To celebrate women in film – on camera and behind it – Dell on Movies is back with Girl Week 2021, running 22-28 November.
There are no set rules. Dell says: “You can join the fun by posting or talking about films with females in the lead, directed by women, or feature women in some other prominent role.”
For this post I’m putting the spotlight on one of the Golden Age of Hollywood’s most beloved icons, a star of the silver screen who became a princess: Grace Kelly.
Kelly was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1929 and from a young age knew she wanted to be an actress; her uncle, George Kelly, was a Pulitzer Prize-winning dramatist, screenwriter, and director.
After successfully obtaining a place at American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, she landed modelling work and made her Broadway debut in August Strindberg’s The Father.
Kelly’s first film was a minor role in Henry Hathaway’s Fourteen Hours (1951). Her breakthrough roles came in Fred Zinnemann’s High Noon (1952) and John Ford’s Mogambo (1953), the latter securing her a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress and an Academy Award nomination.
During her short-lived career – she retired from acting at age 26 to marry Rainier III and begin her duties as Princess of Monaco – Kelly appeared in just 11 films. In the five years between her first film’s release and her last (High Society, 1956) she made quite an impact.
Essential Grace Kelly
Rear Window (1954)
Kelly stars opposite James Stewart in Alfred Hitchcock’s classic thriller about a photographer (Jeff) who starts tracking the movement’s of his neighbours while recuperating at home following an injury.
From the moment Rear Window started I was invested. One of the joys of Rear Window is that it takes a mundane activity (looking outside your window) and elevates it, indulging our curiosity by presenting us with a comprehensive cast of characters in Jeff’s neighbours, ranging from a professional pianist to the lonely-hearted singleton who always lays the table for one.
Kelly plays Jeff’s socialite girlfriend, Lisa, but she is far more than just a pretty face: she listens to Jeff’s musings and theories before ‘being his legs’ to investigate further while he is confined.
To Catch a Thief (1955)
The third and final pairing of Kelly and Hitchcock – she also starred in Dial M for Murder (1954) – saw Kelly prove to be more than a match for Cary Grant’s John Robie, a retired cat burglar, accused of a string of thefts against wealthy tourists.
While the film is more style over substance, the style is very impressive. Visually it is a gorgeous film thanks to its French Riviera setting, sharp cinematography and beautiful costumes. Kelly’s wardrobe is exquisite, ranging from full length gowns to very chic swimwear.
Grant is equally stylish, choosing his own wardrobe and wearing pieces he would normally wear himself. If you’re interested in To Catch a Thief‘s fashion, take a look at this article on Classiq.
Tragically, Kelly’s life was cut short aged just 52 in 1982 after being involved in a car crash in Monte Carlo. She was survived by her husband and their three children, Caroline, Albert and Stéphanie, and Rainier established the Princess Grace Foundation-USA in her honour to support up-and-coming American artists.
Kelly is a worthy subject for this blogathon, so thanks for including her. I’m, of course, familiar with her, but have only seen a couple of her films. Therefore, you blew me away with the fact that she retired at 26 and only appeared in 11 films. I heard her name so much over the years I just assumed her imdb page was a mile long. Thanks again!
Thank you, Dell. I’m glad I could take part this year.
Grace Kelly is a very well known name and for a myriad reasons – her film career, her television work, her marriage, her charitable work, her untimely death… the list goes on!
Great write up! Grace was so beautiful, I need to see more of her filmography. She was the answer of a Jeopardy question the other day, and no one got it right. I was screaming at my TV lol.
Thank you, Brittani! And glad you got the answer right 😉
I’m glad you chose Grace Kelly…such a beauty and, sorry, grace:). I believe her dad was also a winner at the 1924 Olympics, but I forget what for. She was always try8 g to get his confirmation that she was a success..in anything even her looks. He sounds like a a-hole to be honest. I think that’s why she had so many affairs with her much older leading men. I love the fact that, to state she was a virgin when marrying Prince Rainier but her Hyman broke when riding a horse…hahahaaa. Poor Grace! I love the films you highlighted here and I even like her in The Swan and High Society.
I can’t help but think something more happened on that fateful car ride with her daughter. There were a lot of reports of the daughter’s rebelliousness and stubborn attitude. I could see them have an argument and Stephanie trying to take the wheel being a teenage idiot, not thinking of the consequences. In the end, I can see her mom agree with any cover up because this was her daughter.
She really was the epitome of grace, wasn’t she? She did indeed come from a very successful family. Her uncle, George Kelly, was a Pulitzer Prize-winning dramatist, screenwriter and director while her father won three Olympic gold medals for sculling. He went on to be appointed National Director of Physical Fitness by President Roosevelt!
I really enjoyed High Society; it has a wonderful cast. I’m yet to see The Philadelphia Story so haven’t got it to compare to.
Great picks to shine a spotlight on!!
Not that it’s some great feat since her filmography is so small but I have seen all 11 of her films. I’m in complete agreement that Rear Window is essential and her best film. She’s a perfect mixture of silk and bristle in it and plays off Jimmy Stewart so well. While the picture doesn’t belong to her, there’s too much greatness surrounding her-how did Thelma Ritter’s razor sharp brilliance not garner her a nomination?-she’s an integral part of its success. I’ll never feel she should have won the Oscar over Judy Garland but had she been nominated for this rather than the plodding The Country Girl I wouldn’t have felt it was such a miscarriage.
Of her other films my next favorite is her last-High Society. She plays the comedy well and it’s one of the better musicalized adaptations of a straight play, much of which is due to the proper casting of the four leads.
To Catch a Thief is stylish and sumptuous but rather flyaway, carried by Hitchcock’s skill, the magnetism of its leads and the hilarious Jessie Royce Landis as Grace’s mother.
The only one of her films that was pretty standard stuff, and her only box office failure, is Green Fire. It’s not terrible but nothing special either.
Her post film life was lavish but I don’t think quite the dream world everyone imagined it would be or was. I’ve read her marriage, like all marriages, had it’s rough spots but was ultimately pretty happy. But I was a teen and young adult when her daughters were young and those girls were hellions. Caroline in particular was major tabloid fodder for nearly her entire youth especially her notorious relationship with the man who became briefly her first husband. Any fool, except Caroline apparently, could see the man was not only not suitable but a user. Grace and Rainier finally just threw up their hands and let her marry him and learn the hard way. It did not take long and he was out. Then just as she was starting to settle down Stephanie began to be trouble but Grace died suddenly which seemed to unmoor her even more and she tore her way through several bad relationships herself.
Thank you, Joel!
You’re not a fan of The Country Girl then? I’ve yet to see it but would like to considering both Grace Kelly’s Oscar win and her teaming up with Bing Crosby again.
I enjoyed High Society too. I think it may have been the first film of Frank Sinatra’s that I’d seen. He was quite the cheeky chap in it!
I remember reading about the Monegasque royal family through some of my mum’s magazines when I was a child. Their lifestyles seemed very lavish, but like you say, not everything is as it seems.
I’ve only seen her in these two movies too, Claire! I think Rear Window is a better film of the two though Kelly is so gorgeous in both, and she is more than a pretty face. I remember going to Monaco when I was a young teen w/ my family, so tragic what happened to her.
I agree, Ruth – it was tragic what happened to her. Her life certainly had an impact, and the Princess Grace Foundation-USA, set up in her name after her death, has supported hundreds of American artists.
The third film of hers that I’ve watched is High Society. Of her other work I’d particularly like to see Dial M for Murder and The Country Girl.
Love Grace Kelly. Such a classic beauty. 😊
I agree, T9M – she was such a beauty!