later years are absolutely fascinating.
Spanning 26 years, this era of Bergman sums why she’s recognized as one of the greatest actresses of all time. Looking back, it may have been the peak of Ingrid’s career, but, if you rewind the clock to the beginning 1956, everything in Bergman’s life, both professionally and personally, was in shambles.
Wanting to work with Italian director Roberto Rossellini, Bergman mailed him a letter detailing how she was just dying to make a picture with him. Flattered and amused, Rossellini took the beautiful Swede up on her offer and together Ingrid and Roberto made Stromboli which was released a few months later.
That’s not the only thing they created together, however.
Coinciding with the release of the Stromboli was the birth of Bergman and Rossellini‘s love child son, Renato Roberto Ranaldo Giusto Giuseppe “Robin” Rossellini. The affair, naturally, caused a giant scandal in the United States, where Bergman ended up public enemy number one.
You see, when Hollywood typecasts you as the perpetual virgin, then you go out and have a child with a man who isn’t your husband, that’ll make A LOT of people angry.
The backlash and vitriol against Bergman got so hateful that for about 5 years, starting in late 1950, she stayed in Italy with her husband continuing the film career that she had lost in America.
Luckily for her, 1956 was the start of her comeback.
By the end of 1955, Rosellini and Bergman were divorced. After 3 kids and 6 years of marriage, they officially divorced in 1957, but, were separated for many years before that.
What would you do if your marriage was breaking down?
Throw yourself into your work, of course.
Released in 1956, Anastasia was the monumental comeback that Bergman was due for. Co-starring alongside Yul Brynner and Helen Hayes, the film was met with rave reviews from American audiences; the same audiences that cursed her name 5 years earlier.
The movie was so successful that Americans (and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) decided to give her a public apology by nominating her performance for an Oscar, which she would, subsequently, go on to win.
Her win in 1956, saw Bergman‘s name back in the hearts and minds of the American people.
It would only be until 1958, however, that Bergman would officially make her first public appearance presenting the Best Picture Oscar at the Academy Awards. Being introduced by Cary Grant, she received a standing ovation from the audience, which symbolized how much they forgave and missed her.
After this career resurgence, Bergman was on roll.
She continued to alternate her work between the United States and Europe while periodically sprinkling in the occasional TV appearance. During this time, she made fantastic filmsIndiscreet, Goodbye Again andThe Yellow Rolls- Royce.
Although this may be an impressive list of films, Bergman would further add to her success by winning ANOTHER Oscar for her role in Agatha Christie‘sMurder on the Orient Express. Ingrid was surprised that she was given the Award considering that her part was only a couple of minutes long.
Nevertheless, the Academy thought she was good enough to earn her second Oscar in the span of 20 years.
Unfortunately, after this picture, Bergman‘s acting roles steadily began to reduce as she got older.
In 1978, Bergman starred in her final cinematic role in the Ingmar Bergman‘s drama Autumn Sonata. The film was a triumph and for her performance, Bergman received her 7th and final Academy Award nomination.
In what would be her final acting role, Ingrid was cast as Golda Meir in the television miniseries about her life, appropriately named, A Woman Called Golda. Her performance once again was lauded, but, sadly Ingrid would pass away before she could receive her second Tony Award in 1983.
Ingrid Bergman was truly a Hollywood legend. Her life, memory, and contributions to cinema have not been forgotten. While she was alive her movies and charisma made her stand out from the typical actress of that time. Fresh-faced, and naturally beautiful, Bergman changed that way Hollywood saw women for the better.
Today, on what would’ve been her 103rd birthday, I look back at Ingrid’s career with joy and satisfaction. She was an incredible woman, and her legacy will be one that we look at in awe.
If you would like to read more entries in this blogathon click: here.
It’s a word that gets flung about carelessly, particularly in today’s heated political climate.
But, in this movie’s case, it’s used as a comedic plot device.
