Tag Archives: 1955 in Film

Hollywood Princess: GRACE KELLY (1929-1982), Modeling, Theater, and Film Career, 1946-1956.

FEATURE image: “Grace Kelly 1929 – 1982” by oneredsf1 is marked with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Philadelphia-born Grace Kelly (1929-1982) had a short but dazzling film career in Hollywood. Called the “Greatest Screen Presence in Film,”1 passionate and dramatically talented Grace Kelly was Alfred Hitchcock’s favorite actress when she starred in three of his classic films of the 1950’s: Dial M For Murder (1954), Rear Window (1954) and To Catch a Thief (1955).

After Grace was discovered in 1951 by Gary Cooper who said that Grace was “different from all these actresses we’ve been seeing so much of”2—and cast in High Noon (1951) as Cooper’s movie wife—Grace Kelly’s incomparable charm and allure swiftly impressed Hollywood and the world.

From September 1951 to March 1956 Grace Kelly’s star blazed across the silver screen in eleven major motion pictures for five different Hollywood studios.

Grace on the set of Rear Window

On the set of Rear Window (1954).

In the 1930’s, costume designer Edith Head leaned liberal in her costume designs. By the 1950’s her fashion designs became more conservative.

Grace Kelly in 1954. Kelly was one of the 1950’s fashion icons.

PHOTO credit: “Grace Kelly, 1954” by thefoxling is marked with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Grace Kelly in a chiffon-draped gown by Edith Head in To Catch a Thief (1955).

Edith Head and Grace Kelly became lifelong friends. Edith Head, who was a very busy and successful costume designer in Hollywood, visited Grace in Monaco after Grace became princess.

Grace Kelly and Cary Grant in To Catch a Thief (1955). Kelly and Grant were lifelong friends.

PHOTO credit: “Grace Kelly & Cary Grant, ‘To Catch a Thief’, 1955” by thefoxling is marked with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Grace and Dorothy Towne High Noon

Grace Kelly and her stand-in Dorothy Towne on the set of High Noon (1952).

Lloyd Bridges, Katy Jurado, and Gary Cooper co-starred with Grace Kelly in High Noon. Gary Cooper took credit for discovering Grace. Cooper was impressed with her acting talent, good looks, work ethic, and professionalism.

AFTER MAKING 2 HOLLYWOOD FILMS GRACE KELLY WAS NOMINATED FOR HER FIRST OSCAR FOR BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN FOR JOHN FORD’S MOGAMBO (1953).

Following High Noon for United Artists, Grace’s performance for M-G-M on John Ford’s Mogambo (1953) led to her first Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actress. This was a coup for Grace Kelly who had only made two films and was one of many actresses considered for the role. Neither was Grace the studio’s first choice which was Deborah Kerr. It was mostly thanks to fellow Irish-American John Ford that Kelly who was, of course, half Irish and half German in origin, got the role.

Location filming in Africa began in November 1952 and continued until the end of January 1953. Always looking ahead, Grace’s film career had already turned international. She did Mogambo for a host of reasons not least of which was being able to see Africa with “all expenses paid.” It was a major production, and out of the nervous excitement that seemed to imbue the project for the actors and crew, there shortly developed a sense of cameraderie and confidence. Grace contributed to that professionally exciting spirit and a major outcome was a film which proved successful at the box office and for the careers of its principals—namely, Clark Gable, Ava Gardner, John Ford, and newcomer Grace Kelly.3

Ava Gardner and Grace Kelly in Africa during the filming of Mogambo, M-G-M’s 1953 Technicolor adventure/romantic film directed by John Ford.

Clark Gable repeated the role of big-game hunter Victor Marswell in M-G-M’s 1932 film Red Dust co-starring Jean Harlow and Mary Astor. In the 1953 film, Marswell’s competing love interests were now played by Ava Gardner as Eloise Kelly and Grace Kelly as Linda Nordley.

Grace Kelly was dressed by Helen Rose for Mogambo (John Ford, 1953). Grace wore a memorable well-cut pink shirt and, during dinner one evening, a flower dress which inspired popular imitation. Grace was dressed again by Helen Rose for The Swan in 1956. 

GRACE BEGINS HER FASHION COLLABORATION WITH ACADEMY-AWARD-WINNING COSTUME DESIGNER EDITH HEAD IN 1953.

In July 1953 Grace began work on Dial M For Murder for Warner Brothers where she met Alfred Hitchcock who became a cinematic mentor. Soon after, The Bridges at Toko-Ri (1954) at Paramount Pictures began Grace’s ground-breaking multi-film collaboration with Academy-Award winning costume designer Edith Head.

