Tag Archives: Movie Studio – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Glamour Portrait of Hedy Lamarr, The World’s Most Beautiful Woman, for M-G-M’s 1940 adventure film, Boom Town, by László Willinger.

FEATURE image: Hedy Lamarr, M-G-M, 1940. Photograph by László Willinger (1909-1989).

PHOTO credit: Fair use.*

Hedy Lamarr, M-G-M, 1940. Photograph by László Willinger (1909-1989).

Hedy Lamarr (1914-2000) posed for the glamour portrait (above) in 1940. The legendary Austrian beauty in Hollywood was 27 years old. Since her first American film in 1938, Algiers from United Artists, Lamarr was believed to be the most beautiful women in the movies–if not the world.

The publicity photograph of Lamaar was for the 1940 American adventure film Boom Town from Metro-Godwyn-Mayer. It co-stars Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy and Claudette Colbert. Boom Town was the highest grossing film of 1940.

Hedy Lamarr, 1939, László Willinger.

PHOTO credit: Fair use.*

The beautiful color portrait of its co-star was taken by László Willinger (1909-1989). Willinger was a German-born emigré who made many glamour photographs of celebrities starting in the later 1930’s.

Sigrid Gurie, Charles Boyer and Hedy Lamarr, publicity still for Algiers. American 1938 film in Public Domain.

In Boom Town, Austrian-born Lamarr plays Karen VanMeer, a sophisticated and elegant corporate spy. She is recruited by Clark Gable who plays “Big John” McMasters, an oil speculator.

M-G-M splurged on its star power to turn a routine oil-well story into a four-time Academy Award-nominated money gusher called Boom Town. The field was crowded with new films in 1940 just from M-G-M studio, including 18 pictures in Technicolor. Escapism was still the most rewarding M-G-M product.

Producer Sam Zimbalist brought big names to the screen in Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, Claudette Colbert, and Hedy Lamarr backed up by an “A” list screenplay and Jack Conway’s forceful direction. The movie was the first Gable made under a new seven-year contract with MGM.

Hedy Lamarr, 1938. Photograph by Clarence Sinclair Bull (1896-1979).

PHOTO credit: “Hedy Lamarr” by floorvan is marked with CC BY-SA 2.0.

Lana Turner, Hedy Lamaar, Judy Garland. Publicity photo for M-G-M’s Zeigfield Girls, 1941. Public Domain**
Hedy Lamarr, publicity photo for “The Heavenly Body,” M-G-M, 1944. Public Domain**

(colorized) PHOTO credit: “Hedy Lamarr 1914 – 2000” by oneredsf1 is marked with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

*The photograph copyright may be believed to belong to the distributor of the film, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the publisher of the film or the graphic artist. The copy is of sufficient resolution for commentary and identification but lower resolution than the original photograph. Copies made from it will be of inferior quality, unsuitable as counterfeit artwork, pirate versions or for uses that would compete with the commercial purpose of the original artwork. The image is used for identification in the context of critical commentary of the work, product or service for which it serves as poster art. It makes a significant contribution to the user’s understanding of the article, which could not practically be conveyed by words alone. As this is a publicity photo (star headshot) taken to promote an actress, these have traditionally not been copyrighted. Since they are disseminated to the public, they are generally considered public domain, and therefore clearance by the studio that produced them is not necessary. (See- Eve Light Honthaner, film production expert, in The Complete Film Production Handbook, Focal Press, 2001 p. 211. Gerald Mast, Further, film industry author, in Film Study and the Copyright Law (1989) p. 87, writes: “According to the old copyright act, such production stills were not automatically copyrighted as part of the film and required separate copyrights as photographic stills. The new copyright act similarly excludes the production still from automatic copyright but gives the film’s copyright owner a five-year period in which to copyright the stills. Most studios have never bothered to copyright these stills because they were happy to see them pass into the public domain, to be used by as many people in as many publications as possible.” Kristin Thompson, committee chairperson of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies writes in the conclusion of a 1993 conference with cinema scholars and editors, that they “expressed the opinion that it is not necessary for authors to request permission to reproduce frame enlargements … [and] some trade presses that publish educational and scholarly film books also take the position that permission is not necessary for reproducing frame enlargements and publicity photographs.”(“Fair Usage Publication of Film Stills,” Kristin Thompson, Society for Cinema and Media Studies.)

**This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published in the United States between 1927 and 1977, inclusive, without a copyright notice. Note that it may still be copyrighted in other countries.

A Critical Look at Madame Bovary (1949) by Vincente Minnelli: the Waltz Scene with Jennifer Jones and Louis Jourdan.

