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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Happy Birthday, My Favorite British Dames | Deborah, Greer & Julie

I'd first like to apologize for having disappeared into thin air for nearly three weeks! In that time, I missed a blogathon I'd promise to write an entry for, several SMRs, and also consequently reached 100 followers! (As of now, it's 101 - it could be apt to change if I lose one or two but anyways, this is my first time reaching this milestone!) I'm sorry I haven't been around as of much - it's just one of those terrible times when real life gets in the way of blogging, you know? I'll have a little note about the SMRs at the end of this blog, but most importantly I want to give a big THANK YOU ♥ to all 101 of you that follow me. It really does mean a lot to me, and hopefully when I have a little more time on my hands I can come up with a more creative way to celebrate making it past 100!


As it so happens, three of my favorite actresses have birthdays three days in a row! How wonderful is that? (Albiet exhausting, most definitely.) I felt that bombarding you with three birthday posts in a row would be a bit too much (especially seeing how that would come after my being M.I.A. for so long), so I'm combining it all into one post. (I chose this date because's it's the middle one.) 

The three actresses are: Greer Garson (September 29th), Deborah Kerr (September 30th) and Julie Andrews (October 1st). Interestingly enough, all three British dames are actresses that I finally come around to truly appreciating within the last year. Needless to say, I now adore them to bits and find them all pretty much perfect.

Greer Garson
(SEPTEMBER 29, 1904 - APRIL 6, 1996)

I think the mirror should be tilted slightly upward when it`s reflecting life -- toward the cheerful, the tender, the compassionate, the brave, the funny, the encouraging, all those things -- and not tilted down to the gutter part of the time, into the troubled vistas of conflict."
Greer Garson, my beautiful bonny daisy. I fell in love with her nearly a year ago, after watching Adventure (1945). To say that Adventure is a perfect movie would be an overstatement, but I will always love it because it introduced me to Greer. Instantly, I loved her: her voice, her smile, her refined acting. I wouldn't be lying if I say I have very nearly seen everything Greer was in, and I worked my way through most of her films within a couple of months. I couldn't get enough of her. Despite having won an Oscar and having been nominated countless more times, Greer is an actress that isn't as well remembered as she should be today. She brought real vitality to her performances, which she combined with sweetness and warmth and a particular sensitivity. It's impossible not to sympathize with a Greer Garson character. Gregory Peck once described her as "all woman", and she was: radiant, funny, and brave. Greer Garson should be every lady's aspiration and every girl's heroine.

After reading her biography, I came to the conclusion that Greer Garson might also very well be one of the most likable people of all time. It seems that her real life disposition wasn't a far cry from the image she projected on screen. My favorite personality trait of hers was how she was famous (or maybe infamous) for talking nonstop! The speech she gave when accepting her Oscar for Mrs. Miniver (1942) is the longest in the history of the Academy Awards, a whole five minutes long where she has been said to have thanked everyone from the doctor who brought her into the world to the film's production crew. (Needless to say, the following year the Academy instilled a forty second limit on speeches which is even more greatly enforced nowadays because the event is televised).

Greer was the biggest box office draw of the World War II years. From the start of the era, she won the hearts of moviegoers with her most famous role as the endearing, resilient Mrs. Minivier, who soon enough became a model for combating the war to American & British women alike. She was just what both countries needed at the time: a little hint of sunshine and spirit that was a reminder of what we were fighting for. Happy birthday, my bonny daisy.

Deborah Kerr
(SEPTEMBER 30, 1921 - OCTOBER 16, 2007)
I'd like to be remembered as a good actress, but above all, as a good human being."
Deborah Kerr, is, to me, the most versatile actress in films, then or today. I don't think there was a role that Deborah couldn't tackle and make her own, or a character that she failed to lend her own touch of ladylike gentility to. (Glenn Close was correct when she said that Deborah played "nice ladies and not-so-nice ladies, but always ladies.") She rolled around in the sandy surf with Burt Lancaster in what is remembered as one of the sultriest kisses in movie history in From Here to Eternity (1953). She was center stage in one of Hollywood's most beloved musicals in The King and I (1956). She also played a nun that Robert Mitchum couldn't help be immorally attracted to in Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957), a haunted governess in the creepy The Innocents (1961), and the newspaperwoman Sheilah Graham in Beloved Infidel (1959). She gave into her feelings for a younger man in Tea and Sympathy (1956), became illegitimately pregnant with William Holden's child in The Proud and the Profane (1956), and even briefly appeared topless in The Gypsy Moths (1969).

Can you imagine playing roles like those in the 1950s while still maintaining a ladylike reputation and public respect? It's needless to say that Deborah could do it all, and I don't think there was any role she wasn't afraid of. The biggest atrocity in movie history is that she never won an Oscar, because of any actress truly deserved one, it was her. So many of her movies and so many of her performances are among my favorites. She's always a joy to watch, and absolutely gorgeous. That red hair and that perfect dimpled nose. There's a story that goes that a woman once approached Deborah inquiring about the doctor who had done her nose for her. In her polite manner, Deborah informed the woman that her nose was, thank you very much, quite real.

