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.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Remembering Lee Remick

Lee Remick at London's National Film Theatre in 1970.

A FACE IN THE CROWD, an early publicity shot, ANATOMY OF A MURDER.

Lee Remick [1935-1991] is of course fondly remembered as one of hollywood's best and most respected actresses who was a star from the word go, in the same bracket as say Natalie Wood or Joanne Woodward. I was too young to see her debut in Kazan's A FACE IN THE CROWD in '57 but was amazed by it when I finally saw it, its one of the most sensational debuts ever - but I liked her in her following films (when I was about 10 or 11) like THESE THOUSAND HILLS [where she is touching as the 'saloon girl' giving her savings to Don Murray so he can buy his land], THE LONG HOT SUMMER and how sensational she was in Otto's ANATOMY OF A MURDER in 1959. She was good playing Southern girls always fretting about the heat or unreliable men - one I missed (and seems unavailable now) is Tony Richardson's SANCTUARY in '61. One of her best performances was opposite Monty Clift for Kazan again in the very respected WILD RIVER in 1960. I have already written about how much I loved her performance in 1962's DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES where, in that stunning year for female performances, she should have won; her alcoholic here stayed long in the memory; I vividly remember sitting in the cinema aged 16 and loving that scene [below] where she and Jack Lemmon talk on the jetty watching the water, somewhere near the start, before they marry and hit the bottle. She was also marvellous that year in another Blake Edwards film, the tense thriller EXPERIMENT IN TERROR, [as per a recent post here]. She had a Doris Day type role in THE WHEELER DEALERS with James Garner in 1963, there was THE RUNNING MAN with Bates and Harvey, and then another terrific one BABY THE RAIN MUST FALL where she was ideal in this Robert Mulligan film with McQueen and Don Murray. (Below: BUS STOP programme - click to enlarge images).

She moved to London in the late '60s due to her second marriage and appeared in films like LOOT (where she is the hilarious Irish nurse) and A SEVERED HEAD. Her career in American movies may have faltered a bit but Lee was always busy with stage and television. She played in WAIT UNTIL DARK on Broadway and there was also that early Sondheim ANYONE CAN WHISTLE (which did not run long). In London in 1976 she played the Cherie role in a revival of BUS STOP (right, with Keir Dullea as that annoying cowboy). I particularly like her in 1968's NO WAY TO TREAT A LADY where she makes an intresting character out of the standard girlfriend role, and she is also fascinating in HARD CONTRACT with James Coburn in '69.

As well as seeing her on the stage in 1976, I also got to meet her in 1970 [ forty years ago! - it seems like yesterday...] when she appeared at London's National Film Theatre to discuss her career [programme notes, autographed by Lee - click image twice to enlarge text]. (I had 2 tickets for this event in the front row, but my guest could not make it, so Lee asked if she could sit in the spare seat next to me while the clips were being shown and was very friendly). Various other movies followed, including the hit THE OMEN with Gregory Peck, A DELICATE BALANCE and the nice Merchant-Ivory THE EUROPEANS inb 1979. British television beckoned with Henry James' THE AMBASSADORS with Paul Schofield, as Alma in SUMMER AND SMOKE, and THE VISION with Dirk Bogarde - these were shown only once, it would be terrific to be able to see them again... Lee continued very busy with movies, stage and television with lots of those tv movies like THE WOMEN'S ROOM, HAYWIRE, THE GIFT OF LOVE, TOUGHLOVE and another version of THE LETTER. One of her last roles was as Sarah Bernhardt in that remake of AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS with Pierce Brosnan. She was also perfect as one of the ensemble in that concert of Sondheim's FOLLIES with Elaine Stritch and Mandy Patimkin; and of course that successful mini-series JENNIE about Lady Randolph Churchill, in 1974, as well as movies with Burton, Bronson, Steiger, Newman etc.

Needless to say its always a pleasure to see Lee in anything; She indeed departed far too young - Jack Lemmon in tribute said she was the best of his co-stars. It was great to see her talking about her career in 1970 when she was very perceptive about stardom. As well as doing BUS STOP she had of course been signed to replace Marilyn Monroe in Fox's SOMETHING'S GOTTA GIVE back in 1962, which never happened - but she did (touchingly) host a documentary on MM: "Remembering Marilyn" which is a fascinating example of one star commenting on another.

I am taking a vacation now, but when I return more appreciations on: Lilli Palmer, Ingrid Thulin, Alida Valli, Clifton Webb, Jeffrey Hunter, Suzanne Pleshette, Stephen Boyd, Alan Bates, Peter Finch, Laurence Harvey, Charlton Heston, Michael Craig, Fabian, Anita Ekberg, Belinda Lee, Daliah Lavi, Senta Berger, Julie Christie, Sarah Miles, Claire Bloom, Glynis Johns, Flora Robson, Vittorio De Sica, Jacques Demy, Francois Ozon --- and some great nights in the theatre !


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  2. That's a great blog - and a very unusual Marilyn!
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  4. It will be fascinating to see your Dietrich - I saw one of her last concerts here in London in 1973, she was amazing on stage, such control over the audience.

  5. Thanks for posting the Bus Stop programme notes and interview material. How nice to have met her.