FEATURE image: Madame Bovary (Jennifer Jones) and Rodolphe Boulanger (Louis Jourdan) waltz at the ball in a still from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s 1949 film Madame Bovary directed by Vincente Minnelli. Fair Use.

In the 1949 film Madame Bovary directed by Vincente Minnelli, a beautiful and charming Madame Bovary (Jennifer Jones) meets wealthy Rodolphe Boulanger (Louis Jourdan) at a ball where he literally sweeps her off her feet. Selfishly aggravated by her husband Charles Bovary (Van Heflin) for not fitting into high society, Madame Bovary begins a love affair with Rodolphe. Though the pair scheme to elope to Italy, Rodolphe does not love Madame Bovary. 

The Waltz Scene was Filmed to the Music 

One of the film’s most carefully wrought and delightful scenes is this ballroom sequence. It was one of the last segments to be shot. The film footage was tailored to Miklós Rózsa’s music. Minnelli explained to the composer in advance the camera movements so he could write the music in an arrangement for two pianos. The scene was then filmed to match it. Their artistic collaboration produced one of cinema’s most original scenes uniting robust music with weaving and gliding images on film.

Madame Bovary (Jennifer Jones) and Rodolphe Boulanger (Louis Jourdan) waltz at the ball. It is one of the film’s most delightful scenes and one of the last to be shot. Director Vincente Minnelli made certain its choreography carefully matched the music of Miklós Rózsa. Madame Bovary was nominated for an Oscar for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Black-and-White.

“Break the Windows” dramatizes a heroine’s transition into madness

As Rodolphe swirls her, Emma Bovary’s head spins until she becomes dizzy. The viewer sees her disorientation as the camera takes her viewpoint. She keeps dancing but asks for fresh air. Her request leads to an extraordinary and incredible reaction by the stewards. They start to smash the ballroom’s windows with chairs to help her cool down. This fantastically destructive action of broken glass aligns with the destruction of Emma’s romantic illusions throughout the film. 

In reaction to Madame Bovary becoming dizzy while waltzing with a new lover, the stewards smash the ballroom windows to give her air. The extraordinary action ultimately becomes symbolic of the destruction of Madame Bovary’s romantic illusions with handsome, wealthy Rodolphe and her own descent into madness.

Night of Repressed Passion

Along with her husband’s boorish behavior at the ball and everywhere else, madame Bovary’s romantic disappointment leaves her feeling publicly humiliated. Instead of love and excitement, Madame Bovary runs out of the ball in shame. Though she yearns for happiness and excitement, her pursuit of selfish pleasures ends in scandal and ruin.

Jennifer Jones as Madame Bovary offers a performance that is elegant and beautiful. It is equally insightful to the selfish and nervous personality of Flaubert’s fictional character.

A film poster for Vincente Minnelli’s Madame Bovary. Several different versions of the film poster were produced for the marketing of the 1949 film.

This publicity photo for Madame Bovary showed the love triangle of Madame Bovary (Jennifer Jones), her handsome lover Rodolphe Boulanger (Louis Jourdan), and her hapless and cuckolded husband Charles Bovary, a medical doctor (Van Heflin).

Thirty-year-old Jennifer Jones plays Gustave Flaubert’s doomed title character, Madame Bovary, from his 1856 serial novel.

Vincente Minnelli’s film of the same name offered two costume and wardrobe managers: Walter Plunkett for women and Valles for men.

Walter Plunkett (1902-1982) was a prolific costume designer who worked on more than 150 projects in his Hollywood career, including Gone With The Wind. In 1951, Plunkett shared an Oscar with Orry-Kelly and Irene Sharaff for An American in Paris.

Valles (1886-1970) specialized in men’s costumes at M-G-M. Valles received two Academy Award nominations, including Spartacus in 1960.

Van Heflin is Charles Bovary, whom Madame Bovary (Jennifer Jones) had loved and hoped to build a respectable life, but in whom she grew disillusioned.

A unique example of the Valles’ costume design for Louis Jourdan and Walter Plunkett’s costume design for Jennifer Jones for the 1949 film Madame Bovary. The next year, in 1950, both Valles and Walter Plunkett were nominated for the Academy Award for Compton Bennett’s That Forsyte Woman/Saga.

Madame Bovary danced wildly with Rodolphe at the ball and loves him. The illicit couple plan to elope to Italy. But Rodolphe leaves for Italy without her and shatters Madame Bovary’s spirit and dreams.

Costumes were by award-winning Valles and Walter Plunkett, both award-winning Hollywood costume designers.

