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Friday, January 29, 2016

THE COUNTRY GIRL -- Movie Review by Porfle

A busy year for Grace Kelly, 1954 would bring what was arguably her greatest success as an actress--namely, the Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of Georgie Elgin in director George Seaton's Best Picture contender THE COUNTRY GIRL.

Bing Crosby snagged a Best Actor nomination as Georgie's alcoholic husband Frank. (The movie received seven nominations in all.)

William Holden (THE BRIDGES AT TOKO-RI) is back and bursting with energy in the role of Bernie Dodd, a hot-shot Broadway director who ignores his backers' misgivings by wanting to hire the washed-up Frank for the lead role in a new musical despite his potential unreliability.

After a successful audition, insecure Frank disappears when he discovers he's up for the pivotal part instead of a simple supporting role. Bernie tracks him down to convince him that he can handle it--but can he?

As Frankie's mousey wife Georgie, Grace Kelly gains extra critical cred by toning the glamour dial way down. In fact, she's probably as close to "dowdy" here as the future Princess of Monaco could possibly get without going full Jane Hathaway. (Bernie evens chides Georgie for trying too hard to look plain.)

Since their young son (a pre-"Lassie" Jon Provost) was killed while in Frank's care, the distraught dad has been on a downward spiral that Georgie's tried her best to stop even if it means overly protecting him to the point of being domineering, of which Bernie accuses her.

When the play's early notices aren't exactly glowing and Frank starts hitting the bottle again, it becomes apparent to Bernie that Georgie's influence over her husband may have been more crucial than he suspected.

Not only that, but more secrets about Frank's past come to light which convince Bernie he's got a much bigger problem on his hands than he ever imagined.

Grace not only holds her own next to both Holden and a very effective Crosby, but spars expertly with them in several emotionally-charged exchanges that really give her acting skills a workout.

Any reservations I might've had about her getting by mainly on girlish good looks and an elegant charm are put to rest watching her make the most of this demanding role. One thing's for sure after the fadeout--she deserved that Oscar.

THE COUNTRY GIRL skirts the line between pathos and bathos and ends up just on the right side of it with a satisfying conclusion which rewards our emotional investment in it. 

Read our review of the GRACE KELLY COLLECTION


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