Why Don’t You Give Up This Going On the Stage Business and Settle Down With a Nice Man?

Posted: 27/10/2013 in 1973


It needs to be first of all state that George Cukor’s The Actress is a delightful little gem.  There have been some big colossal films this year, and it is refreshing to see something this small in scope and tightly wound come across the big screen.  The theme of young women wanting to break out and show the world the power of independent women has run rather strong this year.  Leslie Caron in Lili, Maggie McNamera in The Moon is Blue, and of course Audrey Hepburn in the outstanding Roman Holiday have all provided us these different facets of these wonderful independent women this year.  I would have to say that Jean Simmon’s portrayal of Ruth Gordon Jones (in, as it turns out, Ms Gordon’s autobiographical screenplay) is right up there with those performances this year.  In the end, this is a heartfelt and personal film throughout, and the directing, writing, and acting all drive that home for us.

Kudos most first and foremost be given to Spencer Tracy as Clinton Jones, the overbearing, but clearly loving, father of Ruth.  His comedic timing is simply impeccable and he owns every single scene that he is in.  No disrespect to Miss Simmons performance, but Mr. Tracy end up owning this film about his daughter the inspiring actress.  In a year where most of the great performances have been dramatic, it is refreshing to get this very well played comedic performance from an actor that can quite simply do it all.

After all things are considered though, the very heart and soul of The Actress is none other than Ruth Gordon herself.  This film is her story, and she tells it with beautiful passion and honesty.  This film needed a female screenwriter, and who better to tell the story than the protagonist herself?  It’s not a big film, it’s not a perfect film (Teresa Wright and Anthony Perkins are rather two-dimensional throughout), but it is a personal one, and so for that I thank Ms Gordon for this window into her soul.

***1/2 ~AOS


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