Grace and Edith Head To Catch A Thief

Grace Kelly in wardrobe by Edith Head for The Bridges of Toko-Ri. Filming began in January 1954.

By this time Grace was becoming as well-known as Audrey Hepburn for her fashion sense, and Edith Head found it a joy to work with her.

Grace Kelly” by twm1340 is marked with CC BY-SA 2.0.

When filming started in January 1954 for The Bridges at Toko-Ri, Grace Kelly had just turned 24 years old. Kelly had already made memorable films. She played Amy Fowler Kane in Fred Zinnemann’s High Noon released in 1952.

In 1953 Kelly appeared with Clark Gable and Ava Gardner in John Ford’s Mogambo in 1953 and received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her perforamnce as Linda Nordley, the third side in a love triangle.

In The Bridges of Toko-Ri Grace played the small but pivotal role of Nancy Brubaker, wife of Lt. Harry Brubaker (William Holden). Kelley wears a sleeveless turtleneck and tan pants in her dressing room on set in 1954.

PHOTO credit: “Grace Kelly 1929 – 1982” by oneredsf1 is marked with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Grace Kelly 1929 – 1982” by oneredsf1 is marked with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

GRACE KELLY APPEARED in 5 FILMS RELEASED IN 1954, INCLUDING HER ACADEMY-AWARD-WINNING BEST ACTRESS PERFORMANCE IN THE COUNTRY GIRL

The year 1954 proved to be a banner year for Grace Kelly’s scintillating Hollywood career. In January 1954 Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window was released. The part of Lisa Carol Fremont solidified Kelly’s image as a fashion icon. A second Hitchcock film, Dial M for Murder, was released in May 1954 which starred Kelly as Margot Mary Wendice.

Other films released in 1954 starring Grace Kelly were Green Fire with Stewart Granger, The Bridges at Toko-Ri with William Holden and The Country Girl with Bing Crosby. In the dressed-down role of Georgie Elgin Grace Kelly’s performance brought her that year’s Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role.

On the set of Green Fire in 1953 Grace Kelly wears a belted beige dress and matching sunhat.

PHOTO credit: “Grace Kelly 1929 – 1982” by oneredsf1 is marked with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Kelly had been working constantly since 1951. She made the entertaining color action feature The Bridges at Toko-Ri for Paramount Pictures. The film is significant for at least the fact that it started the collaboration of Grace Kelly with costume designer Edith Head. After Grace Kelly left Hollywood, she and Edith Head remained great friends and Head would visit Kelly in Monaco right up to the time of Kelly’s untimely death in mid-September 1982 at 52 years old.

Before meeting Prince Rainier III in May 1955 upon leading the American delegation that year to the Cannes Film Festival and making the Hitchcock thriller, To Catch a Thief, with Cary Grant, Grace had her share of romantic false starts, including during the making of The Bridges at Toko-Ri.

Grace Kelly and William Holden play the husband-and-wife lead roles in Paramount Pictures’ 1954 war film, The Bridges at Toko-Ri. During filming, Grace Kelly fell madly in love with her Bill Holden, her co-star, who was married and 11 years older.

PHOTO image: “Grace Kelly 1929 – 1982” by oneredsf1 is marked with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Off screen Grace Kelly had fallen madly in love with co-star William Holden. Holden was 11 years older than Grace Kelly—and married. But they had an affair throughout the making of the picture. The electricity of that affair is evident in the love scenes where they played movie husband and wife.

In The Bridges at Toko-Ri Grace Kelly is Nancy Brubaker, the young wife of Navy pilot Lieutenant Harry Brubaker (Holden). A husband and father, Brubaker never wanted to be a flyer in the Navy and still wants out. Yet he accepts a very risky and dangerous mission during the Korean War and is killed in action. The commander asks—is it really a good mission if lives of good men are lost? The film is based on a novel by James Michener who recounted actual missions he covered as a correspondent on U.S. air craft carriers that were flying bombing missions on railroad bridges in North Korea in 1951 and 1952.

In The Bridges at Toko-Ri Grace Kelly played Nancy Brubaker, the wife of a U.S. Navy pilot (William Holden) who is killed in action in the Korean War. Grace is radiant in every scene in which she appears.

