Friday, 6 April 2012

Grace Kelly: More than just a fashion icon...

Grace Kelly has become widely remembered for her timeless elegance, and her to-die-for wardrobe that consisted of some of costume designer Edith Head's most beautiful gowns. Her style is classic, and Grace's style is as iconic today as it was back in the 1950s. Some people, have argued that it is this quality of hers, and this image of her being one of the most fashionable women in the world that has made her so memorable, not her acting talent.

This is far from the truth. I must admit myself that the first films I ever watched starring Grace Kelly were her most famous films directed by Alfred Hitchcock, To Catch A Thief, Dial M For Murder, and Rear Window. Widely believed to be Hitchcock's perfect "cool blonde," Grace's performances in these films are good, and no one could play them like she did, but they do not showcase her acting abilities to the full. I must say that although I liked Grace a lot in these films, I was not totally sold on her, and I too, questioned why she remained so famous today.

Then I saw her in Mogambo, a film she was Oscar-nominated for. In it she plays a prim and proper English woman, who is travelling with her husband in the jungles of Africa, but when she arrives she falls for Clark Gable. I won't spoil the film, but her character does endure some heartbreak, and Grace gives a solid performance. She was effective in the role, showing that she was capable of giving a more demanding performance.

Add her performance in Mogambo and the Hitchcock thrillers, and even her very early role in High Noon, and I respected her as an actress. I had seen enough of her to think, yes, she deserves to be regarded as a screen legend, especially considering the impact she made in film over such a short period of time - 5 years. In that time she had even bagged herself the Best Actress Oscar for her role in The Country Girl, a film I still have yet to see.

However, it was not until I saw her in the musical High Society that I really fell in love with Graciebird. She was endearing, beautiful, exciting, and for a change, very funny - a quality that films hadn't required of her before. Her comic timing was superb, making her an equal match to Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra who were already used to comedic scripts. Throughout the film I felt myself loving Grace more and more, particularly the scene where she gets drunk (most actors are cringeworthy when playing drunk).

I can honestly say now that Grace Kelly was an underrated actress, and I cannot wait to see her Oscar-winning performance in The Country Girl, and her other films such as The Swan and The Bridges at Toko-Ri. She may not be my favourite and not the greatest of her time, but she was what I would call a good actress, and I honestly believe that she made an impact on the films that she was in. Like with James Dean, it saddens me to think that Grace's time onscreen was very brief, especially when she showed so much talent, it is always a shame that we weren't able to see more from these gifted actors. But then I think, it was perfect. We as an audience saw her in her prime, looking her best, and acting her best, and she even said so herself,

'I'll tell you one of the reasons I'm ready to leave. When I first came to Hollywood five years ago, my make-up call was eight in the morning. On this movie it's been put back to seven-thirty. Every day I see Joan Crawford, who's been in makeup since five, and Loretta Young, who's been there since four in the morning. I'll be god-damned if I'm going to stay in a business where I have to get up earlier and earlier and it takes longer and longer for me to get in front of a camera.'

She gave us her all, and left Hollywood to dedicate herself to her new role as Princess Grace of Monaco, wife to Prince Rainier, and a mother. To think that her life on earth was cut short too is heartbreaking. A car crash in 1982 ended her life abruptly, she was only 52.

She maintained that elegance and class that made her so mesmerising through her entire life. She encapsulates Hollywood glamour, and although she did not have as long a career as some of the other legends of classic Hollywood, she definitely deserves her place among Hollywood royalty.

Grace Kelly was a beautiful lady and a wonderful actress, whose class and different roles on and offscreen, have been respected by fans and people the world over for decades. With a film career that spanned a mere five years, she made her mark in Hollywood and in fashion, and the regal elegance she possessed was a quality she continued to embody til her death. Even if she never became Princess of Monaco or Tinseltown, her grace made her a princess anyway. She embodied the name she was given.