Madame Bovary (Jennifer Jones) is indulged by an unscrupulous shop-keeper as she lives beyond her means in the pursuit of happiness. She takes on a heavy debt that is impossible to pay back.

The film plot is told from the point of view of the author, Gustave Flaubert (James Mason). a legal proceedings takes place where Flaubert is accused of corrupting morals by writing Madame Bovary. It is an historical fact that, in 1858, Flaubert and his publisher had faced government charges of immorality for Madame Bovary. But the outcome of the trial was that Flaubert was completely acquitted.

Charles, who never stopped loving his wife, begs her to wait for a doctor to arrive. Madame Bovary sighs, “Oh, Charles, why are you always trying to save me?”

From the waltz scene through to her death scene Jennifer Jones as Madame Bovary offers a performance that is elegant and beautiful. It also provides insight into the contradictions offered by a selfish and nervous personality.

In the end Madame Bovary finds that her own death is more attractive to her than living with her shattered dreams.

A 1949 film poster for Madame Bovary that includes a publicity head shot of James Mason as Gustave Flaubert, the novel’s French author.

Minnelli’s film is told in flashback through the character of Flaubert who is on trial for charges of immorality for writing the novel. After Flaubert’s work was serialized in the Revue de Paris in 1856, the government charged and tried the author and his publisher for immorality. Both were acquitted in 1859. After Madame Bovary appeared in book form in France, it became an instant classic.

Vincente Minnelli directs Jennifer Jones and Louis Jourdan in a scene from Madame Bovary.

Reviews from film critics had been mixed and Madame Bovary lost money at the box office. Whether it is the fault of the film-makers or the unhappy story becomes a debatable point.

Marlene Dietrich, Elizabeth Taylor, Lana Turner: History of Hollywood Glamour Portraits of the 1930’s and 1940’s.

FEATURE image: Marlene Dietrich. Paramount, 1947. Photograph by A.L. “Whitey” Schafer. The actress was appearing in Golden Earrings, a 1947 romantic spy film made by Paramount Pictures and starring Ray Milland and Marlene Dietrich.*

MARLENE DIETRICH

This Hollywood glamour portrait of forty-six-year-old Marlene Dietrich (1901, Berlin – 1992, Paris) wearing a green turtleneck sweater was taken when the movie actress was starring in Golden Earrings, a romantic spy film made by Paramount Pictures. It was her comeback film following World War II.

1940’s blondes

Like other leading ladies in the 1940’s, the Hollywood glamour machine transformed Dietrich into a golden-haloed blond which accentuated her magnificent cheekbones and sultry eyes under penciled-arc eyebrows and painted nails that A.L. “Whitey” Schafer’s color portrait makes evident.

It was also in 1947—the same year that the photograph was made— that Dietrich received the Medal of Freedom. Dietrich called it her life’s proudest achievement.

While Golden Earrings was a decent film, its main purpose was to provide the actress with a job. It led into her next project—the 1948 American romantic comedy A Foreign Affair directed by Billy Wilder. That film made Dietrich again a top star.

Following Dietrich’s meteoric rise at Paramount Pictures starting in 1930 her acting parts later stagnated as film directors —including Josef von Sternberg and others—seemed to use her more as a piece of expensive cinematic scenery than as a serious dramatic actress.

The film’s song, “Golden Earrings”, with a tune by Victor Young and lyrics by Ray Evans and Jay was sung in the movie by Murvyn Vye. It was a hit recording in 1947-48 by Peggy Lee. See- https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1633213/m1/#track/4

“Whitey” Schafer wrote an important book on glamour photography

Photographer A. L. “Whitey” Schafer (1902-1951) was a still photographer who started shooting stills in 1923 and continued in that line of work at Columbia Pictures when he moved there in 1932. Personally outgoing, Schafer was appointed head of the stills photography department at Columbia three years later. In the 1940’s Shafer wrote copiously on his craft and advocated for techniques in glamour photography that are seen in this Dietrich color portrait.

In 1941 Schafer published Portraiture Simplified, a book in which he argues that “portraiture’s purpose is the realization of character realistically.” Among his technical observations Schafer wrote elsewhere that “composing a portrait is comparable to writing a symphony. There must be a center of interest, and in all portraits this naturally must be the head, or your purpose is defeated. Therefore, the highest light should be on the head.”

In 1941 Schafer replaced Eugene Richee (1896-1972) as department head of still photography at Paramount Studios. Schafer remained in that position where he photographed the stars until he died at 49 years old in an accident in 1951.

From Paramount Pictures, A Foreign Affair is a 1948 American romantic comedy-drama film directed by Billy Wilder. The film made Marlene Dietrich once again a top star in the post-war years.

