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Fontaine, who died aged 96 only hours after Peter O'Toole, was the prototype 'Hitchcock blonde' – attractive, malleable, neurotic
On a sad weekend for the film world, the news of the death of Lawrence of Arabia star Peter O'Toole was swiftly followed by that of the passing away of a leading light of an earlier generation: Joan Fontaine. Fontaine, perhaps best remembered as the prototype of the "Hitchcock blonde" – attractive, malleable, neurotic – died only a few hours after O'Toole, at the age of 96 on Sunday morning at home in Carmel in California.
Fontaine's most notable role was arguably that of the "second Mrs de Winter" in Rebecca, the 1940 adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's gothic novel that marked Alfred Hitchcock's Hollywood debut. he would go on to gain an Oscar nomination for the role in 1940 – and actually win the best actress award a year later for a second Hitchcock film, Suspicion. »
- Andrew Pulver
Joan Fontaine’s star burned brightly, but flickered out quickly. The Oscar-winner died Sunday at age 96, having enjoyed successful collaborations with such directors as Alfred Hitchcock and Max Ophuls during her 1940s’ heyday. For a decade, Fontaine was one of Hollywood’s most successful actresses, bringing sophistication and strength to such films as “Suspicion” and “Jane Eyre.” Yet, her film career did not endure into the 1960s, and after the collapse of the studio system she found herself relegated to television and stage work. Also read: Oscar-Winning Actress Joan Fontaine Dead at 96 Fontaine became equally famous for her tempestuous relationship with sister Olivia De Havilland, »
- Brent Lang
It was hard to cast the lead in Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca, filmed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1939. The female fans of the bestseller were very protective of the naive woman whom the widower Max de Winter marries and transports to his ancestral home of Manderley. None of the contenders – including Vivien Leigh, Anne Baxter and Loretta Young – felt right for the second Mrs de Winter, who was every lending-library reader's dream self.
To play opposite Laurence Olivier in the film, the producer David O Selznick suggested instead a 21-year-old actor with whom he was smitten: Joan Fontaine. The prolonged casting process made Fontaine anxious. Vulnerability was central to the part, and you can see that vulnerability, that inability to trust her own judgment, in every frame of the film. The performance brought Fontaine, who has died »
- Veronica Horwell
It has been a very sad weekend, as two of cinema's most revered talents have passed away. On Saturday, it was Peter O'Toole, and just a day later, Joan Fontaine has left us at the age of 96. While her big screen career was relatively brief—her last theatrical role was in the 1966 film "The Witches"—her impact was undeniable. In the span of three years, she was nominated for an Oscar three times, winning for Best Actress in Alfred Hitchcock's classic "Suspicion" (she was nominated in the same category for "Rebecca" in 1940 and "The Constant Nymph" in 1943). And in general, the 1940s found her doing some of her most memorable work including roles in Robert Stevenson's "Jane Eyre" opposite Orson Welles, Max Ophuls' "Letter From An Unknown Woman" and "Ivy." By the '60s, Fontaine had begun working more steadily in television and on stage, where she »
- Kevin Jagernauth
Oscar-winning actress Joan Fontaine has died, per the AP and multiple news reports. She was 97. Born Joan de Beauvoir de Havilland to British parents in Japan, Fontaine began her film career under contract with Rko in films like The Man Who Found Himself (1937), her official onscreen “introduction,” A Damsel in Distress (1937) opposite Fred Astaire, and George Cukor’s The Women (1939). A year after leaving Rko, Fontaine starred in the gothic thriller Rebecca as a woman haunted by her new husband’s (Laurence Olivier) dead wife. The film, Alfred Hitchcock‘s American debut, was nominated for 11 Oscars and won two including Best Picture. Fontaine earned her first Best Actress nod and reteamed with Hitch the following year for another domestic thriller, Suspicion, which won her the Academy Award over sister Olivia de Havilland, who was herself nominated for Hold Back The Dawn. Fontaine’s third Best Actress nomination was awarded for 1943′s The Constant Nymph. »
- THE DEADLINE TEAM
15 December 2013 6:43 PM, PST | IMDb News
Academy Award-winning actress Joan Fontaine, the leading lady known for her string of roles as demure, well-mannered and often well-bred heroines in the 1940s, and the younger sister of actress Olivia de Havilland, died today at her home in Carmel, California; she was 96.