Starring William Powell, Myrna Loy, Jean Harlow and Spencer Tracy, Libeled Lady is a hilarious look at the newspaper industry and how they handle being sued for, you guessed it, libel.
The newspaper that has the unfortunate luck of being in this predicament belongs to a tough-talkin’, quick-witted editor named Warren Haggerty (played by Tracy) whose business is the focal point of the entire film.
Dubbed, “The New York Evening Star” the plot kicks off when a wealthy socialite named Connie Allenbury (played by Myrna Loy) sues the paper for running a story about her being a homewrecker. Asking for $5,000,000 dollars in damages, Mr. Haggerty spends day after day, tirelessly trying to get her to drop the charges.
Although Warren is exhausted from working his butt off to avoid being swindled for an absurd amount of money, he is more than content to continue to on this path he’s set for himself.
Well, the more he works, the more time he has to come up with an excuse to why he hasn’t proposed to his girlfriend Gladys Benton (played Jean Harlow.) Luckily for Gladys, Warren is running out of options – fast.
Desperately looking for a way out of this libel suit, he goes for the “nuclear option,” so to speak.
He phones the owner of the ‘Evening Star’ and requests to have him send in disgruntled former employee and ladies man Bill Chandler (played by William Powell) who could help him create a scheme so unbelievable that only a classic Hollywood movie can get away with.
Chandler’s plan is as follows:
Marry someone in name only; Warren volunteers his girlfriend who, begrudgingly accepts, only on the condition that Haggerty marries her after the whole ordeal.
Maneuver a way into Connie arms, where his “wife” would find them in a compromising position.
Lastly, force Connie to drop the suit because, you know, she’s cheating with a married man – that wouldn’t look too good in the papers, now would it?
After brainstorming for a couple of days, the plan is finally set in motion when Bill arranges to meet Connie and her father on an ocean liner returning to America, where he harasses them until he gets into their good graces, which ultimately sees Connie beginning to fall in love with him.
Taking a liking to this young man, Connie’s father J. B Allenbury (played Walter Connolly) invites Bill on a fishing trip for a little R&R.
“No big deal,” Bill says, “I can get through this.”
Except he doesn’t. His feelings for Connie grow – rapidly.
A conflict of interests has become apparent; what is a red-blooded male American supposed to do about this?
Call off the plan, of course!
The pair return to New York where their relationship begins to flourish. Connie isn’t the only woman who has been wooed by Bill’s suave nature, however. Gladys takes their fake marriage and decides she wants to turn into a real one. Unfortunately for her, Connie and Bill have gotten married already, and have gone on their honeymoon.
Warren hears about this and is, understandably, livid.
He decides that he wants to end the scheme and painstakingly seeks out the hotel room that Bill and Connie are staying at.
Warren barges into the room, only to find Bill and Connie doing what newlyweds would normally do on their wedding day- talking.
In true comedic fashion, Bill confesses to Warren that he’s told Connie everything, and he means everything. He goes on to explain that Gladys’ divorce from her first husband wasn’t valid, therefore her “marriage” to him wasn’t real. Gladys, on the other hand, won’t take no for an answer.
Gladys rebuts these claims, asserting that she got ANOTHER divorce later on in Reno and is truly married to Bill. Connie interjects herself into this conversation to tell Gladys that she only fell for Bill because he showed her a bit of kindness while her actual boyfriend didn’t.
Her words fall on deaf ears, and a fight breaks out between Bill and Warren.
During this commotion, Gladys realizes that Connie is right and rushes into the arms of Warren where they embrace.
The film ends when Connie’s father, Mr. Allenbury, finds his daughter in the hotel room and demands an explanation of what’s happening, wherein the four of them attempt to explain it to him all at once causing a massive uproar.
This film is an absolute joy to watch, It plays like a cool sip of water.
The acting is superb, the dialog is phenomenal and the chemistry between the four leads is palpable. Not only that but, to see the inner workings of a daily newspaper was a joy to observe- even if this movie was a comedy.