Though Kelly has a relatively small part in the war film, she is radiant in every scene. This is the first film where Grace Kelly appears in bed. Directed by prolific Marc Robson, The Bridges at Toko-Ri was one of the biggest hits of his career. Lyn Murray composed the musical score. Murray started in Hollywood in 1950 doing vocal arrangements for Walt Disney but soon was writing music for feature films throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s.

The film is a noisy and straightforward tale of one small American family in war-time. It combines humor notably provided by Mickey Rooney as CPO NAP Mike Forney that soon collides with war’s high-stakes mortal danger whose scenes look to presage Vietnam. The film’s cooperation with the U.S. Navy led to realistic and spectacular aerial and carrier action scenes that, in 1956, won the Academy Award for Best Special Effects.

Holden as Airman Brubaker tenderly expresses his sense of loss when his fellow airmen Mike Forney and Nestor Gamidge (Earl Holliman) are whisked off to other navy assignments. Their entire job was to save the lives of airmen in battle—and had saved Brubaker’s – so that their sudden professional absence is personally and deeply felt.

This is a film of the mid 1950s with caring commanders who look and talk remarkably like Ike, then President of the United States and who had just ended the Korean action in July 1953. Chain smoking by nearly everyone in the cast appears to be de rigueur. Listening to navy radio Lieutenant Harry Brubaker is riveted hearing a broadcast from Chicago’s famous Chez Paree nightclub showcasing jazz trumpeter Henry Busse. The local flair and period cultural items add interest to the fine acting and timeless beauty of Grace Kelly along with the film’s fact-based war story and blockbuster action. Almost 70 years after its initial release, The Bridges at Toko-Ri continues to be a worthwhile entertainment.

Grace Kelly” by manitou2121 is marked with CC BY 2.0

FIXED rear window 001

In Rear Window released in the summer of 1954, Grace Kelly received equal billing with co-star Jimmy Stewart and director Alfred Hitchcock.

Grace refused other lucrative film offers to work again with Hitchcock, this time at Paramount Pictures, on Rear Window co-starring Jimmy Stewart. In this landmark mystery thriller film which came out in summer 1954, one of Hitchcock’s dramatic emphases for Grace Kelly’s film persona was to display her natural elegance and sex appeal—he was amused by her public image as an “Ice Queen”4—by having her costumed in an array of fabulous Edith-Head-designed lingerie, dresses, and pants. Growing up in Philadelphia Grace Kelly as an adolescent and teenager had modeled in local fashion shows but, by the middle 1950’s in her mid-twenties, she became an international fashion and style icon. 

famous eau de nil suit work in Rear window

Edith Head’s famous eau de nil suit and matching hat for Grace Kelly in Rear Window (1954).

PHOTO credit (above): “Grace Kelly in Rear Window” by thefoxling is marked with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Grace Kelly in Rear Window” by thefoxling is marked with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

In a phenomenal film career that was barely 5 years old what happened next for Grace Kelly was unusual but not entirely surprising.  

Alfred Hitchcock, Grace Kelly, Jimmy Stewart (1)” by oneredsf1 is marked with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Grace Kelly 1929 – 1982” by oneredsf1 is marked with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Grace Kelly portrait from the film “Rear Window” photographed by Virgil Apger, 1954.

Never just a pretty face, Grace Kelly insisted in her studio contract that she be allowed regular breaks to be able to act in live theater.5 From childhood, Grace admired the art of the live stage and welcomed demanding theater and film roles that challenged and exhibited her acting range and abilities. This love of the theater was a big part of her motivation to seek the hardly glamorous but dramatically impressive role of Georgie Elgin in George Seaton’s The Country Girl (1954) for Paramount Pictures.

Grace Kelly studying the script during filming of George Seaton’s The Country Girl. The 1954 drama film received 7 Academy Award nominations and won two Oscars – including Grace Kelly as Best Actress.

With co-stars Bing Crosby and William Holden, the film featured Grace playing Georgie, the long-suffering wife of an alcoholic actor struggling to resume his career (played by Crosby).

At its release, the film was a hit and nominated for seven Academy Awards. On Wednesday, March 30, 1955, at the telecast of the 27th annual Academy Awards held at RKO Pantages Theatre,6 The Country Girl won two Oscars, including one for Grace Kelly for Best Actress. At just 25 years old Grace Kelly—of the ambitious and hugely competitive Kellys of Philadelphia—had reached the highest echelon of cinema arts holding her profession’s gold-plated statuette.

gk with oscar

Grace Kelly backstage after the 27th annual Academy Awards on March 25, 1955. During the evening Grace won the Oscar for Best Actress for her dressed-down and dramatic role in The Country Girl.

