As you may know, Grace Kelly left Hollywood to marry Prince Rainier the third of Monaco. This decision was met with elation by many, but, there are also people who wonder: “what would’ve happen if Grace never left Hollywood?”
This popped into my head recently due to an assignment I had during my mass communications class at university.
We had to pick any person in history and ‘ask them’ ten questions that would provoke a breaking news headline.
Here are my 10:
What was it like on your wedding day?
Were you nervous marrying into a royal family?
Do you still keep in contact with any of your ex co-stars?
If so, who is the one you spoke with most recently?
Do you ever want to get back into acting?
Do you think about how your life may be different had you continued acting?
What would you do if Alfred Hitchcock gave you the opportunity to come out of retirement?
Would you accept his offer?
What if one of your three children wanted to go into acting?
How do feel about the shift in social attitudes since your twenties?
As you can tell, these are questions that I’m sure every classic film fan would love to hear the answers to.
I often wonder what it would’ve been like had Grace returned to the silver screen. But alas, all we have are pipe dreams and daydreams to keep us satiated.
I’ll leave with with this: a letter correspondence between Hitchcock and Grace when the former offered the role as ‘Marnie’ in the movie title of the same name.
When we think of Alfred Hitchcock, there are certain qualities and buzzwords that are synonymous with his name: brilliant, genius, crazy and a multitude of others.
What happens when you pair a crazy, pedantic genius, with a hairbrained painter with a mustache? A wildly fascinating dream sequence in 1945’s Spellbound.
In 1945, the acting talents of Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck joined forces with director Alfred Hitchcock to create a rather underrated movie in Hitchcock‘s filmography.
Spellbound is a peach of a movie, combining romance and psychology with the intrigue of forgotten memory.
Bergman and Peck play psychoanalysts Constance Peterson and Anthony Edwardes, respectively.
In classic Hollywood fashion, the pair ends up breaking every professional rule in the book and inevitably have an affair.
Naturally, when you fall in bed love with someone, especially as quickly and passionately as having an affair, you enter a “honeymoon phase” where you notice every single tiny detail of your object of affection.
This is where Constance picks up on Anthony’s strange habits. She finds out that not only does he have a fear of parallel lines on white backgrounds, he’s also not who he claims he is. Constance deduces that he might be an imposter, based on a number of things that Anthony has told her.
From killing the real Dr. Edwardes, having bouts of amnesia, to having a guilt complex, Constance overlooks these GLARING issue to get this poor man (one she doesn’t know very well, mind you) the help he needs.
When Edwardes sneaks away from Constance’s grasp, due to fear of, well, everything – she tracks him down and attempts to use her psychoanalytic techniques on him. These methods prove to be unsuccessful, and eventually, she takes him to upstate New York, where they meet two doctors who proceed to psychoanalyze his many stray thoughts.
In steps Salvador Dali.
In 1945, Dailmoved specifically to Hollywood to work on this film. Hitchcock wanted a scene that portrays the surrealness of Edwardes’ dreams and Dali was the only artist to bring Hitch‘s madcap imagination to life.
In order to capture this, accurately and as demented as possible, Hitchcock gave Dali free reign to shape, and mold this world to his liking. This is how we get a rather, disturbing, and incredibly unsettling dream scene smack dab in the middle of the film.
Dali and Hitchcock wanted us to feel that way, they wanted us to squirm in our seats and crane our necks away from the television (or movie screen in this case.) This 3-minute sequence, unfortunately, is probably the most memorable part of the film, however, it’s almost certainly the most important scene as well.
This dream sequence sets the tone for the rest of the movie. As an audience member, we get a feel for how “Edwardes” thinks, feels and acts. Thanks to the creativity and forward thinking of Hitchcock, and the expansive mind of Dali, we were blessed with perhaps the greatest dream sequence ever to be put on the silver screen.
The U.S is a great country, I don’t care what anyone says.
No country is a large and diverse as these 50 different states in the union.
From the golden coasts of California to the Rocky Mountains of the Appalachians, the United States is truly a sight to behold – especially when you have time to burn during the summer.
It’s only fitting that movies and traveling fit together. Turner Classic Movies, better known as ‘TCM’ has begun this fantastic new film spotlight that focuses on ’50 Movies from 50 different states.
Starting in New England, then making its way down to New York City, then with a quick stop down South, then onward toward Florida, going back up to the midwest, then down the Missippi River, all the way out to the Wild West, then eventually ending on the sun-kissed coasts of California.
Every Monday and Tuesday this July, you will be able to enjoy your favorite classic movies while exploring the great open roads of the United States.
