An Oscar for a Future Princess
William Hare | Seattle, Washington | 07/13/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The year 1955 proved a memorable one for Grace Kelly in a number of respects, two of which involved winning an Oscar and meeting a prince who would ask her to marry him and share a kingdom with him. It sounds like the grist for a romance novel, but it all actually happened in the kingdom of Hollywood cinema.
It was the glamorous Grace Kelly that Prince Rainier of Monaco would meet on the French Riviera when she was playing a rich heiress in Alfred Hitchcock's "To Catch a Thief". The irony is that in her other film that was released that same year, "The Country Girl", she won a Best Actress Academy Award by playing the only role of her short but illustrious career that was decidedly against type.
Whereas Kelly, the Philadelphia girl who became a glamorous fashion model in New York, played her natural image in every respect in two Hitchcock classics, "Rear Window" and "To Catch a Thief", she was challenged in the film in between by director George Seaton, who adapted the play of hard-boiled Depression playwright Clifford Odets to the screen in "The Country Girl".
Kelly's character is the opposite of what she appears to be in the early stages of the film. She plays the wife of hard luck Broadway actor-singer Bing Crosby, who has never been able to assuage the guilt he felt over not being able to save their son and only child from death in a New York traffic accident.
Crosby takes to alcohol and becomes extremely depressed, using Kelly as a crutch. He implores her to make decisions, including some unpopular ones that make people angry with her, all the while seeking to portray himself as an all-purpose nice guy who is relaxed and at peace with himself.
When Broadway stage director William Holden seeks to case Crosby as his lead in an upcoming production he is fought tenaciously by the show's producer and prevails only after insisting he will walk out if not given an opportunity to at least see how well the veteran performer plays in a Boston run prior to coming to New York. If he does not pan out then Crosby will be replaced.
Holden, who is on the rebound from a tragic divorce, is immediately skeptical of Kelly. He believes her to be the problem behind her husband's lack of confidence and tough times after earlier Broadway successes. As he learns more and more he not only changes his mind about Kelly and apologizes; he falls in love with her.
This is a film about the trials and tribulations of Broadway theatrical people and their determination to rise above all obstacles. The trio of Kelly, Crosby and Holden walk on eggshells concerning the show and added complications resulting from the director's increasing admiration for the star's wife.
Kelly plays her role with great sensitivity. To present her in a more dour light famous costume designer Edith Head was instructed to create an appropriate wardrobe for her to tone down the glamour that made her world famous. Her hairstyles were also reflective of a sober woman unconcerned about glamour. Such a role understandably was a challenge for one of the most glamorous women ever to set foot on a Hollywood sound stage or grace the covers of fashion magazines."
An excellent film
Sean Orlosky | Yorktown, IN United States | 12/21/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
""The Country Girl" is certainly a superior drama, one that has everything necessary to make a classic film: excellent performances, directing, script, etc. The film tells the story of an alcoholic has-been actor (Bing Crosby) who is given a chance to star in a new show by a no-nonsense director (William Holden). The actor's dowdy wife (Grace Kelly) is bitter and hard towards her husband, but has suffered and continues to suffer with his drinking after years of marriage. Soon it appears that the wife is dragging the husband down, and the director must force her to leave... when only she can stand her husband up again. The film makes for a taut, intense drama, with a superb Oscar-winning screenplay. Crosby was nominated for an Oscar (one which I honestly feel he deserved, for his unsettling, sobering portrayal of the has-been actor). Crosby is brilliant in his role, battling the demons of his past, having a drunken fit of violence, or even lying cunningly- Crosby runs the gamut. Kelly won the Oscar for Best Actress. Well... Kelly does have some genuinely great scenes, and she adds wonderful, subtle nuances to her intense performance, and she can do everything that an actress is supposed to do with such a role (and when she yells at Holden in one scene, it is pretty scary)... but sometimes it just seems like watching Grace Kelly without makeup. Kelly was indeed a very talented actress, and the performance was certainly worthy of a nomination, but that year... I really feel that Judy Garland's performance in "A Star Is Born" is the better performance, for Garland's dramatic abilities and human honesty literally stun and tear the viewer's heart to pieces. I hate to sound so cynical, but in that performance, Kelly deglamorized herself and really acted for the first time. She won the Oscar. Forgive me.Even so, the film is still a dramatic and sometimes disturbing picture. William Holden's restrained performance adds a nice coda to the film, as do George Seaton's direction. "The Country Girl" is indeed a timeless film, and one that should be watched and enjoyed over many years."
