Thursday, December 17, 2009

RIP Jennifer Jones

For all intents and purposes Jones started her film career with a Best Actress Oscar for The Song of Bernadette in 1943; she ended it definitively a little over 30 years later with a dramatic plunge from The Towering Inferno ("poor Bernadette!" my mother gasped.) A third act of philanthropy--and avoidance of strolls down memory lane--followed. In between were four more Oscar nominations, two for films I like, 1946's lurid Duel in the Sun ("Pearl Chavez!") and a personal favorite, 1955's Love is a Many-Splendored Thing, as much for its views of a lost Hong Kong as for her own performance (pictured with co-star William Holden, she played mixed-race parts with as much delicacy, and sensuality, as the scripts allowed her). Other notable parts: 1948's Portrait of Jennie (with another great setting, a wintry Central Park), Vincente Minnelli's Madame Bovary (1949), William Wyler's Carrie (1952), driving Laurence Olivier to understandable distraction, and John Huston's We Were Strangers (1949), opposite John Garfield, and his curious Beat the Devil (1953). There's ample material there for a TCM tribute, which might excavate her obscure 60s credits The Idol and the eccentric Angel, Angel Down We Go.

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