Life continues on, whether you like it or not. Despite that, I want to take the time out to write about something that’s changed my life – for the better.
In 2013, I was fairly young, high school aged to be exact. I had no clue what I wanted to do with myself.
I didn’t want to be a doctor or a lawyer like my fellow classmates, I just wanted to coast through and enjoy life. I had no plans, I liked living, I liked watching soccer and generally being a nuisance.
This all changed when I was required to take a high school elective on cinema appreciation
It was in this class that I was exposed to numerous films that would influence me for the foreseeable future:
There were others, of course, but these were the ones that stood out in my mind the most. They formed me, they helped me understand that there’s more depth to movies that I had originally expected.
So, I started digging.
Thanks to TCM, I found a treasure trove of classic pictures that shaped who I am. From Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant to James Cagney and Ginger Rogers, I was absolutely enthralled with what I was seeing.
I discovered the magic of classic films, I immersed myself in this world. I loved them, breathed them, and dreamt of them.
Because of this, I started to carry myself with a lot more confidence, I dug into the past of these actors and actresses. I learned about the backgrounds of these people and I lived through them. It affected the way I looked at life.
I thought to myself, “if the glitz and glamour of Hollywood could cover up some of the trials and tribulations that these actors and actresses were going through why can’t I keep my chin up during hard times?”
In summation, my love for history and classic films had a direct correlation to how I saw myself.
Isn’t that what movies are about?
Whisking you away for a couple of hours to forget about life?
Whether it be about his sexuality, his legacy or his many, many many, adventures into method acting, people seem to be absolutely enthralled with the sandy-haired actor.
Is the public infatuation with James Dean similar to the reason why Marilyn Monroe is held in such regard? Did his early death cause the movie-going public to look at his 3 films with rose-tinted glasses?
If these things are true, is it possible that because of his death, Dean‘s acting ability is, dare I say, overblown?
Dean, born February 8th, 1931, was a shy boy, always getting into trouble with authority figures in some way or another. The only person who really understood him was his mother, saying that she was the only one who was, “capable of understanding him.”
After his mother died in 1938, Dean was sent to live with his grandparents in Fairmount, Indiana where he would live out the rest of his childhood.
Fast forward to July 1951.
Dean was finally getting his big break as an actor.
Starring in a multitude of TV series, Dean honed his craft and eventually in 1953 got his ‘big break’ in the Elia Kazan drama East of Eden.
Inevitably, his performance as Cal Trask gained him attention, which led to other roles in films likeRebel Without a Cause and my personal favorite 1956’s Giant.
Sure, these are fantastic movies and while various critics sang his praises, were Dean’s performances any good?
I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with James Dean. I appreciate all that he’s done as an actor, but part of me believes that his acting ability was way overblown.
Yes, I will get some flack, but hear me out.
Dean was known for his method acting. He was very good at what he did, but he wasn’t the best at it. Compared to fellow actors Montgomery Clift, Marlon Brando, or even Paul Newman, Dean seemed to have a tendency to overdo it at times.
Take Rebel Without a Cause for example. Truth be told, Sal Mineo was the better actor in that film. I found Dean to be melodramatic and a bit too extra at times. Even Natalie Wood (a woman whose movie I don’t particularly care for) acted circles around him.
I absolutely adore Giant, it’s one of his best roles. For some reason, he’s much more subdued in that role compared to his other films. Perhaps it has to do with him having a director like George Stevens, or maybe it was Dean maturing into his acting.
But, the difference between these two films is staggering. Dean‘s quality in Giant makes me forgive him for overacting in RWaC.
No offense to Dean‘s legacy or his avid supporters, but maybe, just maybe, if he started out easing his way into his acting style instead of throwing all his chips on RWaC I would enjoy him a lot more.
I’ve written quite a lot about classic Hollywood romances.
Some are tragic, others are straight out of a romance novel, this relationship, in particular, is intriguing for other reasons.
The pairing of Sammy Davis Jr. and Kim Novak is an underrated coupling – an interesting one, actually.
In 1957, a couple of weeks after Kim was finished shooting the greatest movie of all time, Vertigo, she stopped by her hometown of Chicago for a night out at Chez Paree.
The entertainment for that night? None other than the very charming Sammy Davis Jr.
According to this “Vanity Fair” piece on the matter, apparently – at first- Kim wanted to use Davis‘ flirtations as a way to get back at Harry Cohn for his mistreatment of her.
Eventually, she and Sammy fell into a cordial friendship, which saw them exchange numbers and midnight rendezvous hidden away from the public eye.
