Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.
Sunday, 24 January 2010
Jean (1929-2010) has always been one of my favourite actresses, and like Sophia Loren, Loretta Young, Linda Darnell and others she started out so young. She was only 16 in the mid-40s when she began in films like THE WAY TO THE STARS, GREAT EXPECTATIONS, BLACK NARCISSUS, HAMLET, YOUNG BESS, so really she was considered a star of the previous decade by the mid 60s, when still only in her 30s. She and Deborah Kerr were the two great British beauties of the 40s who went to Hollywood and were very big stars indeed in the 50s. Like Kerr, Simmons played with all the leading men of the day: Brando (twice!), Newman, Peck, Hudson etc. She and Gregory Peck are perfect together in THE BIG COUNTRY, and she plays nicely against type with then husband Stewart Granger in 1955's FOOTSTEPS IN THE FOG. She is also fun in the all star THE GRASS IS GREENER (in Joan Greenwood's stage role). She is also brilliant in SPARTACUS, in that scene reunited with Olivier. Oddly though, she was not even nominated for her best role, also in 1960, ELMER GANTRY - w here so-stars Lancaster and Shirley Jones won their awards! She is also wonderful in the little seen Cukor film THE ACTRESS (1953), and ALL THE WAY HOME, HOME BEFORE DARK, THE HAPPY ENDING. One trusts her later years were happy, after the marriages to Granger and Richard Brooks, and Howard Hughes interest in her back in the early 50s. It was good seeing her as Desiree in the original London run of A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC in '75.
Back to 1960 - that year again. It was the culmination of her and Kerr's great years, it would have been so ideal if they tied for the best actress: Jean for ELMER GANTRY and Deborah for THE SUNDOWNERS. But of course Elizabeth Taylor got ill ... and then recovered.