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.

Monday, 14 June 2010

People We Like: Agnes Moorehead

While we are discussing formidable women, here's a nod to Agnes Moorehead - whom I have seen in quite a few crackers recently. Agnes of course is up there with Thelma Ritter and Eve Arden and Jessie Royce Landis as one of the great character players and she has enlivened scores of films since those early appearances with Welles in CITIZEN KANE and her brilliant role as Aunt Fanny in THE MAGNIFICIENT AMBERSONS. Without checking her filmography I remember her Aunt Reed in that good verson of JANE EYRE in '44. She worked steadily through the '50s and into the '60s - films like SHOWBOAT, RAINTREE COUNTY, HOW THE WEST WAS WON and that slatterny servant in HUSH HUSH SWEET CHARLOTTE where she and aged Mary Astor (as Jewel Mayhew) practically steal the film from Bette and Olivia. I did not see her BEWITCHED series though ... (Left, her aged Countess in THE LOST MOMENT with Susan Hayward, in '47, based on Henry James' THE ASPERN PAPERS).

here though are some choice Mooreheads:

THE REVOLT OF MAMIE STOVER - Aggie is blonde here and - gasp! - glamorous as the no-nonsense madam of the brothel in wartime Hawaii where Jane Russell's Mamie Stover becomes the star girl, in '56. I will be writing more about this shortly ... but Aggie is terrific here.

THE STORY OF MANKIND - that 1957 lulu (which I have previously written about here) by Irwin Allen, full of those odd cameos. Agnes has a minute or two as Elizabeth I and is a terrific addition to those Virgin Queens by Davis, Robson, Jackson ...

THE TEMPEST - the 1958 Dino De Laurentiis co-production with mainly Italian players like Silvana Mangano and Vittorio Gassman. Agnes is perfectly cast here as Mangano's mother (they both have a similar profile) and it was a treat to see again recently, as per my review a while back.

THE SWAN - This is rather ignored now as HIGH SOCIETY took all the attention as the last Grace Kelly film, but this is a real treat now, with a good role at last for Jessie Royce Landis playing Grace's mother (again), and terrific MGM production values realising the castle as Prince Alec Guinness comes wooing, and princess Grace falls for lowly tutor Louis Jourdan. Estelle Winwood is also on hand, and Agnes makes a brisk apperance as the Queen setting them all aflutter.

THE OPPOSITE SEX - A perennial favourite as I have reviewed it several times, Agnes scores here as the Countess whom June Allyson meets on the train on the way to her divorce in Reno, in this perfectly '50s remake of THE WOMEN. Right: a bizarre shot of the ladies all lined up in costume!
Add in those roles in ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS, CAGED, Wayne's mother in THE CONQUEROR, with Hayward again in UNTAMED, the grouch in POLLYANNA, and the crotchety nun in THE SINGING NUN ... and I really must get around to watching JEANNE EAGELS !
I have just discovered a terrific website (thank you Google) devoted to all things Agnes: Aggie's Place: - check it out!


  1. "The Revolt of Mamie Stover" is one I've always wanted to see - I had no idea Agnes was in it as a flashy blonde madam! I love it. Maybe Fox will release a Jane Russell box set one of these days...

  2. I thought it would be a cheapo - but its a Scope and Color lavish Buddy Adler production. I wouldn't put much faith in Fox box sets though - their Joan Collins and Jayne Mansfield box sets could not include 1957's THE WAYWARD BUS starring both of them, due apparantly to the Steinbeck estate ... Steinbeck himself appears as narrator in the Fox '52 O HENRY'S FULL HOUSE - subject of my next post ...

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  4. Thank you for this.I love Agnes Moorehead, in fact she is my ALL time fav actress:) For an Aggie "change of pace," check out "Without Honor." AM gives a lovely, winning, performance, plus she looks quite fetching in her little hat, & veil;)

  5. Who in the bloody hell are you referring to as "Aggie", you effing disrespectful prick!?