Libeled Lady is, in a lot of ways, a great film to pick for this blogathon. It’s entertaining, interesting and gives the audience a great glimpse at a professional setting. Yes, it may be a rather light-hearted film, and maybe not as serious as some of the other movies in this blogathon, but, I still believe it gives you the essence of what it’s like to be a newspaperman.
All in all, this film is a really exceptional one to experience. Harlow, Tracy, Powell, and Loy make a hilarious team to watch. If I have the chance to watch this picture again, I would! And I strongly suggest you do that same, you certainly won’t regret it.
If you want to read more entries in this blogathon, click: here.
If you look up the word,”thriller” in the dictionary this movie’s title would, surely, be right next to it.
Directed by Robert Siodmak and starring Dorothy McGuire, George Brent, and Ethel Barrymore The Spiral Staircaseis a psychological film noir thriller that tells the story of Helen McCord, a mute woman working as a helping hand in a New England mansion. Even though things appear to be going smoothly from the average citizen’s point of view, appearances aren’t everything.
I would love to expand upon that point, but……. I can’t.
When I normally review a movie for a blogathon, I usually plot out the synopsis of the entire film, hoping to give you a sense of what happened.
This time, it’s slightly different.
The Spiral Staircase is such a unique film, I don’t think it would be right to spoil it for you. Instead of writing a full-fledged summary, I’ll discuss the main plot points of the film, then I’ll explain why the acting performances are positively astonishing.
Starting off with Dorothy McGuire, her heartbreaking portrayal of Helen is phenomenal.
You see, the movie’s plot revolves around a string of murders that are happening around the town where this mansion is located.
These not your ordinary murders, however.
No, whoever is doing the killing is specifically targeting women with disabilities, “afflictions” as the movie calls them, such as the kind that Helen has.
To make matter worse, one night during a thunderstorm, completely alone and devoid of help except for Mrs. Warren, the bedridden women she’s taking care of (wonderfully played by Ethel Barrymore) she’s stalked around the mansion by a mysterious man whose identity I will not reveal.
Because of the horrifying circumstances I just described, throughout the film, McGuire is essentially required to only use her face to do the majority of the acting for her.
There were multiple moments in the movie where dialogue easily could’ve been shoehorned into the script but wasn’t needed because of McGuire‘s incredible ability to emote her face to reflect the mood of the scene.
Not only did Dorothy McGuire give us a serious master class in acting, Ethel Barrymore (one of the Barrymores this blogathon was inspired by) steals the show.
This is evident particularly at the climax of the film where tensions are high and the emotion is rampant. Barrymore‘s take on the deathly ill Mrs. Warren is one for the ages and definitely takes this movie to another dimension.
The Wonderful Directing
Now, that I’ve discussed the acting, let me turn my attention to the director, Robert Siodmak.
Quite frankly, I don’t think enough people know about this film, and that’s a shame because Siodmak gives us some fabulous cinematic shots that are pretty bizarre (in the best sense.) The interesting part about this is that though this movie may be a film noir, it’s also simultaneously a period piece – and a glorious one at that.
Combining a period piece with a film noir is a genius idea, but not an original one.
Yes, it’s been done before, and it’s very possible that other movies may have done it better, but, there’s something about the way Siodmak films and frames every shot with a purpose, that takes this movie from being good to great.
The shadows, the lowlights, and the atmosphere are all a testament to his directing – and it shows.
In the end, The Spiral Staircase is a wonderfully paced, acted, and directed film. The performances by McGuire and Barrymore are unquestionably the best ones in the movie, director Robert Siodmak sees this uses their talent and maxes out to its full potential.
And for that, I thank him.
If you would like to see more entries in this blogathon click: here.
Sure, it’s Grace Kelly and Cary Grant in the French Riviera.
Yeah, it’s Alfred Hitchcock in his prime, but, the movie lacks…..something.
