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, 20 January 2014

The travelling lady

I just had to buy an expensive book on Lee Remick, one of our favourite actresses, which turned out to be good value, as it is a comprehensive biography (below) with full details of her career on film, stage and television, and it led me to a terrific interview with her, in 1988, where she looks back at her career and comments on all her roles, "while curled up on a sofa at her mother's apartment in Park Avenue" (she died in 1991). This is in the November 1988 issue of "Films In Review", that compact size terrific little magazine (I had a few copies back then) which I easily located on eBay, for a fair price. 
Its been a season of Lee Remick discoveries, what with the BBC magazines "Radio Times" covering her BBC roles in SUMMER AND SMOKE, THE AMBASSADORS and THE VISION - as per Remick label; and then Roddy McDowall's home movies where she features several times, at Malibu in that 1965 summer (below) .... so I have gone back to some of her films. First up: BABY THE RAIN MUST FALL, Robert Mulligan's neat drama from 1965, which we have posted about here before ...

Steve McQueen and Lee Remick ignite sparks in this impassioned drama about a rootless drifter and the woman who loves him. We first see Georgette with her small daughter on the bus to Columbus, Texas, where she joins her husband Henry who has just been paroled from the state penitentiary. He was serving time for stabbing a man in a drunken brawl. He hopes now to have a career as a songwriter as he returns to singing and playing his guitar in rowdy roadhouses. Slim (Don Murrary) is Henry's childhood friend and now the deputy sheriff and he now grows attached to Georgette and the child and does what he can to keep the volatile Henry in line. But when Henry's tantrums become increasingly more violent, Slim is forced to stop him, bringing the film to an unexpected climax.

This all looks marvellous in that perfect black and white photography of the time and is the equal to those other Mulligan-Pakula films of the era: TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD and LOVE WITH THE PROPER STRANGER, and it also has another just right Elmer Bernstein score. It is based on Horton Foote's play "The Travelling Lady" and is another perfect role for Remick, full of that yearning longing, as good as her role in WILD RIVER, and captures that small town, rural America perfectly - like William Inge territory in THE STRIPPER and BUS RILEY IS BACK IN TOWN.  There is also a hint of American Gothic in Henry's childhood demons and that creepy house where he was abused by his domineering aunt ...

I love this photo of Lee and Kate
I have a few days in Ireland coming up now, but when I get back, its on to: A DELICATE BALANCE, Tony Richardson's 1973 version of Edward Albee, with the powerhouse cast of Katharine Hepburn, Paul Scofield, Remick, Betsy Blair and Kate Reid; LOOT - the very funny 1970 version of Joe Orton's black farce where Lee is deliriously funny as the nurse, got up to look like Jean Harlow and with a comic Irish accent; and that 1975 rarity HENNESSY, and one of her later tv movies: EMMA'S WAR.  

Lee at the London BFI, 1970
Lee relates too in the "Films in Review" interview (with Michael Buckley) how she spent an evening with Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy back in 1955 when they were casting for DESK SET, where the young actress was up for the minor role played by Dina Merrill in the film. Kate was of the opinon she should take roles to get seen, while Spence felt she should wait for the proper break - which she did with Kazan's A FACE IN THE CROWD in 1957 !  In all her interviews Lee comes across as totally natural and unaffected, as indeed she was when I met her in 1970, as per other posts here - she lived in London from 1969-1982 during her second enduring marriage. [Her first husband tv director Bill Colleran (who appears with her in the Malibu home movies) with whom she had two children, died in 2000 aged 77, and her second, assistant director/producer Kip Gowans, who had 2 children from his first marriage, died in 2011 aged 80]. I must dig out those other interviews with her from "Films & Filming" and "Films Illustrated" back in the 70s.  
Below: 1962's DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES, another perennial favourite of ours. What a year for Best Actress nominations: Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis, Geraldine Page, Lee and the winner Anne Bancroft !


  1. Thanks for the heads up about the bio of Lee also one of my favorite actresses. You weren't kidding that the price is steep but I'm going to try the library and hope for the best. Love Baby the Rain Must Fall and was able to recently catch The Running Man which I had been trying in vain to see for years. The movie itself had some flaws and I know that Lee, like most people, found the experience of working with Laurence Harvey so horrid she wouldn't speak of it but she and Alan Bates were at the peak of their respective beauty and the cinematography was gorgeous.

  2. Yes, we discussed BABY THE RAIN MUST FALL the last time I wrote about it! Indeed, its a pricey book, but may be the only one on Remick so I made it my christmas present to myself. The "Films In Reveiw" interview with her in their November 1988 issue is a treat - Lee was a Park Avenue girl (due to her mother's remarriage), as she looks back and comments on all her roles, so its worth seeking out on ebay or suchlike.

    There is also only one very bland scissors and paste book on Deborah Kerr, another favourite, - like Remick, there was no scandal about Kerr, just the one divorce and happy re-marriage. I don't suppose there is anything on Jean Simmons either .... whereas I have given up on Monroe, Taylor, Hepburn (both of them) and Davis books!

    Yes we Like THE RUNNING MAN too, I reviewed it some time back ...