Saturday, January 02, 2010

Anthony Lane starts the new year with a nice review of the new biography of Grace Kelly:
Hollywood has, as often as not, been thrown and baffled by its most unearthly beauties; Gene Tierney, Linda Darnell, and Hedy Lamarr boast no more than a pocketful of strong films among them. How did Kelly manage? Well, it may have helped to have grown up in a Philadelphia mansion with seventeen rooms and a chauffeur. It certainly helped that she was not so consumed by desperation for stardom that she would do anything, and buckle under any instruction, to reach it; “the idea of being owned by a studio was offensive to me,” she said. The Kelly who emerges from Spoto’s book is more headstrong, during her years of self-rule, than you might expect; first in her contractual duels, and then in the control of her own image. In 1955, the two strands entwined, as, with an Oscar nomination under her belt, and with the heads of M-G-M snarling and suspending her for turning down roles that they thought she should be grateful for (including that of the ailing Elizabeth Barrett Browning), she took herself and her sister Peggy off to Jamaica, where she arranged to be photographed by Howell Conant. Those who bought Collier’s magazine on June 24th, and checked the cover, knew that they had run into something hot, and that Kelly knew it, too—posing in a pool and staring at the lens, with the water up to her bare shoulders. What went on below the surface, or what had come off, was ours to guess. This is not the action of a cold fish.

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