Known best for her back-to-back roles in two Alfred Hitchcock thrillers -- the 1940 Best Picture winner Rebecca and the 1941 film Suspicion, for which she won a Best Actress Oscar, making her the ony actor in a Hitchcock film to receive an Academy Award -- she and her sister were enshrined in Hollywood lore as intense rivals, and their rivalry reached a peak of sorts when Fontaine beat de Havilland for the 1941 Best Actress Oscar.
Born Joan de Beauvoir de Havilland in 1917 in Tokyo, Japan, Fontaine suffered from recurring ailments throughout her childhood, resulting in her mother moving both her and Olivia to California. While her mother, stage actress Lillian Fontaine, desired for both her daughters to be actresses, it was only Olivia who initially pursued an acting career, as Fontaine returned to Japan for two years when she was 15 years old to live with her father, who divorced Lillian in 1919. Upon returning to the states, Fontaine found that Olivia was already becoming an established actress, and began to embark on her own career. Starting out in theater, Joan initially changed her name to Joan Burfield, then Joan Fontaine (so as to avoid confusion with her sister), and soon found herself in moderately noteworthy parts in such films as You Can't Beat Love (1937), A Damsel in Distress (1937, opposite Fred Astaire) and Gunga Din (1939, alongside Cary Grant, her future leading man in Suspicion). Though she garnered more notice in 1939 in the supporting part of naive newlywed Peggy Day in the classic comedy The Women, she was far eclipsed in fame and reputation by her sister, who had already starred along Errol Flynn in a number of romance adventures, and who received her first Oscar nomination for the blockbuster Gone With the Wind.
It was the same man who cast de Havilland in Gone With the Wind who would make Fontaine into a major star. Looking to follow up the monstrous success of Gone With the Wind with another noteworthy literary adapation, producer David O. Selnick snapped up the rights to the Daphne du Maurier bestseller Rebecca, in which an unnamed, demure heroine -- known only as "the second Mrs. de Winter" -- is taunted by the memory of her husband's first wife, the beautiful and seductive title character. Selznick brought director Alfred Hitchcock over for his first American production, cast matinee idol and rising star Laurence Olivier as moody, mysterious husband Maxim de Winter, and embarked on a Scarlett O'Hara-style talent search for his leading lady. Rejecting Loretta Young, Margaret Sullavan, Vivian Leigh (then Olivier's wife), and a then-unknown Anne Baxter along with hundreds of other actresses, Selznick decided on Fontaine, who though not an established star projected the right mix of beauty, insecurity, and tenacity needed for the part. Fontaine's insecurity, however, was heightened by Olivier's sometimes cruel treatment of her on set, as he had lobbied aggressively for Leigh to get the role, and Hitchcock capitalized on her inferiority complex to shape her performance. The resulting film, released in 1940, was an unqualified critical and financial success, catapulting Fontaine into the tier of top Hollywood leading ladies, establishing Hitchcock firmly in the United States, and nabbing the film 11 Academy Award nominations, includine ones for both Fontaine and Olivier; it would go on to win Best Picture.
Selznick, pleased with the combination of Hitchcock and Fontaine, signed the two on for a follow-up about a demure heiress who begins to suspect that her playboy husband is out to murder her for her money. Initially titled Before the Fact, it would later be retitled Suspicion, and Cary Grant was cast as the charming but caddish husband. Though the final ending of the film was tinkered with -- studio heads thought making Grant guilty would be bad for box office, and insisted on a twist to make him actually heroic -- it was another success, earning three Oscar nominations, including Fontaine's second Best Actress nod. It was at the 1941 Academy Awards that Fontaine, once considered the also-ran to her movie star sister, beat Olivia de Havilland for the Best Actress Oscar (de Havilland had been nominated for Hold Back the Dawn). In what became part of Hollywood and Academy Award legend, Fontaine coolly rejected her sister's efforts at congratulations, and What had always been a fractious relationship since childhood became officially estranged. Hollywood wags often reported that because de Havilland lost to her sister, she would retaliate by winning two Oscars -- in 1946 for To Each His Own and 1949 for The Heiress -- in order to top Fontaine. The two would officially stop speaking to one another in 1975.