Released in 1955, To Catch a Thief stars Cary Grant, Grace Kelly and Jessie Royce Landis in what could be the worst of the three films Kelly did with Hitchcock. I don’t mean that in a malicious way; I believe, objectively, that the plot in this film compared to Dial M for Murder and Rear Window is hands down the weakest of the Kelly/Hitchcock films.
My main gripe?
Cary Grant plays John “The Cat” Robie, a retired cat burglar who now lives a secluded life on the French Riviera.
After a string robberies that were made to imitate his style, Robie immediately returns to being public enemy number one. The police show up to his seaside villa to arrest him, but Robie manages to escape out the back.
Naturally, running away from police builds up an appetite, so, John visits a restaurant.
He walks into the kitchen and instantly recognizes the staff. The cooks, busboys, and sous chefs are all old buddies from John’s French Resistance days.
They harbor a bit of resentment towards John because they were granted parole based on how patriotic they were. Because of John’s new ‘adventure,’ they’re all under suspicion of colluding as long as ‘The Cat’ is still active. Things get hostile for a minute, then calm down when the police see Robie and he makes a run for it.
Conveniently enough, the restaurant’s owner’s teenaged daughter named Danielle (played by Brigitte Auber) shuttles him away to safety.
Robie desperately wants to clear his name.
In order to do that, he seeks the help of a man named H.H Hughson (played by John Williams.) Hughson is an insurance man who gives Robie a list of, as he puts it, the “most expensive jewelry owners currently on the Riviera.”
First on that list? A woman named Jessie Stevens (played by Jessie Royce Landis) and her very charming daughter Frances (played by Grace Kelly.) John, posing as an Oregon lumber magnate, strikes up a conversation with them later that night at dinner.
So the trio and John start a dialogue about a multitude of different subjects. The discussion, embarrassingly, culminates in Jessie Stevens asking John why he hasn’t made a move on her daughter.
Frances, or “Francie” as her mother calls her, originally shows no interest. However, that all changes when John walks her back to her hotel room and Francie proceeds to give him a good night kiss.
The next morning, Robie receives a note claiming that his life in danger as he’s tanning on the beach with Frances. Danielle walks by with an inquisitive look on her face as she dives into the water. John, not one to miss out, follows her.
Danielle goes on to tell Robie that there are a group of ex-convicts that are out to kill him.
Later that day on a picnic, Frances tells John that she knows he isn’t an American businessman. In fact, not only does she know that he’s John Robie “The Cat”, she also begs him to be his accomplice. Robie, bending but not breaking, maintains his innocence and agrees to meet Frances in her hotel room later that night.
If you’ve seen this movie, then you know that this next scene is THE scene.
Robie shows up to Frances’ hotel room and Frances tries to tempt him with the jewels she’s wearing. Jokes on her though, John quickly recognizes that her necklace is fake. As the moment progresses and the fireworks build up behind them, the pair shares a very passionate kiss as the screen fades to black.
This quiet moment lasted for about 8 hours.
The morning after Frances and John’s rendezvous, she storms his hotel room asking where her mother’s jewels were. Robie admits that he’s “The Cat” but, he didn’t steal the jewelry. Francie doesn’t care, she calls the police anyway. But, before they got there, John has already slipped out of the window.
Sick and tired of being accused of a crime, John decides to surveil the area for that night. In case something goes wrong, Robie calls the police as a preventative measure.
Well, what do you know, something does happen.
John struggles with an attacker and accidentally shoves him off the building.
The next scene we see is everyone gathered around a casket. The man inside is Danielle’s father, Foussard. While walking out of the cathedral, a policeman tells John that they’ve identified the body and that he’s cleared of all suspicion.
“Oh, no!” says John.
Robie claims it couldn’t have been Foussard because he had a peg leg. Understandably, the police let him go to find the real ‘Cat’ later that night at a masquerade party.
It turns out that at the gathering, everything falls into to place for John.
In the end, John catches the woman *gasp* that was posing as him (it was Danielle), clears his name, and starts a long-term relationship with Frances.
How perfect is that?
