Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Eleanor Parker...

One of my faves....
Eleanor Parker...I might call her the most underrated and underappreciated actress from Hollywood's Golden era and certainly one of the most beautiful of ANY era. In her day she was quite a big star and played opposite many of the top leading men in big-budget A-pictures but today it seems the only thing anyone remembers her from is her thankless role in "The Sound of Music". This pic was scanned from a Swedish postcard I have. I think this particular photo shoot was to promote "The Woman in White" but I'm not certain.
The first film I ever saw her in was William Wyler's 1951 masterpiece "Detective Story" playing opposite an extremely intense Kirk Douglas. Eleanor played the part of Kirk's plain, long-suffering wife with great sensitivity and restraint. I think anyone who's seen this film will agree, hanging with Kirk on this production was no easy task, but Eleanor and the top notch supporting cast headed by William Bendix (yo-ho!) did just that. She received her 2nd Oscar nomination as best actress for her work in that film.
I have to admit, I wasnt really taken by her looks much in that film. She was dressed way down and was made up plain and ordinary which was of course exactly how she was supposed to look! The next film I saw her in changed that attitude completely...

1945's "Pride of the Marines", directed by Delmer Daves and starring the immortal John Garfield was the film where I truly fell in love with Eleanor Parker! She is not only gorgeous beyond words in this film but she once again played her role with conviction and sensitivity. I vividly recall waching this and saying to myself "Holy shit, that's the woman from Detective Story!". I started to actively seek out more of her films at the video store.

A scan of an original 11"x14" Lobby Card I have from the film. I can only imagine how many red-blooded American males in 1945 wished they were the ones that came home to Eleanor Parker after the war was over! For those that have never seen this film I can not recommend it highly enough. On the merits of Garfield's performance alone I would call it a must-see but the whole picture is incredibly well-done and is a far cry from the flag-waving war films that Hollywood had been turning out in the years prior. The 2 stars also performed "Pride of the Marines" on Lux Radio Theater on Dec 31st 1945. This is the one and only radio show I have in my collection and it's quite good!

A beautiful vintage autographed 5"x7" photo that I picked up many years ago. It seems one time while at the MGM commissary in the early 1950's she was spied by Spencer Tracy who didnt recognize who she was and simply remarked "That simply HAS to have an accent!"
I wonder what Kate would've thought of a remark like that!

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