What attracted Kim to Sammy wasn’t his race (of course that was part of it) but his stage presence. Much like my attraction to the internationally known k-pop band BTS, Sammy Davis‘ stage presence oozed sensuality.
With a cigarette in one hand and a ribbon microphone in the other, Davis crooned his way into the depths of Novak‘s heart.
So, they started dating.
Fully aware that their interracial relationship in 1957 could very well ruin both of their career’s, the pair had to keep it low-key.
For a couple of months, Sammy and Kim were in complete and utter bliss.
But they knew that inevitably the gossip columns (specifically Dorothy Kilgalen) would sniff around and get a whiff of what their relationship was giving off.
Once Kilgalen alerted the general public, other gossip columns started to jump on the speculation bandwagon.
That was the first gust of wind that knocked down their carefully crafted house of cards.
Sadly, their relationship didn’t last too long after that.
They tried to continue their romance, by evading photographers, hiding in the backseats of cars, meeting behind closed doors, and just generally staying out of the public eye.
Between the press and Harry Cohn’s incessant harassment, Novak and Davis parted ways.
In 1957, America was still deeply segregated. Unfortunately, their relationship was a casualty of that toxic mindset.
If there were any classic Hollywood relationship that could’ve worked out, I wish it were this one. Not only would they have broken boundaries but, seeing an interracial couple on the covers on “Confidential” or “Photoplay” would’ve been a sight to see.
In Cool Hand Luke, Lucas Jackson was a free spirit. We see this when he gets sent to prison for drunkenly cutting off the heads of parking meters. When ‘Luke’ arrives at the labor camp he proceeds to “have a bit of fun” by ‘stirring the pot’ among his fellow prison mates and the guards.
Inmates like ‘Dragline’ played by George Kennedy, at first, found ‘Luke’ peculiar, wanting to put him in his place before he gets out of line. Eventually, the pair becomes allies as they join forces to fight against the tyrannical reign of the sadistic prison guards.
The question is, what led Luke down this path?
He was a decorated war veteran, presumably dealing with some sort of mental stress from being in such a high-risk environment, he had a face to die for with the charms of a KPop idol oozing out of every pore and he had the intrapersonal intelligence to make friends with everyone that came in contact with him.
Well, according to the film, ‘Luke’ had some family issues, specifically with his sick mother. This, combined with the added mental scars from his war days may have led ‘Luke’ to have a “happy go lucky” attitude about life. This explains why he was up at 3 A.M vandalizing parking meters without a care in the world.
He’d pretty much lost everything: his mom, his mind, and by the end of the movie, his will to live.
In Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Brick’s situation is slightly different.
While ‘Luke’ didn’t care too much for other people’s opinions, Brick, on the other hand, cared too much.
This has him fall into a deep, alcohol-fueled depression where not even the advances of his very attractive wife Maggie, played by Elizabeth Taylor, can rescue him from the grasps of perpetual sadness.
Brick’s problem’s, unlike ‘Luke’, stems from his overbearing, classically Southern father ‘Big Daddy’ played by Burl Ives. At the climax of the film, ‘Big Daddy’ and Brick air their grievances with a 10-minute long conversation about the latter’s stubbornness. During the “talk” Maggie saunters in and explains to her father-in-law that it was the loss of his best friend Skipper that sent Brick into this state.
Maggie had always been jealous of their relationship. Brick spent every waking moment of his life with ‘Skip’, naturally that would make any woman upset. As payback, Maggie ruins their friendship, which probably contributed to Skipper’s suicide.
With that out in the open, the first scene of the movie where Brick drunkenly stumbles upon a track and field course and attempts to hurdle every last one of the barriers before being humbled by a broken leg makes sense.
Brick was trying to recapture his youth. He wanted to go back to a time where there were no family picnics, no responsibility, and no doting wives.
He blamed Maggie for his best friend’s death, is it any wonder why he didn’t want to sleep with her anymore; well, that and several other reasons.
In the end, alcohol was just a coping mechanism for deeper problems for each of these men- a side effect of the emotions they were both dealing with.
Paul Newman had a knack for picking good scripts. He certainly didn’t disappoint with these two and I am forever grateful.
Thanks to Ted Turner‘sgenius, thousands of tasty morsels from the wonderful world of classic cinema are merely a couple of remote clicks away. Despite the abundance of good that TCM provides to the starving film fan, there is a downside to having only a handful of movies stored in their archive. Usually, this means that the network has the tendency to replay a lot of movies.
This would irritate me, normally, but there’s always an actor (or director in this case) that’s an exception to this phenomenon.
In this case, it’s Alfred Hitchcock.
