Monday, July 28, 2014

Summer cinema: The Heiress

Every once in a while at school, a class would be replaced with a movie.  Usually one with at least a modicum of relevance to the subject of the class.  Once, in our Government class, while the teacher presumably caught up on grading tests/papers/worksheets, we were treated to Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.  I'll never forget how all of the girls sighed over Jimmy Stewart.  Filibusters and grafts, all of the political lessons were lost on the dreaminess of this classic film star.

That memory popped into my head as I was watching The Heiress at Paramount last week.  Because like my fellow students by Stewart way back when, I was totally and utterly distracted by the beauty of one Montgomery Clift.
Who could possibly blame the naive titular heiress for falling in love with him?  For the first half of the film, while he woos her despite her comedic awkwardness and her father's suspicions, I knew it was too good to be true, but I kind of just wanted the movie to end right there and pretend that I could also be ridiculously awkward and win the affections of a Clift-lookalike.  Except I don't have the equivalent of millions in inheritance coming to me.  Hmm, a small hitch.

Olivia de Havilland won an Oscar for her role in this, presumably because the Academy was enthralled by her dramatic portrayal of the spurned young lady, but my favorite part of her performance was as the slightly comedic and highly awkward girl Clift seduces.  She was such a great mix of lovely and endearing but completely hopeless.  I love the scene when Clift comes to visit and they are left alone in the drawing room.  I might not be as gullible as de Havilland's character, but I might be just as awkward in the same room as him.

So I have another classic Hollywood hunk to add to my list of timeless crushes.  Although I'm not sure I'll ever be able to trust him...

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