Fontaine received a third Oscar nomination in 1943, for the music melodrama The Constant Nymph, and that same year essayed the title role in the commercially successful if moderately well-regarded version of Jane Eyre opposite Orson Welles. She remained a star throughout the 1940s, appearing in the comedy The Affairs of Susan (1945), the thriller Ivy (1947), and opposite Bing Crosby in The Emperor Waltz (1948). Fontaine also gave what many consider to be her best performance in 1948's Letters from an Unknown Woman, Max Ophuls' romantic drama opposite Louis Jourdan. In 1945 she divorced her first husband, actor Brian Aherne, and in 1946 married producer William Dozier, whom she would divorce in 1951. Two years later, she was embroiled in a bitter custody battle with him over their daughter, Debbie, and the ongoing lawsuit would prevent Fontaine from accepting the role of frustrated military wife Karen Holmes in the Oscar-winning drama From Here to Eternity -- Deborah Kerr was instead cast, and received an Oscar nomination for the part.
Though she continued to work throughout the 1950s, most notably in the lavish Technicolor adaptation of Ivanhoe (1952), Ida Lupino's film noir The Bigamist (1953), and in the pioneering if often campy racial drama Island in the Sun (1957), her work in both film and television lessened, and her last film appearance was in Hammer Films horror movie The Devil's Own (1966). Television work followed in the 1970s and 1980s, and Fontaine received a Daytime Emmy nomination for the soap opera Ryan's Hope. She published an autobiography, No Bed of Roses, in 1978, and after the television film Good King Wenceslas (1994), retired officially to her home in Carmel, California.
Fontaine is survived by her daughter, Debbie Dozier. »
- Mark Englehart
Cool beauty Joan Fontaine, who gave strong performances in a number of classic films including Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rebecca” and Max Ophuls’ “Letter From an Unknown Woman,” died Sunday at her home in Carmel, Calif. She was 96.
Though acclaimed for her talent and elegance, the actress was equally well known for her decades-long feud with sister Olivia de Havilland.
Her porcelain beauty sometimes underlined an icy hauteur (which became more pronounced in later years), but she is best remembered for performances of vulnerability, such as in “The Constant Nymph” (her personal favorite) and Hitchcock’s “Suspicion,” which brought her an Oscar.
The daughter of Lillian Ruse and Walter de Havilland, Fontaine was born in Tokyo (she was 18 months younger than Olivia). Her parents divorced soon after, and her mother brought the two young girls to live in Saratoga, in Northern California, where she taught diction and voice control.
Her mother »
- Richard Natale
It's 100 years since the first volume of À La Recherche du Temps Perdu was published, but a definitive cinematisation of Proust's epic novel has so far proved elusive
This year has been punctuated by a rash of anniversary-themed books and articles anticipating the first world war centenary, and indeed attempting snapshots of how Europe looked and felt in 1913, eerily poised on the precipice. The other centenary is similar in many ways: on 8 November 1913, Marcel Proust published the first volume of À La Recherche du Temps Perdu, his monumental novel about memory, mortality and art, the belle époque, and the leisured and aristocratic classes of Paris, a city crammed in Proust's pages with the most vivid and extraordinary personalities, destined to be swept away by the Great War.
- Peter Bradshaw
"Dedicated to gathering the greatest films from around the world and publishing them in editions of the highest technical quality." For cinephiles, it's amusing to watch two very talented filmmakers geeking out while raiding the DVD/Br closets of the Criterion Collection. Inbetween the Telluride and Toronto Film Festivals, directors Alfonso Cuarón (of Gravity) & Pawel Pawlikowski (of Ida) stopped by the Criterion offices in New York City and stole made off with a bunch of DVDs from their archives. A short video has hit the web showing the two discussing classics and picking out favorites, and now we can watch them geek out. Thanks to RopeofSilicon for the tip. Here's a list of all the Criterion films mentioned or shown in the video: Vivre Sa Vie (Jean-Luc Godard/1962), Lola Montes (Max Ophuls/1955), The Complete Jean Vigo, To Be or Not To Be (Ernst Lubitsch/1942), A Man Escaped (Robert Bresson/1956), Larisa Shepitko Series, »
- Alex Billington
Sixty years ago this week, on September 16, 1953, The Earrings of Madame de... premiered in Paris, which is as good an excuse as any to celebrate the various ways in which Max Ophüls’ masterpiece has been promoted over the years.
Since it is one of the most gorgeous and luxurious films ever made—Ophüls’ camera never seems to stop gliding and waltzing through the most opulent of settings—it is interesting how simple two of the most striking posters for the film are. The 1961 German poster and the 1959 Polish poster, both notably designed by women, are both in black and white (as is the film, gloriously so, but it was still unusual for posters of the period to be monochrome) and both pare the film down to a woman and her jewelry. In fact, they not only focus on the eponymous socialite but they isolate her in details. The German poster, »
- Adrian Curry
Above: Spectacular full-scale derailment from the 1931 version of The Ghost Train (and also the 1941 version).