The Bone I Have To Pick With This Movie
Where do I begin? I love Cary Grant and Grace Kelly equally. I love their movies. I love them in this movie together, but, this film lacks something.
I know, I know, there are A LOT of folks who adore this movie. I don’t want to take that away from anybody, but, there are some glaring issues in this movie for me.
My main issue with it is that it’s non-existent. It’s very compelling for the first 20 or so minutes and then it sort of….drops off. There were a lot of ‘lull’ moments in the film. At times, I didn’t really care about the side stories, I just wanted to know who stole the darn jewels.
Heck, even Hitchcock called this picture a “lightweight” story.
I never felt that anyone was in real danger in this movie. In Dial M, and Rear Window I was genuinely afraid for certain characters. Not once did I believe that Cary Grant was going to get harmed in any way in this film.
The moments between Cary and Grace, however, were excellent and dripping with innuendo, as only Hitchcock can do. But, other than that, it didn’t give that same thrill that I got from other films from Hitch.
In the end, my opinion is just an opinion. I may not enjoy this movie as much as other Hitchcock features, but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate it. The shooting locations are gorgeous and the coincidence of Grace Kelly shooting one of her last movies in Monaco isn’t lost on me.
I do enjoy the film, I truly do. Sometimes, movies you think you were going to like don’t always go the way you plan, and that’s okay.
If you would like to read more entries in this blogathon click: here.
I don’t think there’s a musical that I enjoy watching more than Silk Stockings.
Released in 1957, the movie co-stars Fred Astaire, Cyd Charisse, Janis Page, and Peter Lorre in what could be the best musical adaption of a film that originally wasn’t meant to be one.
The film follows Fred Astaire‘s character, an American producer named Steve Canfield, as he travels to Russia to convince musician Peter Illyich Boroff (played by Wim Sonneveld) to compose some music for his new movie that is being shot in Paris. After some coaxing, Boroff agrees and starts working on Canfield’s score. A few weeks and many pieces of paper later, Boroff finishes Canfield’s request. The only problem is, Boroff doesn’t want to return to his homeland.
This doesn’t go over too well in Russia. To fix this, three incompetent commissars played by Peter Lorre, Jules Munshin, and Joseph Buloff are sent over to Paris bring him back to the motherland. Brankov, Bibinski, and Ivanov, as they’re called, try to do the best they can to return Boroff back to Russia.
Steve Canfield has other ideas.
To prevent his composer from returning to that ice-filled abyss that is Russia, he comes up with a very clever excuse. Steve, ingeniously tells them that his friend Boroff isn’t really who he says he is. According to Steve, he’s found an affidavit that disputes Peter’s Russian heritage and that they need to go to court to resolve the issue.
Being the bumbling numpties that they are, the trio believes the lie and lets Boroff stay.
Steve spends the next couple of weeks exposing the three commissars to Western culture.
Women, nightclubs, French champagne, you name it.
Back in Russia, they get word that their commissars are having an extended Parisian ‘holiday.’ Worried and frustrated (as most Soviets were) they send a militant, “homely” looking women named Ninotchka (ha ha!) Yoschenko played by Cyd Charisse to drag all four of the men home.
(I put homely in quotations because it’s Cyd Charisse, there’s absolutely nothing homely about her! But, in this film, she was supposed to be, oh well!)
Ninotchka walks into their hotel’s lobby and, immediately, her Communist sensibilities begin to get assaulted. She shocked at what she sees; servile laborers, a lavish interior, and an advertisement that happens to be selling silk stockings. After recovering from that shock, she finds Boroff’s suite (with Steve inside) she instantly asks him to see the affidavit.
Steve tries to woo her, hoping to divert her attention away from her investigation with tales of late nights in Paris. Ninotchka refuses his advances, claiming they were part of the West’s “bourgeois propaganda.” The next morning, Steve semi-successfully seduces Ninotchka when she, begrudgingly, agrees to let him take her on a tour of Paris.
