On this final day in the Spencer Tracy/Katharine Hepburn Blogathon, I’m training my eye on The Actress: a film which marked the fifth and final collaboration between Spencer Tracy and director George Cukor. After teaming on Keeper of the Flame (1943), Edward My Son (1949), Adam’s Rib (1949), and Pat & Mike; Tracy and Cukor’s final collaborative hurrah was with the serio-comic domesticity of 1953’s The Actress.
|Jean Simmons as Ruth Gordon Jones|
|Spencer Tracy as Clinton Jones|
|Teresa Wright (given not a single closeup in the entire film) as Annie Jones|
|Anthony Perkins (making his film debut) as Fred Whitmarsh|
|Clinton's most treasured possession is the spyglass he purchased during his youth as a sailor|
|Former child actor Jackie Coogan (better known as "Uncle Fester" on The Addams Family TV series) is hilarious as an over-amused spectator at the YMCU fitness exhibition. Ruth is appropriately mortified.|
|The likability of the actors cast goes far in mitigating the fact that several roles, Anthony Perkins' moony suitor Fred Whitmarsh, for example, are a tad underdeveloped|
Much like my experience with the film adaptation of Thornton Wilder's The Matchmaker, I came to The Actress with low expectations and found myself not only surprised by how good it is, but completely captivated by its simplicity and charm.
The film's vignette structure may play a bit of havoc with Ruth and Fred's relationship (we never understand whether it's as serious as Fred takes it or as casual as Ruth makes it out to be), but it nicely suits the photo album/scrapbook setup of the title sequence. The script is witty, the performances uniformly fine.
Of course, given my own life-changing brush with the arts (see: the Xanadu post), I can't help but find certain details of Ruth Gordon's teen years to resonate with me and have a certain universal appeal.
|Ruth's reaction to seeing Hazel Dawn (Kay Williams) on the stage is not unlike my response to seeing the critically lambasted 1980 musical Xanadu. So inspired was I by that film, I embarked on a career as a dancer.|
|Effort and hard work are indispensable, but having dreams is where it all begins|
Happy Ending: went to LA even without a place to live, got my deposit refund, spent the entire day apartment-hunting and found a place before sundown on the very same day I arrived (on a weekend, yet).
So, you see, there's much in The Actress that speaks to anybody who strikes out on their own, armed with little more than impossible dreams and a foundationless belief in self.
Copyright © Ken Anderson