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.

Friday, 11 March 2016

4 1950s ladies: June, Jane, Joan, Dorothy

Those 1950s leading ladies were certainly kept busy in that very busy decade: not only Marilyn and Liz Taylor (4 films in 1954 before she did GIANT in 1955), Grace (also 4 in 1954) and Audrey, Janet, Kim, Ava, Susan Hayward, Deborah Kerr, Jean Simmons, Julie Harris, Doris and Debbie, Sandra Dee and Carol Lynley and those exciting new girls: Lee Remick, Shirley McLaine, Joanne Woodward, Eva Marie Saint, Natalie Wood, Carroll Baker (a serious actress then) and Jean Seberg.
Bardot. Loren, La Lollo, Mangano, Anita Ekberg, Leslie Caron burst forth from Europe, while Claire Bloom,  Kay Kendall, Glynis Johns and Joan Collins emerged from England (where Yvonne Mitchell, Sylvia Syms, Virginia McKenna, Diana Dors and more were leading players), Then there's that second tier including Angela Lansbury (still in supporting parts in the '50s), Vera Miles, Martha Hyer, Shelley Winters, Gloria Graham, Ruth Roman, Cyd Charisse, Mitzi Gaynor, Dorothy Malone, Jane Russell, Virginia Mayo, Ann Blyth, Jan Sterling, Rhonda Fleming, Yvonne De Carlo, Debra Paget, Jayne Mansfield ... and the arrival of Stella Stevens, Angie Dickinson, Hope Lange, while starlets Pier Angeli, Gia Scala, Inger Stevens, Kathryn Grant, Tuesday Weld, Diane Baker, Suzy Parker got their breaks (or not) ... while the 1940s and 1930s stars were gainfully employed too: Ingrid Bergman back, bigger than ever, Bacall, Baxter, O'Hara. Vivien Leigh, Rita and Lana, sisters Olivia and Joan, plus 'oldies' Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Katharine Hepburn, Barbara Stanwyck. European actresses like Anna Magnani and Simone Signoret delivered Oscar-winning performances. (This is turning into an issue of "Who's Who in Hollywood" - have I forgot anyone?).
Here are 4 more: June Allyson, Jane Wyman, Dorothy McGuire and Joan Collins ...
Remembering the great female stars of the 1950s one usually overlooks June Allyson (1917-2006), but there she was, busy throughout the decade, usually cast as devoted wives (THE GLENN MILLER STORY, THE STRATTON STORY, STRATEGIC AIR COMMAND all with James Stewart), and usually wearing those buttoned up blouses and white gloves .... she was popular in the late 1940s with her sweet smile, husky voice and sunny disposition, the ideal girl next door, with films like LITTLE WOMEN, WORDS AND MUSIC and GOOD NEWS (that "Varsity Drag" number!). Critic David Shipman is rather caustic about her in his "The Great Movie Stars" tome). She did several remakes: MY MAN GODFREY and our favourite here, THE OPPOSITE SEX in 1956, that musical remake of the 1939 camp classic THE WOMEN) - THE OPPOSITE SEX is almost as camp as a great raft of 1950s gals wear fabulous frocks and June leads the cast, laying into Joan Collins as mantrap Crystal Allen - thats a bitchslap above. She is also in a rather good Sirk: INTERLUDE set in Germany, 1957, and a Ross Hunter: STRANGER IN MY ARMS in 1959 See Allyson label. She was also in the all-star EXECUTIVE SUITE in 1954 when she also did our other favourite: Negulesco's marvellous WOMAN'S WORLD where she is another ditzy housewife ... June later went into television and was married to Dick Powell.

Jane Wyman (1917-2007) was also very popular in the 1950s, particularly after Sirk's MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION in 1954 and ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS in 1955. (Review at Wyman label). She began in the early 1930s and her 111 credit on IMDB include JOHNNY BELINDA (for which she won Best Actress Oscar in 1948), Hitch's STAGE FRIGHT in 1950, THE GLASS MENAGERIE, LUCY GALLANT, Aunt Polly in POLLYANNA.and later coasted as devoted wives in HOLIDAY FOR LOVERS and BON VOYAGE. She later had a long stint in FALCON CREST and of course the obligatory MURDER, SHE WROTE. She had of course been married to Ronald Reagan in the 1940s.

Dorothy McGuire (196-2001) always seemed the perfect wife and mother, in films like Wyler's FRIENDLY PERSUASION, a fond memory from 1956, particlarly her scenes with Coop and Samantha the goose, Disney's OLD YELLER, the superior sudser A SUMMER PLACE in 1959 (see review at McGuire label), and the less superior SUSAN SLADE. Then there's the fun SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON and the enrosssing William Inge drama THE DARK AT THE TOP OF THE STAIRS, also 1960. Her other popular films included CLAUDIA, Kazan's A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN in 1945, THE ENCHANTED COTTAGE, THE SPIRAL STAIRCASE, GENTLEMAN'S AGREEMENT, THREE COINS IN THE FOUNTAIN,  In 1965 she played the greatest mother of all, in George Stevens' THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD. She had also done a lot of theatre and later television including RICH MAN POOR MAN
IMDB says: "A genuine model of sincerity, practicality and dignity in most of the roles she inhabited, actress Dorothy McGuire offered Tinseltown more talent than it probably knew what to do with." 

