Even though some actors have a very limited filmography, often what they do appear in is enough to cement their presence in the mind of popular culture. Grace Kelly got her start in Television, but her acting career on the big screen was limited, at best. And yet, even though she only appeared in 11 films from 1951 to 1956, she certainly made an impact. In fact, with a film acting career only spanning 5 years, she managed to be listed as #13 on the American Film Institute’s list of the 50 best actresses of the last 100 years. With only one Best Actress Oscar to her name (for The Country Girl (1954)), we often remember her not only for her presence on the silver screen, but as the Princess of Monaco. This is perhaps the biggest reason that her acting career was so limited: her marriage into royalty. While her personal life was interesting, to say the least, I would have liked to see her act just a bit more. This week’s films are some gems from Grace Kelly’s acting crown.
Length: 112 minutes / 1.86 hours
Alfred Hitchcock had a penchant for casting blonde women in his films, even to the point that the set of actresses that appeared in his films became known as the “Hitchcock Blondes”. Just like Cary Grant and James Stewart, Grace Kelly was a frequent collaborator of Hitchcock’s, perhaps due to her beauty and her blonde hair. Between her involvement on Dial M for Murder and To Catch a Thief (also with Cary Grant), Grace Kelly was in Rear Window with James Stewart. With such a limited film career, over one quarter of her films were directed by Alfred Hitchcock, which is an impressive statistic to say the least. If anything, being cast in Hitchcock’s films shows how versatile an actress she was, since most of the roles in these movies are very demanding of their actors.
Much like her real-life persona of being part of the highest of high society (which is somewhat ironic, considering her last film was titled High Society), Grace Kelly portrays Lisa Fremont, who is free to come and go from her boyfriend’s apartment while he is recovering from an accident that he suffered while on the job as a photographer. The boyfriend, L.B. “Jeff” Jefferies (James Stewart), has taken to watching his neighbors from the rear window of his apartment, in order to pass the time. Lisa often indulges him and helps speculate what is happening in these little, encapsulated worlds across the courtyard. Unfortunately, Jeff is suspicious of one of his neighbors and is unable to investigate. As a result, Lisa heads into the neighbor’s apartment, not fully understanding the danger she has put herself in, as Jeff helplessly watches from the window.
Length: 85 minutes / 1.42 hours
I am certain that Grace Kelly was the type of woman that all other women wanted to be and all men wanted to be with. After all, her beauty was definitely one of her greatest assets. In fact, just look at Rear Window: she was the girlfriend. Now, in High Noon, she plays the wife. However, life in the old west wasn’t very comfortable and often people had to face insurmountable odds against them, not only from nature itself, but from others who also needed to survive. A wife in the old west must be as strong as her husband, if not stronger. There is no high society out in the dusty little towns that have to deal with lawless men on a regular basis. Add on top of this being the wife of the Marshal, who has made enemies for many years as a basic part of his job. Could someone’s revenge put her in harm’s way as well?
What better way to end your career as a Marshal than with a wedding? Marshal Will Kane (Gary Cooper) has done just that. On the same day he retired from his post, he married a woman by the name of Amy (Grace Kelly), thus making her Amy Kane. Unfortunately, some bad men that Will had put away are now on the loose and are looking for revenge. Will knows that the fact he’s no longer Marshal won’t make any difference, so he asks the townspeople to help him fend off his enemies. You would figure that these people, who have been protected by Will for many years, would be jumping at the opportunity to help, right? Well, they are all too eager to jump, but “jumping ship” doesn’t help Will any. Now he has to face these men all alone with only a six shooter and his ingrained sense of justice keeping him going.
2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 masterpieces from a minimal Grace Kelly filmography
Bacon #: 2 (Mogambo / Donald Sinden -> Balto / Kevin Bacon)