He makes sure that the trip is tailored to her interests while also managing to sneak a few beauty store locations in the itinerary with the hope of enticing her.
When the pair returns Steve’s hotel room later that night, Canfield tries to set the mood with romantic music and low lighting.
When that doesn’t work, Steve takes Ninotchka into his arms and starts dancing with her. She struggles against his lead for a few moments then, subsequently, starts moving to the rhythm, eventually succumbing to his advances. Being a dancer, Ninotchka quickly picks up Steve’s steps. Their close proximity culminates in a kiss, and her cold, Communist exterior slowly melts away.
Fearing that she’s getting too emotionally attached to Steve and that she’s neglecting her duties, Ninotchka decides to return to Russia with Boroff and the three commissars.
A few months later, Ninotchka receives a letter from Steve. She invites the three commissars and Boroff into her apartment and tries to read it to them, but, so much of it has been redacted that only Steve’s name, greeting, and the ending remains on the sheet of paper. Disappointed, Boroff finds a piano and starts to play the composition he wrote for Steve in Paris.
Overcome with joy, Ninotchka starts leaping through her apartment, showing that she’s been ‘corrupted’ by her stay in that “Western hell-hole” that is France.
Back in Paris, Steve is concocting a plan to get Ninotchka, Boroff and the three commissars back to his hotel room. His scheme involves getting the commissars back to Paris to sell Russian films. He hopes that the three will overstay their welcome again and that Ninotchka will be forced to come back and retrieve them.
Surprisingly, the plan works and the four of them return Paris.
The rest of the movie sees Ninotchka and Steve fall in love and get married, Boroff, ultimately, accepting Western culture, Brankov, Bibinski, and Ivanov standing up to their higher-ups and finally, everyone ends up living happily ever after in Paris.
The Wicked Fun Dancing Sequences
Oh, boy, where do I begin?
This film is astonishingly fun to watch. There are so many entertaining musical numbers in this movie, I don’t think I can count them on one hand.
The one number I keep on coming back to is this scene: here. It’s Cyd Charisse as Ninotchka just kicking back, and letting loose. In the movie, she plays this stuffy character that is no-nonsense, the fact that she’s able to have this moment of rapturous joy just by dancing is phenomenal.
Next, of course, is Fred Astaire. We couldn’t possibly talk about this movie without discussing him. There’s this musical number where he dances alongside the lead actress in his movie, Peggy, played by Janis Page that is absolutely a riot (in a good way.) In the scene, they’re explaining that in order to sell movies, you need Technicolor, CinemaScope, and stereophonic sound, not good acting. It sounds absurd but, it couldn’t be more entertaining. If you like, you could watch it: here.
If you want to see more, here’s a list of honorable mentions:
So, I’ve been reading a lot of books about classic Hollywood lately, and my most recent acquisition has been quite interesting. I stumbled upon a Life magazine coffee book that was filled with photos from the photographer Howell Conant.
This isn’t your average book of photos, however. No, this was an entire book dedicated to Conant’s relationship with actress Grace Kelly.
The book starts out with how the two met, interjected with photos of Grace in various locations and eventually ends with a collection of pictures of Ms. Kelly in her later years with Prince Rainier and their three children, Stéphanie, Albert, and Caroline.
I bring this book up because it’s utterly fascinating. These photos, although mundane to some, provide an intriguing look at the woman behind that facade that was Grace Kelly. You know the facade I’m talking about.
The “ice-covered volcano” one.
The one her entire cinematic legacy is based on.
The one everyone is obsessed with- including me.
Grace Kelly was a lot of things. Although she only made 13 films, her cinematic footprint continues to live on.
Why is that?
How does a woman who was only in Hollywood for a couple years, create such a lasting legacy? Some may say it was because of her beauty, others say it may have been the movies she made. Heck, I don’t even know why she’s so remembered. She was only in Hollywood for about 5 years, until she left and married a Prince that lives in Monaco.
So, what’s all the hubbub?
Let’s find out.
