Graceful Ms Kelly

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Grace Kelly’s parents really must have known what they were doing when they chose a christian name for their daughter. A more suitable name I cannot imagine, and it makes everything that she has to offer so much more delectable.

James Harvey writes in his book Movie Love In The Fifties that Grace Kelly ‘s Rear Window character, a New York sophisticate, was a ‘hopeless airhead’
(2001:76). Aside from a slight over-criticism of Kelly’s style and beauty, Harvey does not seem otherwise to dislike her. He characterises her Lisa Fremont, in Hitchcock’s 1954 film, by her ‘name-dropping and pettish manner, the giddy talk about the posh life, the aggressive gentility and “refinement”‘. This is a close enough description, I suppose, although a slight too harsh, but his largest mistake lies at the essence of it all: Grace Kelly could never, ever be an airhead. She does spend most of her time socialising around cocktails and gowns but there is always an unmistakable sense that she is tremendously intelligent, and that she reads about the world and its ways underneath all those fashion magazines. It doesn’t matter that we see her reading magazines when Jeff (James Stewart) isn’t looking. Because she is Grace Kelly, far too beautiful and graceful for her to be without intelligence.

It’s too much right now for me to argue how much i don’t agree with Harvey’s assertion that films in the fifties got progressively safer and less interesting (‘[i]n spite of the exceptions’ is his only precursor- what a ridiculous thing to say) (2001:72). But it’s definately something that I will be thinking deeply about for the next few days, at least, and that everyone familiar with the period should think about too.

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About cinemelo

I love to write about film and comment on culture. Hopefully providing insight and interesting thoughts for fellow cultural itinerants.
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