"For years no one has ever touched me"
M. J Leonard | Silver Lake, Los Angeles, CA United States | 09/21/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The beautiful Grace Kelly was awarded with the Oscar for Best Actress for her role as the long-suffering, embittered wife Georgie Elgin in The Country Girl, and rightly so. It's a beautifully understated performance and an interesting departure for Kelly, who obviously had the guts to take up such an unglamorous role and make it her own.
But the Country Girl isn't just about Grace Kelly. Bing Crosby and William Holden also turn in absolutely knockout performances and manage to hold their own against the actress in this unashamedly theatrical melodrama.
Based on Clifford Odets' play, The Country Girl is all about lies and deceit, and disappointment and blame; it's the story of a washed up, alcoholic actor, and his wife, who has spent the last ten years of her life caring for him, even though she's gone to seed because of it.
Bing Crosby stars as Frank Elgin. Frank is desperate to get back onto the stage. A natural showman, and a once famous singer, Frank has sunk to an all time low after a terrible accident took the life of his young son. Wracked with guilt and blaming himself for his death, Frank had turned to the bottle, with his control freak wife Georgie (Kelly) left to pick up the pieces.
But Frank is also a liar and a schemer, and tells Bernie Dodd (William Holden), his childhood idol, that it was actually Georgie who took up drinking and tried to commit suicide. This leads Bernie to treat Georgie badly, even though, after all these years, she has been trying to help Frank to stand on his own two feet.
Frank is among the best-crafted passive-aggressive characters ever and his different sets of lies to Georgie and to Frank end up in a nasty confrontation over who has Frank's best interests at heart. Frank sets it up so that he's never the bad guy and always the victim.
Each character brings their own bitterness and guilt to the situation - Frank just can't go on and let go of the pain; Georgie feels trapped in a dependent marriage, increasingly embittered; and Bernie, badly burned by his own failed marriage, sees only animosity in a women like Georgie.
Although some of the onstage dancing and singing routines are a little long and overly dull, the movie certainly makes up for this by giving us a number of rapid fire exchanges between the three lead characters. Viewers have a chance to see how Hollywood stars used to transform and enlarge performances without having to rely on the distractions of much action.
Consequently, the showdown between Bernie and Georgie is spectacular, it's one of the best dramatic scenes ever seen on film, even if it involves little more than angst-ridden dialogue. But The Country Girl is mostly worth watching for the exquisite Grace Kelly who just shines as the character, who refers to herself as a simple "country girl" but who clearly contains far more wisdom, pent-up desires, and street smarts than she's willing to let on. Mike Leonard September 05.
Better Than Average Transfer for this Country Girl
Nix Pix | Windsor, Ontario, Canada | 03/05/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
""The Country Girl" is one of the finest films in Paramount's illustrious catalogue of library titles; a poignantly tragic love story with a show biz background, it stars Bing Crosby in a decided departure from his usual light-hearted form. Crosby is Frank Elgin, a one time musical comedy legend now barely holding it together between drinks and his guilt-ridden angst over a dark secret. Georgie (Grace Kelly) is Frank's emotionally prostrated wife and the only ray of hope in his life. Bernie Dodd (William Holden, is the parasitic director of a new Broadway play that affords Frank his last chance at the big time. Believing that Georgie is the cause of Frank's loneliness Bernie deliberately keeps her at bay, the net result; a burgeoning and not so unlikely romance brewing between the two. Though outstanding in the pivotal role of Georgie, Grace Kelly's lacks what Judy Garland gave Esther Bloggett in 1954's A Star is Born or Gloria Swanson's maniacal rampages in Sunset Blvd. - these latter two nominated opposite Kelly for Best Actress at the Oscars. Ultimately Kelly walked off with the little gold bald guy which, in retrospect, was an error in judgment. Based on the play by immanent playwright, Clifford Odet and with a brilliant underscoring from Harold Arlen and Victor Young, this classic, directed by George Seaton is a profoundly stirring cinematic drama. Lots to be happy about with the video quality on this disc. Presented in full-screen, much of the film exhibits a sharp B&W image with a nicely balanced gray scale and deep, solid blacks. Contrast levels are bang on and film grain is minimal for a generally smooth image. This discs single failing is in the amount of dust and scratches visible. While some scenes are relatively clean others are riddle in blemishes that generally distract. The audio is Mono but very nicely preserved. There are no extra features on this disc."