Grace Kelly started her movie career with the film Fourteen Hours.She had a minor role that didn’t garner much attention, so, she went to television and honed her craft by performing in over 60+ live TV appearances. Her hard work and dedication got her noticed by director Fred Zinnemann, who decided to cast her opposite Gary Cooper in the movie, High Noon. The movie received decent reviews, but, Grace didn’t stand out too much. There was, however, another director that had Grace on his radar.
John Ford saw Grace in Fourteen Hours and cast her in his action-adventure-romance flick, Mogambo. Co-starring alongside Clark Gable and Ava Gardner, Mogambo is a grand ole’ movie, but not for Grace. As I explained in my review,Gardner easily outshined Grace in the film. But, this hiccup didn’t deter other directors from hiring Grace in their pictures.
Her next project would be filming scenes for the Mark Robson directed drama The Bridges at Toko-Ri. Playing the wife of her co-star William Holden, Grace received favorable reviews for her role as the wife of Navy Lieutenant Harry Brubaker played by Holden. After getting significant praise for her role in The Bridges at Toko-Ri, things started looking up for Grace‘s career.
Turning down a part in the movie, On The Water Front, Grace took the opportunity to work with Alfred Hitchcock on the film, Rear Window.About the production of this flick, Grace is reported to have said that during the making of another movie, Dial M for Murder, Hitchcock, “sat and talked to (her) about Rear Window all the time, even before we had discussed my being in it.”
As you guys may know, Rear Window is peak Grace Kelly. It’s the role that, more or less, made her a household name. It’s the part that most people recognize her from and rightfully so. If you’ve seen Rear Window, you know that it’s one of Hitch‘s best films.
Rear Window also happens to be the movie where Grace‘s persona of the “ice queen” really kicks into high gear. You see, Hitchcock had this rather unhealthy obsession with blonde women, and Grace may have been the one actress that sent him over the edge.
Grace Kelly‘s “ice queen” image was supposed to symbolize sex, the “good” kind. She didn’t advertise it like a Marilyn or a Kim Novak would. No, you had to coax her into it, and once you did- oh boy.
Hitchcock was the only director to really play up her image in the 3 movies they did together which, ultimately, peaked in To Catch a Thieffrom 1955. Luckily for Hitchcock, movie audiences and critics alike both saw what he was trying to achieve with Grace‘s image. Kelly was praised for her performance in Rear Window and eventually, that saw her win the role of Georgie Elgin in the Oscar winning film, The Country Girl.
This was the motion picture where Grace, essentially, “dirtied” herself up to win an Academy Award.
You know what I’m talking about.
It’s when a very attractive woman takes a role in a movie where she’s going to have to make herself look less appealing than she actually is. Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron and a number of other actresses have all done this.
Grace was no different.
Some may argue that she didn’t deserve it, and they’re right, to a certain extent.
There is a large section of classic film fans who firmly believe that Judy Garland should’ve won for her heartbreaking performance in A Star Is Bornthat year. I could see why they’d be upset. Garland was the favorite that year, and A Star Is Born was her comeback movie. Grace ‘spoiled’ that for her.
As for my opinion, well, it’s a little bit of both. I do believe that Judy should’ve won, but, I also understand why Grace did.
Much like Leonardo DiCaprio‘s Oscar win from a year ago, Grace Kelly won her Oscar based on her body of work. Just a couple of years earlier, Grace was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Mogambo. She didn’t win, unfortunately, but she did win a Golden Globe for her performance. Now, this is important because I think this tells us why Judy lost out on the Academy Award.
In 1955, Grace was the ‘It’ girl. She was everywhere. At this point her career she’s worked with Alfred Hitchcock, John Ford, Fred Zinnemann and many other directors of a high pedigree.
She was a hot commodity.
With every movie Grace did, particularly during 1954 and 1955, her profile grew. Everyone wanted her- including the Academy. Judy didn’t have that. Even though she was the favorite to win it, she was old property (their words not mine.) Grace represented something new, something fresh.