"She is warmly human and sympathetic and possessed of a humor that ranged from the subtle to the downright wicked," said her good friend Robert Mitchum, who considered Deborah his alltime favorite actress and 'the only leading lady he had a strictly platonic relationship with.' One of my favorite stories about Deborah is in good attest to that quote. It was during the filming of Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison and Deborah was in a canoe rowing a boat. "Faster, row faster!" the film's director, John Huston was constantly shouting. Finally, the intensity of Deborah's rowing resulted in the oars splitting into half in her hands, and in her soaked nun's habit she yelled, "Is that f--king fast enough?" Mitchum laughed so hard he nearly drowned.

 Julie Andrews
(OCTOBER 1 1935 - )
 Perseverance is failing nineteen times and succeeding the twentieth." 
The only thing, in my opinion, that Julie Andrews hasn't been yet is Queen of England (and if you ask me, she should - after all, she's already a Dame!). Jools is Maria Van Trapp, Mary Poppins, Cinderella, Eliza Doolittle, and the Queen of Genovia. It could probably be statistically proven that most people's childhoods are spent much of the time with Julie Andrews.

Jools is quite honestly the sweetheart to end all sweethearts - "I'm so sweet sometimes even I can't stand it!" - but what I love about her is the less wholesome side of her. Let's it face it, no matter what she does Julie will never be able to shed her General Foods image, because to us she will always most prominently be Maria twirling on the hill or Mary Poppins powdering her face with chimney ashes. 'Wholesome' will forever be the word associated with her, used most often to describe her, and the word she hates most (she's been quoted as saying so).

But there is definitely a side to her that's a little less sweet and a bit more, I guess you could put it, raunchy and that's one of the main reasons I love her. I didn't discover that not-so-lily-white side to her until I became a true fan of her within the last few months, and once I learned about this I couldn't get over how fabulous she is. It's that part of Jools that swears like a sailor, appeared topless in S.O.B. (1981), and as a cross dresser - "a woman, pretending to be man, pretending to be a woman?" - in Victor/Victoria (1982).

(Please, if you will, pardon the swearing that appears here :D) Once, when she appeared on Jay Leno's show, he told her that her best friend, Carol Burnett, had once told him that she could "outcuss anybody." Julie's reactions to that were of shock. She dropped her jaw and turned to the audience, "Me? Me?" "I couldn't believe it!" Leno told her. Julie, shaking her head said, "That bitch!" Best are some of the bloopers from The Julie Andrews Hour. Trying to close on episode, she encouraged viewers to tune in next week, but after flubbing up fell down the wrong path. Tilting her head to the side, she said, "Tune in, you silly bastards, we're not getting good enough ratings." In another clip, one of her co-stars swears loudly after messing up a scene, and Julie says with fake innocence, "I never heard that word before." Still, she hasn't shed her image completely - she once said on a talk show, "I thought it would be fun if I really, really wanted to change my image, I would take the centerfold of Playboy, but do it with the hat, the umbrella, and the carpet bag of Mary Poppins - and period!"

And all the while, she's still the star of the two most family friendly films of all time, the author of several children's books (which, by the way, came as a result of her breaking a bet with her stepdaughter that she could go without swearing), and one of the most beautiful singers of all time. Her late husband, Blake Edwards once said, "As long as we've been married, I've never really found anything I didn't like about her." And I feel the same.


So many, many birthday wishes to these three fabulous, favorite ladies of mine. As for that little note about the SMR I mentioned:

You might have noticed that I have been unable to keep up with my biweekly Sunday Movie Review schedule. At the moment, I feel like I'm too busy with schoolwork to really maintain regular features on here, you know? So, as of right now, I'm putting the Sunday Movie Review on the backburner - I will still be doing movie reviews (hopefully still on Sundays to keep some kind of consistency around here, but not necessarily), only there will not be fixed dates for when I put them up. Which means the appearance of reviews on this blog will be a little more erratic, but I do promise to keep on writing them. Hopefully, in the near future I'll be less occupied with real life and will be able to return the SMR to it's usual format, but for the time being, I think that's best. It allows for a greater variety of posts (so not every other article in the stream is a review), as well as when I do do reviews they will be (hopefully) better written and longer. And, I won't feel so guilty about missing SMRs! So the SMR isn't gone - it's only on a kind of a semi hiatus.

That being said, I also promise to be post more frequently. I already have some posts drafted up, so never fret: I'll be spamming your dashboard soon enough again! Also, don't forget to to sign up for the Letter to the Stars blogathon I'm cohosting with Marcella & Nat; you can do so here

And lastly - 


Anonymous said...

I loved that story about Deborah Kerr and rowing the boat. I can just see Mitchum cracking up like that.

silverscreenings said...

Ha ha - I love that story, too, about Deborah Kerr and rowing the boat in her nun's habit.

Nice tribute to all three of these talented women. :)


What a lovely tribute! My granfather's birthdy is also on September 30th, so I'll never forget Deborah's birthday!
And, as a cool coincidence, my grandmother looks like Julie Andrews in The princess diaries!
Loved the curiosities!

Natalie said...

Great post, Rianna! I loved it! I really need to see more Greer Garson, I love her so. (and it's your fault, Ri!)


Gostei da ideia das cartas. Como faço para participar?

O Falcão Maltês

Kate Gorman said...

Great post. I love these actors! xx

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