Arnold Ridley is fondly remembered in the UK as one of the stars of seventies sitcom Dad’s Army, about an incompetent and mainly superannuated group of volunteer soldiers in the WWII home guard, a show which made Ridley a national star at age 72 (it continued until he was 81). His sweetly doddering persona made a brilliant foil to the petulant Arthur Lowe, the dithering John Le Mesurier and gloomy Scot John Laurie.
One day, shooting on location in a graveyard, one of Ridley’s younger co-stars mused, “Hardly worth your leaving, is it, Arnold?” A rather harsh bit of humor: if you find it too mean, take comfort in the fact that the young thesp predeceased Ridley by some years, owing to liver failure. What larks!
But looong before Dad’s Army, Arnold Ridley found »
- David Cairns
Ain’t Misbehavin’ – Marcel Ophüls
Section: Tiff Docs
Dates: Tuesday 10th, Thursday 12th, Sunday 15th
Buzz: The freewheeling memoir Ain’t Misbehavin’ (titled Un Voyageur in French) screened alongside Frank Pavich’s Jodorowsky’s Dune during Director’s Fortnight at Cannes. While the latter is perhaps the most buzzed about Tiff Doc, the first feature from Marcel Ophüls in nearly two decades should not be overlooked. The son of celebrated German-Jewish filmmaker Max Ophüls (The Earrings of Madame de …) and friend of François Truffaut, the master documentarian, now eighty-five years old, has lived an extraordinary life. Marcel Ophüls won the Academy Award for Best Documentary and the Fipresci Award at Cannes for Hotel Terminus (1988), while his Oscar nominated, four-hour long The Sorrow and The Pity (1969), that explored French resistance and collaboration with Nazis was memorialized in Annie Hall. After the endless critical praise for his Holocaust-related material, it will be »
- Caitlin Coder
It’s tough to miss a film festival where a highly anticipated movie is playing, but it’s a lot easier to handle when the reaction bursting out of the theater is roundly positive. Excitedly positive. None of this, “It was okay, but…” nonsense clouding the expectations game for something we want to blow our minds. Enter Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity. With stratospheric hopes, the new partnership between the Children of Men director and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki lands in theaters in early October, but Venice Film Festival goers got an early look, and apparently their eyes are completely dilated. Here are some choice reactions: Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter “Houston, I have a bad feeling about this mission,” George Clooney‘s veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski half-jokes at the outset from his perch in orbit around Earth, which looms massively beneath. It’s a sentiment few viewers will agree with once their jaws begin dropping at Cuaron’s »
- Scott Beggs
About halfway through Alfonso Cuaron’s astonishing “Gravity,” Sandra Bullock, playing a lost astronaut stranded 375 miles above Earth, seeks refuge in an abandoned spacecraft and curls into a floating fetal position, savoring a brief respite from her harrowing journey. Of the many sights to behold in this white-knuckle space odyssey, a work of great narrative simplicity and visual complexity, it’s this image that speaks most eloquently to Cuaron’s gifts as a filmmaker: He’s the rare virtuoso capable of steering us through vividly imagined worlds and into deep recesses of human feeling. Suspending viewers alongside Bullock for a taut, transporting 91 minutes (with George Clooney in a sly supporting turn), the director’s long-overdue follow-up to “Children of Men” is at once a nervy experiment in blockbuster minimalism and a film of robust movie-movie thrills, restoring a sense of wonder, terror and possibility to the bigscreen that should inspire »
- Justin Chang
Maisie goes to Manhattan in this fine modern-day adaptation of Henry James's novel of irresponsible parenting
Henry James famously failed in his attempts to become a popular playwright in the 1890s and apparently never thought, like his friend Joseph Conrad, to engage with the new medium of the cinema. But starting some 30 years after his death, his fiction has reached a larger audience as a source of screenplays. Immediately after the second world war The Aspern Papers, shot in Hollywood on stylised Venetian sets, became the underrated The Lost Moment (the only film directed by the actor Martin Gabel) and was followed by William Wyler's highly regarded The Heiress (a version of Washington Square). Since then there have been a dozen or more James movies, adapting such complex books as The Golden Bowl, The Portrait of a Lady and The Wings of the Dove, and "the Master" has »
- Philip French
Chicago – French films from the ’50s can be a tough sell to a modern audience and Max Ophuls’ “The Earrings of Madame De…” recently upgraded by Criterion to a gorgeous Blu-ray edition and re-released on DVD, hasn’t gotten the critical attention it deserves over the years and so it’s not as instantly recognizable as “something that should be seen” as some of the other films of its era. Trust me. This is “something that should be seen” by everyone.