27th Annual Academy Awards Bette Davis presenter, Marlon Brando and Grace Kelly

At the 27th Annual Academy Awards, presenter Bette Davis is joined by Marlon Brando and Grace Kelly, each holding their golden trophies for Best Actor and Best Actress.  

In early 1954 Grace had flown to South America to make Green Fire (1954) for M-G-M with Stewart Granger. In May 1954 she was at the French Riviera to make her third film with Alfred Hitchcock: To Catch a Thief (1955) co-starring Cary Grant for Paramount Pictures.

HITCH &GK

Sitting in a director’s chair with her co-star Cary Grant’s name emblazoned on it, Academy-Award-winning Best Actress Grace Kelly is served a beverage by director Alfred Hitchcock on the set of To Catch A Thief.

Cary Grant’s reaction to the beach dress makes its stunning design even more iconic.

Grace Kelly in To Catch a Thief” by thefoxling is marked with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Grace Kelly” by twm1340 is marked with CC BY-SA 2.0.

Grace Kelly and Cary Grant

Hitchcock had found his blonde muse and aided mightily to reveal the star qualities in Grace Kelly.

La Victorine studios 1954 Hitch directs GK on To Catch a Thief grace kelly

When Grace was filming To Catch A Thief, her final of three films for Hitchcock, the cast and crew felt such great respect for the young film star that whenever she appeared on the set a hush fell over it.

Grace wears a pink dress for a walk in the south of France.

Grace liked the Riviera. In April 1955 she traveled there again for the 8th annual Cannes Film Festival. It was during this early spring 1955 Mediterranean trip that Grace Kelly was first introduced to Prince Rainier III of Monaco.

Grace Kelly on the set of To Catch A Thief.

grace kelly” by ___carmendy is marked with CC BY 2.0.

Grace Kelly in Ball Gown To Catch A Thief

Grace Kelly dressed for the ball in the penultimate scene of her penultimate film, To Catch A Thief.

FIXED May 5 1956 001

Twenty-six-year-old Grace Kelly and 31-year-old Prince Rainier III at their first meeting at the palace in Monaco, May 6, 1955. They would be engaged to be married by the end of the year. Photograph by Edward Quinn.

Grace Kelly stood five foot seven inches tall and weighed 118 pounds. Her dress size was two.7 She was born on November 12, 1929 into the Kelly family of Philadelphia. Grace Patricia Kelly was the third of four children and one of that Irish-German family’s three girls. Elder sister Peggy and younger sister Lizanne were athletic and shared their mother Margaret’s model looks. Margaret was the family disciplinarian who the Kelly children liked to call “the Prussian General.”8 

GK with MOm

Grace Kelly models a fashionable dress for her mother in the mid1950’s. Grace’s reflection is in the mirror.

As a child Grace was dreamy and shy while her siblings were outgoing and athletic. Yet Grace inherited a keen awareness of her body using her arms and legs to be dramatically expressive in an actress’s rather than athlete’s way.9 At 18 years old Grace’s beautiful rectangle-shaped face with soft pear-shape dimensions displayed thick blond hair, almond-shaped blue eyes, a small high-bridge nose and ruby lips evident in later glamour photographs. 

Grace Kelly in red by Howell Conant, 1955.

Grace Kelly by Howell Conant, 1955. Conant was Grace Kelly’s friend and favorite photographer.

Grace Kelly.

Grace Kelly MGM portrait

Each member of the Philadelphia Kelly family was an exuberant competitor in areas of American life such as athletics, business, politics, or high society.  

in addition to her remarkable beauty, one of Grace’s major strengths was her ability to focus on the goal she decided to pursue whether professionally or personally until that goal was achieved.

When Grace won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1955 it was a brick in the Kelly family wall of ambition for success.  

Before she was a teenager Grace performed in plays so that during her teenage years a desire to be a professional actress grew. Since Grace was situated within a protective and affluent family as well as educated in Philadelphia Catholic and other private schools she sought theater work in New York City instead of Hollywood. Even when she had achieved the pinnacle of film success Grace still considered New York Theater a worthwhile aspiration and Hollywood as a pitiless machine of cinematic production.10

Kellys 1945

Kelly siblings in Philadelphia. Grace and Peggy flank Jack with Lizanne on his shoulders, c. 1946.

GK 1951

Grace Kelly moved to Southern California to be in motion pictures. She appeared in her first film called Fourteen Hours for 20th Century-Fox in 1951 when she was 22 years old.