ELIZABETH TAYLOR.

Though still a teenager, Elizabeth Taylor (1932-2011) in 1949 when the publicity still photograph was made, was celebrated as the new generation’s great beauty.  In 1942, at 10 years old, Elizabeth made her film debut and her life and beauty blossomed over the decade in front of the cameras. The photograph captures Taylor after she made a little over a dozen films. In 1950 she co-starred in M-G-M’s comedy film, Father of the Bride. Directed by  Vincente Minnelli, Taylor played Kay, the daughter of Stanley T. Banks (Spencer Tracy) who is trying to cope with the preparations for her wedding day.

Elizabeth TAYLOR 1949
Elizabeth Taylor. M-G-M, 1949. Photograph by Hymie Fink.

Who is Hymie Fink?

Who exactly was her photographer, Hymie Fink? His identity remains a mystery. Was Hymie Fink a studio photographer? Freelancer? Pseudonym for an unknown talent or combination of unknown talents? His name appears among the stars starting in the late 1930’s until his death was announced in the mid-1950’s by Hedda Hopper. The gossip columnist ended her newspaper column for September 28, 1956 with the epitaph: “Hymie Fink, one of the sweetest men in Hollywood, died of a heart attack on Jane Wyman’s TV set. Hymie photographed every star and every major event in (Hollywood) for twenty-five years.”

Elizabeth Taylor co-starred in Father of the Bride, M-G-M’s 1950 comedy film directed by Vincente Minnelli. Father of the Bride was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Picture, and Best Writing, Screenplay.

LANA TURNER.

Before she became in the 1940’s the well-known Hollywood platinum sensuous blond of movie legend and fame, Lana Turner (1921-1995) was just a pretty redhead from Idaho named Julia Jean Turner.

Lana Turner. 1939.
Lana Turner. 1939, photograph by László Willinger.*

By the time this unretouched color portrait was made, 18-year-old Lana Turner had been discovered three years earlier in a manner that has made it into the annals of show-biz mythology. The immediate result of her discovery in an iconic malt shop near Hollywood High School where she was a student, was a movie contract with producer-director Mervyn LeRoy (1900-1987).

“America’s Sweater Sweetheart”

The title of Lana Turner’s first film in 1937 for Warner Brothers was They Won’t Forget. The title proved prophetic for Lana Turner’s Hollywood career. By 1938 Lana Turner was a sex symbol who went on to make over 50 glamorous films, most of them at M-G-M.

Lana Turner was only 16 years old when she played her five-minute debut part that has her at one point strut across the screen in a tight-fitting sweater and cocked beret for about 20 seconds.

Lana’s image created such a stir among movie-going audiences that gossip columnist Walter Winchell coined her “America’s Sweater Sweetheart” because of her now-classic screen appearance.

Over the next 20 years, a bevy of Hollywood actresses would wear tight sweaters over specialty bras that emphasized the bust line in the hope of sparking a Lana Turner movie success story for themselves.

New Jean Harlow?

Lana was originally being groomed to be the new Harlow. She followed the sex-bomb script in full force in 1941 when the studio dyed her hair whitish blonde for Ziegfeld Girl. Lana co-starred with Judy Garland and Hedy Lamarr and stole the show. 

László Willinger 

Hungarian-born photographer László Willinger (1909–1989) started his professional career in Vienna, Austria. He left Europe for America in 1937 where he joined M-G-M that same year. Soon after, he made this lush shot of 18-year-old Lana Turner in a silky green dress seated on a red divan (or chair) with her head turned and looking to one side with slightly bloodshot eyes.

Willinger’s color portrait of red-headed Lana Turner emphasizes the sensuality of her personality manifested in her full red sensuous lips and painted nails. In 1944, László Willinger left MGM and established his own photography studio in Hollywood. For the next 40 years he successfully practiced his craft.

About her own reputedly rowdy personal life in those M-G-M years, Lana Turner later remarked: “My plan was to have one husband and seven children, but it turned out the other way…” 

SOURCES:

DIETRICH – “Miss Dietrich to Receive Medal,” The New York Times, November 18, 1947;
https://ladailymirror.com/2013/11/04/mary-mallory-hollywood-heights-mdash-a-l-whitey-schafer-simplifies-portraits/;
http://vintagemoviestarphotos.blogspot.com/2014/11/a-l-whitey-schafer.html;
They Had Faces Then. Annabella to Zorina: The Superstars, Stars and Starlets of the 1930’s, John D. Springer and Jack D. Hamilton, Citadel Press, Secaucus, New Jersey, 1974.
Hollywood Color Portraits, John Kobal, William Morrow and Company. Inc., New York, 1981.
https://www.aenigma-images.com/2017/04/a-l-whitey-schafer/
PHOTO CREDIT – *The photograph copyright may be believed to belong to the distributor of the film, Paramount, the publisher of the film or the graphic artist. The copy is of sufficient resolution for commentary and identification but lower resolution than the original photograph. Copies made from it will be of inferior quality, unsuitable as counterfeit artwork, pirate versions or for uses that would compete with the commercial purpose of the original artwork. The image is used for identification in the context of critical commentary of the work, product or service for which it serves as poster art. It makes a significant contribution to the user’s understanding of the article, which could not practically be conveyed by words alone. As this is a publicity photo (star headshot) taken to promote an actress, these have traditionally not been copyrighted. Since they are disseminated to the public, they are generally considered public domain, and therefore clearance by the studio that produced them is not necessary. (See- Eve Light Honthaner, film production expert, in The Complete Film Production Handbook, Focal Press, 2001 p. 211. Gerald Mast, Further, film industry author, in Film Study and the Copyright Law (1989) p. 87, writes: “According to the old copyright act, such production stills were not automatically copyrighted as part of the film and required separate copyrights as photographic stills. The new copyright act similarly excludes the production still from automatic copyright but gives the film’s copyright owner a five-year period in which to copyright the stills. Most studios have never bothered to copyright these stills because they were happy to see them pass into the public domain, to be used by as many people in as many publications as possible.” Kristin Thompson, committee chairperson of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies writes in the conclusion of a 1993 conference with cinema scholars and editors, that they “expressed the opinion that it is not necessary for authors to request permission to reproduce frame enlargements … [and] some trade presses that publish educational and scholarly film books also take the position that permission is not necessary for reproducing frame enlargements and publicity photographs.”(“Fair Usage Publication of Film Stills,” Kristin Thompson, Society for Cinema and Media Studies.)

TAYLOR -http://tatteredandlostephemera.blogspot.com/2009/06/who-is-hymie-fink.html;
http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1956/09/29/page/22/article/diana-dors-isnt-homesick-shes-set-for-film-in-britain;
Hollywood Color Portraits, John Kobal, William Morrow and Company. Inc., New York, 1981.

TURNER – Hollywood Color Portraits, John Kobal, William Morrow and Company. Inc., New York, 1981.
Lana Turner interview with Phil Donahue, 1982 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhu6_V7pNL0
“Hollywood Photographer Dies,” The Hour, Associated Press, August 9, 1989 – https://news.google.com/newspapers nid=1916&dat=19890814&id=azIiAAAAIBAJ&sjid=uXQFAAAAIBAJ&pg=1804,2177679
PHOTO CREDIT: *The photograph copyright may be believed to belong to the distributor of the film, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the publisher of the film or the graphic artist. The copy is of sufficient resolution for commentary and identification but lower resolution than the original photograph. Copies made from it will be of inferior quality, unsuitable as counterfeit artwork, pirate versions or for uses that would compete with the commercial purpose of the original artwork. The image is used for identification in the context of critical commentary of the work, product or service for which it serves as poster art. It makes a significant contribution to the user’s understanding of the article, which could not practically be conveyed by words alone. As this is a publicity photo (star headshot) taken to promote an actress, these have traditionally not been copyrighted. Since they are disseminated to the public, they are generally considered public domain, and therefore clearance by the studio that produced them is not necessary. (See- Eve Light Honthaner, film production expert, in The Complete Film Production Handbook, Focal Press, 2001 p. 211. Gerald Mast, Further, film industry author, in Film Study and the Copyright Law (1989) p. 87, writes: “According to the old copyright act, such production stills were not automatically copyrighted as part of the film and required separate copyrights as photographic stills. The new copyright act similarly excludes the production still from automatic copyright but gives the film’s copyright owner a five-year period in which to copyright the stills. Most studios have never bothered to copyright these stills because they were happy to see them pass into the public domain, to be used by as many people in as many publications as possible.” Kristin Thompson, committee chairperson of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies writes in the conclusion of a 1993 conference with cinema scholars and editors, that they “expressed the opinion that it is not necessary for authors to request permission to reproduce frame enlargements … [and] some trade presses that publish educational and scholarly film books also take the position that permission is not necessary for reproducing frame enlargements and publicity photographs.”(“Fair Usage Publication of Film Stills,” Kristin Thompson, Society for Cinema and Media Studies.)

Hollywood Princess: Grace Kelly’s Modeling and Acting 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 small European country on the Mediterranean Sea – and yet remained Hollywood royalty.

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.

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