A couple of months ago, I was on my way to visit some family members in the northern part of the United States.
I’m an anxious flyer so, naturally, to calm my pre-flight jitters, I turned on TCM just a few hours before my flight left the following morning. Fortunately, all throughout that month, the network decided to sporadically play Hitchcock‘s voyeuristic masterpiece Rear Window in celebration of what would have been Grace Kelly‘s 88th birthday.
I’ve seen Rear Windowabout a dozen times on several different occasions (I even own it on Blu-ray) but, for some reason, this viewing felt very unusual.
Instead of enjoying the cheeky humor, incredible sets, and the brilliant screenwriting, I took an active effort at trying to understand the intricate fusion between the character of Lisa Carol Fremont and Grace Kelly – the actress.
As you may know, it has often been said that Grace Kelly had a ‘dual persona.’
This is in reference to the “ice queen” image that plagued her throughout her career. There’s no denying that Kelly was a pretty reserved person in her personal life – depending on which biography you read, but what about her movies?
This is where my re-viewing of Rear Window helped me to understand that this dichotomy that followed her career (and to a lesser extent her private life) wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Lisa Carol Fremont as a character was at times rather selfish, stubborn, and oftentimes just plain rude. That’s understandable, of course, when you realize she’s dealing with a man with a proclivity for adventure and a fear of commitment (played to perfection by James Stewart), yet as I was re-watching Grace as Lisa with a different set of eyes, I quickly recognized, “well, of course, she would act this way.”
Alfred Hitchcock specifically picked Grace for this roledue to this persona. Lisa was a fashionista, she loves clothing and even would forgo going on a trip with her boyfriend because she didn’t have the “proper attire” for the environment she’d be traveling in.
Who in their right mind would do something like that?
Right! An “ice queen” who gives off an air of entitlement and impenetrability.
There are some moments in the film where Lisa could be extraordinarily cold and distant, but it only ever happened when she was in crisis or when Jeff wasn’t conforming to her standards of what their relationship should look like.
Grace’s “ice queen persona” helps a lot in this aspect; she was the only actress that could’ve taken this role. Hitchcock deliberately crafted the role of Lisa Carol Fremont for Grace, he knew that if any other woman stepped into that role, the entire tone of the film could have been something that he didn’t intend to mean.
‘Hitch’ has always carefully crafted his pictures this way, it doesn’t surprise me that he chose Grace for this role. This same sentiment could be applied to her role in 1955’s To Catch a Thiefas well.
If it wasn’t for Hitchcock‘s cinema IQ and Grace’s typecast, I don’t believe Rear Window would’ve been as good as it is.
It’s funny, all it took for me to understand this was my fear of flying and my love for overanalyzing movies.
Jerry: Paris? No, not this city. It’s too real and too beautiful. It never lets you forget anything. It reaches in and opens you wide, and you stay that way.
-Leslie Caron as Lise and Gene Kelly as Jerry Mulligan in An American In Paris (1951)
Since it’s industrial revolution in the mid-1800s, the self-proclaimed,”City of Lights” has grown to represent a number of different things in the human psyche.
Whether it be the sound of the cobblestone streets beneath your feet as you walk beside the Seine River, the monotone “bonjour” as you stride into your favorite Boulangerie or the thousands of tourists who are jostling with each other in a race to see who can snap the most cliché selfie, Paris has been tourism hot-spot for decades.
In the eyes of the classic film fan, however, Paris holds a special connotation in our hearts.
Arguably starting with Humphrey Bogart‘slegendary quote during the climax of Casablanca, the City of Paris has been a staple in pop culture since the advent of the movie camera. It’s no wonder that many classic film directors have chosen “The City of Love” as the backdrop to several of their movies.
So, what makes Paris so special?
In the classic film sense, it encapsulates everything that’s so extraordinary about that specific era in movie history.
There are several movies that embody this feeling.
An American in Paris, Funny Face, and Moulin Rouge! are some of the better examples of this phenomenon. Other films in this category include The Last Time I Saw Paris,Les Girls, and 1958’s Academy Award Winning film Gigi. Even the plot of light-hearted romantic comedies like Stanley Donen‘s Charade has a feeling of improbability and absurdity that could only to recreated in a city like Paris.
In summation, Paris’ importance to classic Hollywood has been immense. Filmmakers, actors, actresses, producers, and screenwriters have all come together to help create a lore to this city that’s been so prevalent in our movie history.
The next time you happen to view a film that takes place in the ‘City of Love’, be sure to take a good look at its surroundings, you never know what magic Paris will conjure up this time.