Don’t believe me? P.T. Anderson (“Boogie Nights,” “There Will Be Blood,” “The Master”), a candidate for the title of best living director offers an “introduction” to the film on the Criterion Blu-ray. It’s more than a mere introduction. It’s a mini-class, a semi-commentary over 15 minutes of the film. Anderson helps illuminate what’s so great about “Madame” and Ophuls’ work in general. However, once you watch the film, »
- email@example.com (Adam Fendelman)
Seconds (The Criterion Collection)
The Earrings Of Madame De... (The Criterion Collection)
Scary Seconds And Jewel-laden Irony
Among the new releases this month from The Criterion Collection, that Cadillac of Blu-Ray/DVD labels, are two oldies-but-goodies—and very different ones—that will impress both the average film lover and the hardcore art house enthusiast. For me, the most anticipated title was Seconds, the 1966 paranoia-science fiction-mystery-thriller directed by John Frankenheimer, and starring Rock Hudson in a cast-against-type role. There’s no question that the picture was ahead of its time. The circumstances sound familiar—it was a very intelligent, well-made, strikingly photographed genre movie that audiences found too strange or unpleasant, and it flopped... but later, because it really was good, it became a cult classic.
Seconds is a shocking film today; in 1966, it was radical. It was considered an “adults-only” movie, even though its release was prior »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Cinema Retro)
More tears are shed over answered prayers than unanswered ones, Saint Teresa of Avila reputedly opined, but she never met Louise, Madame de... (Danielle Darrieux). For the vain, tragic heroine of Max Ophuls' "The Earrings of Madame de..." (1953), the price of a direct line to the heavens comes in a foreign currency. Foreign to her, at least: in church to pray that her jeweler will accept the titular earrings (a wedding gift from her husband) in return for some much-needed cash, Madame de... hurries through her rote offering as though she read about it in an instruction manual. She's more adept at measuring other rates of exchange, assessing the value of furs and the cost of flirtations, feigning a woozy spell in the jeweler's office to make the deal stick. "After all, they're mine," she says of her baubles. "I can do with them as I please." Or so she thinks. »
- Matt Brennan
Joan Fontaine movies: ‘This Above All,’ ‘Letter from an Unknown Woman’ (photo: Cary Grant, Joan Fontaine in ‘Suspicion’ publicity image) (See previous post: “Joan Fontaine Today.”) Also tonight on Turner Classic Movies, Joan Fontaine can be seen in today’s lone TCM premiere, the flag-waving 20th Century Fox release The Above All (1942), with Fontaine as an aristocratic (but socially conscious) English Rose named Prudence Cathaway (Fontaine was born to British parents in Japan) and Fox’s top male star, Tyrone Power, as her Awol romantic interest. This Above All was directed by Anatole Litvak, who would guide Olivia de Havilland in the major box-office hit The Snake Pit (1948), which earned her a Best Actress Oscar nod. In Max Ophüls’ darkly romantic Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948), Fontaine delivers not only what is probably the greatest performance of her career, but also one of the greatest movie performances ever. Letter from an Unknown Woman »
- Andre Soares
Moviefone's Top DVD of the Week
What's It About? In "A Place Beyond the Pines" Derek Cianfrance ("Blue Valentine") weaves together three vignettes starring Ryan Gosling as a bleach blonde, motorcycle-riding bank robber, Eva Mendes as a tough single mother, and Bradley Cooper as a conflicted cop. The first part of the film follows Luke (Gosling) as he robs banks to support his unexpected child and to win back the mother Romina (Mendes). Halfway through "Pines" breaks off to tell the story of Avery (Cooper), a wounded cop who discovers corruption in his department.
Why We're In: While "Pines" breaks off suddenly in various directions, the film's audacious screenplay and structure are what make it so powerful and compelling. Cianfrance's drama is one of novelistic proportions and definitely worth its long running time.
Rt & Follow to win @FocusFeatures' Place Beyond The Pines Combo Pack! #BeyondThePines »
- Erin Whitney
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