Grace Kelly 1929 – 1982” by oneredsf1 is marked with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Grace 1955

Four years after her arrival to Hollywood, Grace Kelly in 1955 – when this photograph was taken – was one of the most glamorous women in the world.

It was Aristotle Onassis who suggested to Prince Rainier that he marry a beautiful American movie star to bring the glitterati back to Monaco. Onassis’s list at the time did not include Grace Kelly.11

Invited to the 1955 Cannes Film Festival after she had won the Academy Award for Best Actress for The Country Girl one month before, Grace was curious enough about the prince to be introduced to him in Monaco on Friday, May 6, 1955.

What is memorable from the photographs of their meeting at the palace is that the Prince looks chic and handsome and Grace is at her most beautiful in a black silk floral print dress with her blond hair pulled back into a German-style bun.

That evening Grace returned to Cannes for the festival’s screening of The Country Girl helping to conclude a day that Grace herself called “pretty wild.”12 But Grace’s career in Hollywood wasn’t over—nor her life half begun. She was back in Paris before the festival’s winners were announced (she had won nothing there),13 and soon returned to Hollywood to make what turned out to be her final two Hollywood movies – The Swan and High Society.

Grace Kelly in High Society (1956).

Grace Kelly” by thefoxling is marked with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier were engaged in December 1955. One of her female co-stars observed that the gem of Grace’s engagement ring that she received from the prince was the size of a “skating rink.”

Grace Kelly wears her engagement ring from Prince Rainier on the set of High Society.

Grace Kelly make up test High Society 1956

Grace Kelly in a make-up test for the honeymoon scene in High Society.

The Swan Grace Kelly

Grace Kelly, The Swan.

Grace Kelly MGM publicity photo The Swan

Grace Kelly in a M-G-M publicity photograph for The Swan.

Grace Kelly 1929 – 1982” by oneredsf1 is marked with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Grace behind the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz for a scene in High Society.

Grace was at the height of her career when she exited Hollywood in 1956.

Leaving “Tinsel Town” for what turned out to be forever, the 26-year-old movie star sailed for Monaco. The Kellys paid a $2 million dowry and, in April 1956, Grace married her prince. She became a wife, mother, and royal princess of a sovereign city-state and microstate on the Mediterranean Sea – and one of the wealthiest places in the world.14 Grace, however, traveled frequentl to the United States, and though her acting carrer had precipitously ended, she remained Hollywood royalty as well. 

GRACE KELLY HOLLYWOOD FILMOGRAPHY

1951:

Fourteen Hours
Grace Kelly as Louise Anne Fuller
Directed by Henry Hathaway
Released March 6, 1951.
Twentieth-Century Fox

1952:

High Noon
Amy Fowler Kane
Directed by Fred Zinnemann
Released July 24, 1952
United Artists

1953:

Mogambo
Linda Nordley
Directed by John Ford
Released October 9, 1953
M-G-M

1954:

Dial M for Murder
Margot Mary Wendice
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Released May 18, 1954
Warner Bros.

Rear Window
Lisa Carol Fremont
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Released September 1, 1954
Paramount Pictures

The Bridges at Toko-Ri
Nancy Brubaker
Directed by Marc Robson
Released December 31, 1954
Paramount Pictures

The Country Girl
Georgie Elgin
Directed by George Seaton
Released December 15, 1954
Paramount Pictures

Green Fire
Catherine Knowland
Directed by Andrew Marton
Released December 29, 1954
M-G-M

1955:

To Catch a Thief
Frances Stevens
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Released August 3, 1955
Paramount Pictures

1956:

The Swan
Princess Alexandra
Directed by Charles Vidor
Released April 18, 1956
M-G-M

High Society
Tracy Lord
Directed by Charles Walters
Released July 17, 1956
M-G-M

TEXT NOTES:

  1. It was actually my brother Kevin who, when he was working in the Chicago Film Office, wrote to me this description of Grace Kelly and Rear Window as the greatest film ever.
  2. Quoted in Roberts, Paul G., Style Icons Vol 4 Sirens, Fashion Industry Broadcast, p. 74.
  3. Scott Eyman, Print The Legend: The Life and Times of John Ford, Simon & Schuster, 1999, p. 419-21; Kenda Bean and Anthony Uzarowski, Ava: A Life in Movies, Philadelphia: Running Press, 2017, p. 118
  4. Dherbier, Yann-Brice and Verlhac, Pierre-Henry, Grace Kelly A Life in Pictures, Pavilion, 2006, p. 11.
  5. Edith-Head-designed apparel for Rear Window – Haugland, H. Kristina, Grace Kelly: Icon of style to Royal bride (Philadelphia Museum of Art), Yale University Press, 2006, p. 956; so she could act in live theater – TBA
  6. Date and place of 1955 Oscars- see https://www.oscars.org/oscars/ceremonies/1955 – retrieved April 26, 2017.
  7. height and dress size- http://www.bodymeasurements.org/grace-kelly/ – retrieved April 28, 2017.
  8. Dherbier and Verlhac, p. 9.
  9. Conant, Howell, Grace: An intimate portrait of Princess Grace by her friend and favorite photographer, Random House, 1992, p.18.
  10. Preferred theater to film-TBA
  11. Leigh, Wendy, True Grace: The Life and Times of an American Princess, New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2007, p.100.
  12. ibid., p. 112.
  13. Dherbier and Verlhac, p. 12.
  14. The 1.25-mile waterfront stretch in Monaco that used to be the world’s most expensive street looks no different from the rest of the city — and it says a lot about Monaco’s wealth. Katie Warren, January 9, 2020. https://www.businessinsider.com/most-expensive-street-in-monaco-avenue-princesse-grace-2020-1

… Grace Kelly” by x-ray delta one is marked with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Jennifer Jones is Miss Dove in Twentieth Century-Fox’s GOOD MORNING, MISS DOVE!

FEATURE image: Jennifer Jones in Good Morning, Miss Dove! (1955).

good-morning-miss-dove-movie-poster-1955-1020210172

Movie poster for Henry Koster’s Good Morning, Miss Dove! Starring Jennifer Jones, it was released by 20th Century-Fox the day before Thanksgiving in 1955.

Jennifer Jones

Jennifer Jones in Good Morning, Miss Dove! (1955). The 36-year-old actress plays an elderly teacher taken ill at school who, in flashbacks reviewing her life, as a young woman had been about to marry the man she loved when her father died unexpectedly and was secretly heavily in debt. Miss Dove decides not to marry but to repay the debt by becoming the town’s teacher.

movie poster

The film stars Jennifer Jones, Robert Stack, Kipp Hamilton, Robert Douglas, Peggy Knudsen, Marshall Thompson, Chuck Connors, and Mary Wickes. The film opened to good reviews and was popular at the box office. A New York Times review observed: “Since it is unashamedly sentimental without being excessively maudlin about its heroine, ‘Good Morning, Miss Dove’ deserves credit for being honest and entertaining.”

By John P. Walsh

Good Morning, Miss Dove! is Frances Gray Patton’s contemporary tale of a middle-aged spinster elementary school geography teacher in Liberty Hill who, when suddenly taken ill, sees the entire small town rally to her side.

It is a mythical period piece from the mid-1950’s. It depicts an unchanging town whose students obey their beloved teacher. Though directed by Henry Koster in a stagey way, the film boasts progressive casting. One year after the milestone 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Topeka Board of Education establishing racial segregation in public schools as unconstitutional, Good Morning, Miss Dove! presents a newly-integrated public school classroom in Cinemascope and De Luxe color.

Film-going audiences in 1955 loved the film.

Awaiting a risky operation, Miss Dove (Jennifer Jones) thinks back on her life and those of her prized grown-up former students. They included Robert Stack (a surgeon), Chuck Connors (a policeman), and Jerry Paris (a playwright). All of these students overcame difficult childhoods and found worldly achievement with the help of Miss Dove.

Based on popular Book of the Month Club novel.

Patton’s novel had enjoyed success in 1954 as a Book of the Month Club and Reader’s Digest selection. Its release as a major motion picture by 20th Century-Fox continued the novel heroine’s popularity.

Release of the film during the Thanksgiving weekend 1955 was in the same year that Jennifer Jones starred in another Deluxe color film, the American drama-romance Love is a Many-Splendored Thing.

For the Academy-Award winning actress to play an elderly spinster (many early scenes feature the naturally dark-haired Miss Jones without her older character’s make-up), she moves beyond type. In the mid-1950’s as America settled into the Eisenhower years, Good Morning, Miss Dove! showed a lead film character -– the “terrible” Miss Dove played by Jennifer Jones — as an unflinching and beloved disciplinarian. Yet in the 1950’s the American public education system was undergoing copious and difficult change. In that way, the character of Miss Dove is further complicated by becoming a popular icon in the American culture by being mostly a nostalgic figure.

