Saturday, January 23, 2010

Jean Simmons - In Memoriam

One of those post-war beauties with the bright eyes and rose petal skin, with that voice.  I miss that voice that ingenues of the cultured variety used to have, that delicate touching of all the consonants like expert fingers tickling all the right piano keys.  I miss the lilt in the cadence, and the slower delivery as if she were thinking about what she was saying before she said it.  People rarely do that now, especially in the media.  They just gush words, any words, whether or not they are meaningful, just to fill up air space.

She wasn't the only one who spoke like that or looked like that.  There were a distinct, select graduating class of them back then in the late 1940s and early 1950s, whose mannerisms and speech perhaps might have been studied, but always appeared genuine.

I like to remember her most as Ophelia in "Hamlet", her screen debut in which she played one of the oldest, most classic of troubled females and brought her down to human size just be being -- what was it?  Eighteen years old herself at the time?  Contrasting this, I like to remember her in "Guys and Dolls", singing with the gusto of her own natural voice and swinging on a lampost, being drunkenly kittenish with an unusually reserved Marlon Brando.  She put on American girl bravado like she put on her Salvation Army-style costume, neither natural to her, but the playfulness, like the rest, seemed genuine.

Jean Simmons had many fans, and will continue to have many fans. 

11 comments:

K. said...

Simmons was the definitive Estella in David Lean's Great Expectations (1946). And while her cultured accent may have been out of place in Spartacus (although not as much as that of Tony "I taught da classix to da childun of my mastuh" Curtis), her magnificent back made for one sexy bathing scene. Jean Simmons was classy, elegant, beautiful, and talented; the movies will never stop needing more like her.

Amanda said...

RIP dear Jean

Jacqueline T Lynch said...

Thanks for stopping by, Amanda.

K, I agree with your comment that the movies will never stop needing more like her. And your funny Tony Curtis impersonation in "Spartacus" made me spit cranberry juice all over my computer screen.

Caftan Woman said...

Speaking of princesses (and we were), I have read that Jean Simmons was Wyler's original choice for "Roman Holiday", but Howard Hughes wouldn't release her from her contract.

Arielle Lee Bair said...

She was great and will continue to be great, even though she's no longer with us. The best are never forgotten. :)

Jacqueline T Lynch said...

Hi, Caftan Woman, thanks for the info on Jean Simmons and "Roman Holiday". Very interesting. How nice you made this dovetail into the Princess series. I'm always pleased when things seem to entwine in a Celtic knot.

You're right, Arielle, the best are never forgotten.

panavia999 said...

On all my old movie blogs I follow, no one seems to remember one of *my* favorite Jean Simmons movies: “Home Before Dark” with Dan O’Herlihy, Rhonda Fleming and Efrem Zimbalist Jr. Jean Simmons won the New York Film Critics award for best actress for this film. Simmons plays a woman recently released from the hospital after a nervous breakdown who returns home to the same situation that precipitated her breakdown. It’s not a happy film, but in the end she starts to pull herself together. Her scenes with Zimbalist are very touching.
It used to be on late night TV all the time in the 70’s, my mother,brother and I watched it everytime. I hope other people will remember this fine movie or seek it out.)

PS: LOL, Thanks for the reminder about Tony Curtis in Spartacus. This is OT, but fun trivia: It's a Hollywood movie tradition that Romans have a british accent to distinguish them from the rest. I remember reading that in Ben Hur all the british actors playing romans had blue eyes, they decided there were too many blue eyes for romans. Since Stephen Boyd/Marsala was the villain, they gave him brown contacts.

panavia999 said...

LOL. It's not Marsala, it's Messala who is the villain of Ben Hur. I bought a bottle of Marsala this weekend, I guess it stuck in my mind.

Jacqueline T Lynch said...

I can't remember if I've ever seen "Home Before Dark", but it sounds very familiar.

Funny thing about the British accents, I can remember watching a few episodes of the HBO series "Rome" and musing that all the British actors in the show sounded appropriate to their Roman roles because we are all so used to hearing British accents in those biblical epics back in the day. Except for Tony Curtis. (Although, I think the wonderful Edward G. Robinson's speech in "The Ten Commandments" is a hoot.)

A dark-eyed hoodlum from gangster films, or a blue-eyed Englishman. Take your pick, I guess.

online movie streaming said...

She was great and will continue to be great, even though she's no longer with us. The best are never forgotten. :)

Jacqueline T Lynch said...

So true. Thanks for stopping by.