Saturday, June 25, 2011

angel face

Poised somewhere between Deborah Kerr and Elizabeth Taylor, between Kerr's reserved British demeanor and Taylor's affecting smolder, Jean Simmons never quite received the recognition she deserved - although I'd argue that, of the three, she was the best actress. Certainly, the most versatile and adaptable.

Turner Classic Movies has been paying tribute to her in June as its Star of the Month, screening 26 of her films over four Tuesday evenings, including her fine work in Joseph Mankiewicz's discordant "Guys and Dolls," Robert Wise's charming "This Could Be the Night," George Cukor's seminal "The Actress" and Otto Preminger's terrific "Angel Face."

Arugably, the best night to watch Jean is the long evening of 28-29 June, when TCM screens her strong performances in Mervyn LeRoy's "Home Before Dark," Ted Kotcheff's "Life at the Top," Robert Wise's "Until They Sail," William Wyler's "The Big Country," and the Richard Brooks duo, "Elmer Gantry" and "The Happy Ending." I'll be up.

Note in Passing: You'll have to wait until 9 August to catch Jean in Bud Yorkin's excellent marital comedy, "Divorce - American-Style."


P. Buhleier said...

This scene absolutely blew me away the first time I saw it. Thanks for quoting it.

david shaw said...

Joe, this short essay about Jean Simmons is one of the best analyses of a movie star that I’ve read. I have to say I never understood why her appeal seemed so limited when she was in her prime. As 1950s actresses go, I much prefer her to Taylor.

Damien said...

Excellent observation and one that I had not thought about prior to your post.

Steve in Sacramento said...

I always saw at least a physical resemblance between Jean Simmons and Audrey Hepburn, but "somewhere between Deborah Kerr and Elizabeth Taylor" sounds just about spot on.

Just for fun: I once described Judy Holliday (one of my all-time faves) as having "a style and presence that falls somewhere between, say, Marilyn Monroe and Lucille Ball, while remaining uniquely her own." How would you describe Judy, Joe?

a.n. said...

As a child I always confused Simmons w Hepburn. And as Hepburn was t bigger star, I basicly concluded all their roles were all played by Hepburn.

My favorite western is "The Big Country". And I always assumed that was Hepburn. And to this day, I read of Jean Simmons parts that I thought were Hepburn, Guys and Dolls and Sparticus for example.