Good Morning Miss Dove!

A flashback scene from Good Morning, Miss Dove! Jennifer Jones as young Miss Dove with her father, Alonso Dove (Leslie Bradley). When he dies unexpectedly and in debt, Miss Dove resolves to pay it back and upends her own life’s plans to do so. Costumes by Mary Wills.

Jennifer Jones in make up for Good Morning Miss Dove

In 1955 Jennifer Jones was a 36-year-old beauty. Through the magic of Hollywood make-up (Ben Nye) and hair styling (Helen Turpin), she was transformed into the elderly Miss Dove for Good Morning, Miss Dove! In 1954 after Grace Kelly wore make-up for The Country Girl that hid her good looks and went against her youthful image (Kelly was 24 years old), she won the Academy Award for Best Actress for that year.

Good Morning Miss Dove

Young Miss Dove played by Jennifer Jones gives up marriage to the man she loves for a future as a spinster teacher so to pay back her late father’s debt. The story is based on a book by Frances Gray Patton that was itself based on her short stories. When 20th-Century Fox bought the rights for $52,000, it was the equivalent of about half a million dollars today.

Good Morning Miss Dove

Jennifer Jones as the elderly teacher in Good Morning, Miss Dove! set in the fictional Midwest town of Liberty Hill. Before filming began in July 1955, director Henry Koster wanted Olivia deHavilland for the role and have it set in England. Though set in contemporary America, critics saw Miss Dove as a character out of Charles Dickens.

The audience meets the elder Miss Dove at the movie’s start—make-up and hair-styling artists Ben Nye and Helen Turpin transformed the 35-year-old Jennifer Jones into the 55-year-old Miss Dove—and by flashbacks.

The film dramatizes her youth as she is about to marry. But she receives the unexpected news that her father has died suddenly and that he has debts. To pay them back, she steels herself to remain single and take a teaching post. Her chilly veneer is part of her honor to do the proper thing along with the sober accommodation to life’s necessary sacrifices.

While those who did not know Miss Dove mock her behind her back and say she couldn’t have had much of a life—never married, no family, no kids, never traveled anywhere—her army of students judge her differently.

Beyond any possibly wider cultural meaning, the film presents a unique person who by the logic of her experience or the experience of her logic enters into a series of social interactions that are amusing and honest. These include the film’s penultimate scene. Miss Dove is on her sick bed when she tells her pastor, Reverend Burnham (Biff Elliot): “Life, whatever others may think, has been for me…I have been happy. I have made many mistakes. Perhaps even sinned. I admit my human limitations but I do not in all honesty find the burden of my sins intolerable. Nor have I strayed like a sheep. I have never been AWOL. I have never spoken hypocrisy to my Maker and now is scarcely a propitious moment to begin.”

While these thoughts may be judged from different perspectives, they are expressive of a woman’s life completely dedicated to her profession and students at Cedar Grove Elementary School. The film’s denouement starting at around 1:39:00 is  powerful. Accompanied by Leigh Harline’s memorable soundtrack, it is a sentimental tribute to Miss Dove’s life which benefited through the years many different people because of nothing less than her good character. (1:47:16).

THE MOVIE:

Mary Wills: Oscar-winning costume designer.

The costume designer for Good Morning, Miss Dove! (1955) is Mary Wills (1914-1997). She worked mainly for Samuel Goldwyn productions and Twentieth Century-Fox, breaking into the movie business as a sketch artist for Gone With The Wind (1939). In her nearly 40-year career Mary Wills was nominated for an Oscar seven times and won the Academy Award in 1962 for her colorful designs for The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm

First woman admitted to Yale Art and Drama program. “The Fabulous Miss Wills.”

Born in Prescott, Arizona, Wills moved to Los Angeles after receiving her Master’s degree from the Yale Art and Drama School. She was the first woman admitted into that program.

Wills started designing costumes in 1944 at RKO with Belle of the Yukon and soon after designed costumes for Disney’s Song of the South (1946). She started working for Samuel Goldwyn in 1948 where she designed costumes for Enchantment. For the next six years at Goldwyn Studio the costume designer was referred to as “The Fabulous Miss Wills.”

She was regularly nominated for her costume design in the 1950’s when she designed the costumes for Good Morning, Miss Dove! including Hans Christian Anderson (1952), The Virgin Queen (1954), Teenage Rebel (1956), A Certain Smile (1958), The Diary of Anne Frank (1959), The Passover Plot (1976) and the film for which she won the Academy Award in 1962. Mary Wills also designed the Rogers and Hammerstein musical film Carousel in 1956.