What can one say about Joan Collins? the great survivor, still visible now in her 80s. After her British movies like THE GOOD DIE YOUNG (1954) and TURN THE KEY SOFTLY, she relocated to Hollywood - we love her evil Nellifer with the ruby in her navel in Hawks' LAND OF THE PHAROAHS in '55 (right), and her Crystal (as bitchy as Joan Crawford in the original) in THE OPPOSITE SEX for MGM (left, in that amusing 'tropical' number), before her stint at 20th Century Fox: improbably out west in THE BRAVADOS, THE VIRGIN QUEEN (that was Bette Davis), ISLAND IN THE SUNTHE WAYWARD BUS, a funny vamp in RALLY ROUND THE FLAG BOYS, a stripper in SEVEN THIEVES etc Television rescued her from the likes of KINGDOM OF THE ANTS in the 1980s as we tuned in to her Alexis Colby every week in DYNASTY - London's gay nightclub Heaven used to show her catfights with Krystle, like that fight in the lily pond, on a loop, as we danced. Her tell-alls have been amusing too, particularly on the likes of Warren Beatty and her other lovers.

The early '60s of course brought in that new lot: the emergence of Jane Fonda, Ann-Margret, Suzanne Pleshette, ditzy Pamela Tiffin; the British new girls led by Julie Christie, Susannah York, Sarah Miles, Rita Tushingham, Samantha Eggar, Jane Asher, Jane Merrow; plus the Europeans emerging from the arthouse to the local Odeon: Moreau, Vitti, Cardinale, Romy Schneider, Anouk Aimee, Ingrid Thulin, Mercouri, sisters Deneuve and Dorleac, Elke Sommer & Senta Berger, then mid-decade the arrival of Julie Andrews, Faye Dunaway and the Redgrave girls and, er, Raquel Welch ... while the late '60s saw Maggie and Glenda, Barbra and Liza ready to sweep the '70s ...


  1. How about:
    Julia Adams - Creature from the Black Lagoon
    Anne Francis - Forbidden Planet
    Dana Wynter - Invasion of the Body Snatchers
    Gloria Talbot - I Married a Monster from Outer Space.

    and those 2 other european beauties: Mylene Demongeot and Elsa Martinelli.

    Apart from that, very comprehensive.

  2. All four were wonderful in their unique way. I've been working on seeing the more obscure films of many of my favorite classic actresses and all these ladies are included.

    June's best seem to also be her best known, and I'm crazy for Woman's World, although I've yet to be able to catch up with The McConnell Story. Of her offbeat tries The Shrike is interesting but generally unmemorable.

    I'm not nearly as complete with Miss McGuire's filmography but the lesser known soaper Invitation with another great 50's actress, Ruth Roman, is overblown and all the more enjoyable for it. Another underknown gem of hers where she's in full on Stanwyck ball-buster mode is "This Earth is Mine" joined by the divine pair of Jean Simmons and Claude Rains with Rock Hudson along as well.

    I'm missing a lot of very early Jane Wyman where she was working her way up in small parts but one I do have a special fondness for is The Doughgirls. Love the entire film but especially Jane since she plays someone so atypical to her later image, a sweet but borderline idiot.

    Joan is the one I'm thinnest on for a variety of reasons: she's a workhorse, much of her output is foreign lensed, some is unavailable. But I did just recently catch up with The Wayward Bus where she was excellent and unfortunately Empire of the Ants where she was at least able to hold onto her dignity in that claptrap mess. My favorite of hers will probably always remain The Opposite Sex though.

  3. Nice comments. The '50s though does seem a prime time for all those actresses from the B-girls up to the main stars of the era, while the oldsters were still working too ... Ruth Roman is a particular favourite of mine now, and the wonderful Arlene Dahl who steals WOMAN'S WORLD.

  4. Just a few more of those 60s girls .....

    Carol White, Charlotte Rampling, Jacqueline Bisset, Julia Foster, Barbara Ferris, and Mia Farrow !

  5. Eleanor Parker - ignored again !

  6. Taina Elg, Mary Ure, Patricia Owens, Elaine Stewart, Barbara Rush, Janice Rule, Susan Kohner (marvellous in Imitation of Life), France Nuyen, Terry Moore, Carolyn Jones, Dianne Foster, Diane Varsi, Jean Hagen if only for Singin in the Rain!

  7. I've just downloaded iStripper, so I can watch the best virtual strippers on my desktop.