It really comes down to Hollywood wanting to move forward (a.k.a Grace) and not wanting to be stuck in the past (eg: Judy.) It’s sad to think about, but, that’s how Hollywood works.
C’est la vie.
Anyway, after Grace finished a grueling schedule that saw her work on four movies in a span of a few months, she finally got to kick back and relax on a trip to the French Riveria to film Alfred Hitchcock‘s To Catch A Thief.
Perhaps the ‘weakest’ of the three films she did with Hitch, To Catch A Thief is an okay movie. The plot isn’t very convincing and I found myself bored during certain parts of the film. What the movie does have going, however, is its dialogue and interplay between Grace and her co-star Cary Grant.
The innuendo-filled script and the beautiful sights of the Riviera are enough to make this film better than what the plot offers. It’s still a good movie, don’t get me wrong, but I’d most certainly put it as the 3rd movie in my ranking of Hitchcock/Kelly collaborations.
After, completing To Catch a Thief, Grace was invited to head the U.S delegation that was traveling to the Cannes Film Festival. It was at Cannes where she met her future husband Prince Rainier III of Monaco. They initially met when Rainier asked to participate in a photo session with her.
At the time, Grace was dating French actor Jean-Pierre Aumont, and marriage was the last thing on her mind. It wasn’t until Grace returned to America to film The Swan, that she started a correspondence with the Prince.
A few months and many letters later, Rainier visited Philadelphia under the ruse that he was there on “official business.”
Spoiler: He wasn’t.
After getting engaged Grace would only film one last movie before shipping out to Monaco.
High Society is a musical remake of the 1940 film, The Philadelphia Story co-starring Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and Celeste Holm. This film is easily the best non-Hitchcock film that Grace stars in.
She showed that she had a gift for light comedy and slapstick humor. It makes you rather sad that she permanently retired from acting after this film. You have to wonder what kinds of roles she would’ve gone on to play if she didn’t marry Rainier.
We’ll never know.
Grace finished High Society and went on to marry Prince Rainer on April 19th, 1956 in Saint Nicholas Cathedral, located right beside the shining waters of the Riviera.
Sadly, as I stated earlier, Grace would never make another movie. She did have a chance in 1962, though, when Hitchcock offered her the lead role in his movie, Marnie. But, it was not meant to be. The people of Monaco didn’t want her to play a sex-crazed, kleptomaniac, so, she gracefully bowed out of the project.
For the rest of her life, Grace would basically do things that a ruler of a small principality like Monaco would do.
She had a multitude of philanthropic projects going, she and Rainier had three children together, and life was basically very relaxed for the new Princess of Monaco.
Sadly, that all ended on September 13, 1982, when Grace was driving down a curving road with her daughter Stéphanie and suffered a stroke that saw her accidentally drive off a small cliff. Paramedics found her alive, but in critical condition. They attempted to resuscitate her, to no avail. Grace Patricia Kelly died on September 14th, 1982 at 10:55 p.m at the age of 52.
Why is Grace Kelly so remembered?
I think the question we need to be asking ourselves is: Why wouldn’t she be?
For a moment in time, Grace Kelly epitomized beauty and glamor. Her persona as an actress fueled into that and her movies with Hitchcock cemented it. Sure, the majority of her films may have been duds, but, the ones that were good, exceeded expectations. I think that’s why we remember Grace Kelly, it’s a combination of those things.
If we take into account everything that happened to Grace, her life is the stuff of mythology.
She was born into a wealthy Philadelphia family, became a world renown actress, and retired at the age of 26 to marry of a Prince. People on both sides of the Atlantic love her and miss her dearly. She’s also a woman who, to this day, gets put on best-dressed lists. She’s inspired many people to not only get into acting but, to be the best person they could be. Based on the way her friends and family reacted when she died, you’d swear she was an angel sent down from heaven.
When you add that all up, what’s not to remember?
Grace Kelly was a legend, and her legacy reflects that.