Ice Follies. Camelot and Funny Girl.

Mary Wills demonstrated a special talent for designing historical costumes, especially after she moved to 20th-Century Fox in 1954 to make The Virgin Queen starring Bette Davis. Later she showed great aptitude for designing dance and folk costumes. A collection of her original sketches are online at the Los Angeles County Museum for live productions including the Shipstad & Johnson Ice Follies, now known as the Ice Follies. Mary Wills worked on two major films that she did not get film credit for — namely, Camelot (1967) and Funny Girl (1968). For Funny Girl, she designed the Ziegfeld show-girl brides costumes as well as the costumes for Omar Sharif.

Mary Wills at Samuel Goldwyn Studio

Academy-Award winning costume designer Mary Wills at the Samuel Goldwyn Studio (c. 1948). The Oscar-winning costume designer worked mainly for Samuel Goldwyn Productions and Twentieth Century-Fox.

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Miss Dove (Jennifer Jones) in a costume by Mary Wills. In the 1950’s Mary Wills was nominated for an Academy Award four times.

Good morning Miss Dove

Jincey Baker (Kipp Hamilton), Miss Dove (Jennifer Jones), and Dr. Tom Baker (Robert Stack). Promotion for the film included advertising that encouraged moviegoers to see it for its portrayal of the state of education in the country at the time. Costumes by Mary Wills.

Good Morning Miss Dove.

A 1955 drama that is both contemporary and nostalgic. Mary Wickes plays Miss Ellwood (second from left). Costumes by Mary Wills.

Good Morning Miss Dove!

Jennifer Jones as a small town spinster teacher who falls ill in the film Good Morning, Miss Dove! Her stern and upright demeanor masks her personal sacrifices and devotion to her students. Tha world is thrown into chaos when Miss Dove experiences an acute pain and grows numb in her leg. It is while she is in her hospital bed awaiting risky surgery that she relates her life in flashbacks.

Good Morning Miss Dove

In Good Morning, Miss Dove! Jennifer Jones is a beautiful young woman who rejects a marriage proposal to become the town’s grade school teacher to repay her late father’s debts. Costumes by Academy Award nominated costume designer Mary Wills.

Peggy Knudsen and Jennifer Jones

In the hospital Miss Dove is cared for by Nurse Billie Jean Green (Peggy Knudsen). Billie Jean is one of Miss Dove’s former student who left Liberty Hill and had a child out of wedlock. Back in her hometown, Billie Jean is infatuated with the local policeman, Bill Holloway (Chuck Connors). Bill is another of Miss Dove’s former students and one of her best pupils. Later, in the 1970’s, when actress Peggy Knudsen was suffering from a debilitating illness (she died in 1980 at 57 years old), she was in real life cared for by her close friend, Jennifer Jones.

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Miss Dove with former student and Liberty Hill policeman Bill Holloway (Chuck Connors). Miss Dove tells nurse Billie Jean Green how Bill first arrived to her classroom– a poor, unkempt boy being raised by his alcoholic grandmother. Over the years, Miss Dove gave Bill odd jobs and bought him a suit for his grammar school graduation. After Bill entered the Marines, he wrote to Miss Dove often, and when he returned to Liberty Hill, she was the first person he came to for career advice.

Good Morning Miss Dove

On the day of Miss Dove’s surgery, classes are dismissed and the townspeople of Liberty Hill wait outside the hospital for news of the operation’s outcome. The film provides a sentimental picture of mid-20th century America that is of Norman Rockwell proportions. Yet the film’s crisp dialogue and sharp character development by Jennifer Jones and the supporting cast engages the moviegoer. By the end of the film the outcome of Miss Dove’s surgery is as affecting to the audience as it is the fictional townspeople of Liberty Hill.

SOURCES:

https://www.academia.edu/1848534/_John_Dewey_vs._The_Terrible_Miss_Dove_Frances_Gray_Pattons_Postwar_Schoolmarm_and_the_Cultural_Work_of_Nostalgia

Green, Paul, The Life and Films of Jennifer Jones, McFarland & Co. Inc. Publishers, Jefferson, North Carolina and London, 2011.

http://www.nytimes.com/movies/movie/93588/Good-Morning-Miss-Dove/overview

http://www.popmatters.com/review/182178-good-morning-miss-dove/

http://www.themakeupgallery.info/age/1950s/dove.htm