Young Bess (1953)
Among those featured in "TCM Remembers 2011" are Farley Granger, the star of Luchino Visconti's Senso and Alfred Hitchcock's Rope and Strangers on a Train; Oscar-nominated Australian actress Diane Cilento (Tom Jones, Hombre), formerly married to Sean Connery; and two-time Oscar nominee Peter Falk (Murder, Inc., Pocketful of Miracles, The Great Race), best remembered as television's Columbo. Or, for those into arthouse fare, for playing an angel in Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire.
Also, Jane Russell, whose cleavage and sensuous lips in Howard Hughes' The Outlaw left the puritans of the Production Code Association apoplectic; another Australian performer, Googie Withers, among
The big story
"Mother ... Father ... Always you wrestle inside of me. Always you will. Oh ... and what's going on again?"
This week it emerged that Sean Penn seems to have been as mystified by The Tree of Life as the rest of us. "The screenplay is the most magnificent one that I've ever read but I couldn't find that same emotion on screen," said the actor of Terrence Malick's graceful meditation on the meaning of life / unnaturally long ode to self-involvement.
"A clearer and more conventional narrative would have helped the film without, in my opinion, lessening its beauty and its impact," said Penn. "Frankly, I'm still trying to figure out what I'm doing there and what
Young Bess (1953)
Director: George Sidney
Entertainment grade: C+
History grade: B
Princess Elizabeth of England, known as Bess, was born in 1533, the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. She would become queen as Elizabeth I in 1558.
At the beginning of the film, the infant Bess is in the care of her nursemaid, Katherine Ashley, who has an appalling habit of talking about her in a syrupy voice using the first person plural: "All we have to do is to see to it that our new stepmother likes us, our appearance, our little ways, and our manners." The princess is being taken to meet her father's latest wife, Anne of Cleves. "Now listen carefully," says Mrs Ashley, wagging her finger. "This one is German. Don't forget that. After all, it's not her fault.
The seductive brunette Elaine Stewart, who has died aged 81, may have lacked that ineffable essence that makes up star quality, but she had enough allure to attract attention in several glossy Hollywood movies in the 1950s, both in leading parts and noteworthy supporting roles. Among the best of the latter were her brief though memorable appearances in two films directed by Vincente Minnelli.
She was both bad and beautiful in The Bad and the Beautiful (1952) as Lila, a wannabe film star, hoping to make it by sleeping with Jonathan Shields (Kirk Douglas), the studio head. When told that Shields is a great man, Lila responds, "There are no great men, buster. There's only men." The scene which lingers most in the mind is when Georgia Lorrison (Lana Turner), who has just triumphed in a Shields movie, leaves a
Simmons' career often reads like a lesson in what might have been. She rose to early success in films such as David Lean's Great Expectations and Laurence Olivier's Hamlet (which earned her an Oscar nomination) before running afoul of her contract holder, Howard Hughes. After rejecting his advances, he attempted to ruin her career and cost her the lead in Roman Holiday. Simmons held out, and managed success with roles in Young Bess, Footsteps in the Fog, Guys and Dolls, and The Actress.
Due to financial strain, she quietly accepted any role offered, and Simmons became known as the quiet lady who supported great men in films like The Robe, The Egyptian, Desiree, Elmer Gantry, and Spartacus. She always rose above the material, and
Jean Simmons, who has died aged 80, had a bounteous moment, early in her career, when she seemed the likely casting for every exotic or magical female role. It passed, as she got out of her teens, but then for the best part of 15 years, in Britain and America, she was a valued actress whose generally proper, if not patrician, manner had an intriguing way of conflicting with her large, saucy eyes and a mouth that began to turn up at the corners as she imagined mischief – or more than her movies had in their scripts. Even in the age of Vivien Leigh and Elizabeth Taylor, she was an authentic beauty. And there were always hints that the lady might be very sexy. But nothing worked out smoothly, and it is somehow typical of Simmons that her most astonishing
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