I wrote this review for The Third Wonderful Grace Kelly Blogathon! It’s an honor to participate and celebrate one of my favorite actresses. Check out the other submissions here!
Two years before she became a princess, Grace Kelly starred in the 1954 film The Country Girl directed by George Seaton. The film is centered on her husband Frank, played by Bing Crosby, who’s given the chance to revive his career and star in a new musical. It seems the play’s director Bernie, played by William Holden, is the only person who believes Frank can pull off this part. Even Kelly’s character Georgie is unsure her husband is ready to work again.
The film’s simple premise is elevated by the audience having to actively piece together the reason Frank’s career faded. On the surface, it appears George is the reason because of her controlling and almost cold attitude towards her husband. This is exactly what Bernie believes and he isn’t shy about his dislike for Kelly’s character. We learn early on that Frank and Georgie’s life turned upside down after the death of their son. Throughout the film, we learn more and more about how their son’s death affected their life and relationship.
Kelly’s character Georgie is more troubled and restrained than other characters she’s played. The Country Girl was a risk for Kelly and it pays off as she’s perhaps the greatest part of the film. The entire film is anchored on her character. Without her, the film wouldn’t be as remembered as it is today.
I found Georgie to be very well written female character, especially for a classic film. Throughout the film, her character is constantly looked down on and criticized for speaking her mind and being far from a submissive wife. It’s almost shocking to see how Georgie is disrespected by the other characters. As the film progresses, we learn more about Georgie and how she’s not only being strong for herself but for her husband as well.
The major problems I had with The Country Girl were the various attempts to ‘Hollywoodize’ the script. There’s a scene towards the end with Bernie arguing with Georgie then almost at random, kissing her passionately. Although The Country Girl isn’t a musical, there’s a few musical numbers spread throughout. These scenes felt extremely out of place and seemed to only exist to mold The Country Girl into a more mainstream ‘romance’ and ‘musical’. The additions were unnecessary and took away from the main themes of the film.
The Country Girl earned Grace Kelly her first and only Academy Award for Best Actress. There’s still discussions today about if she really deserved the award. Kelly transformed herself for her role in The Country Girl and gave an unforgettable and heartbreaking performance. What’s also worth remembering is The Country Girl was one of five films starring Kelly released in 1954. The other films included The Bridges at Toko-Ri, Green Fire, Rear Window, and Dial M For Murder. While her performance in The Country Girl was enough to win the award, I’m sure the voters took into consideration her other films released that year. It’s hard not to smile seeing Kelly with her well deserved Oscar!
The Country Girl is notable for it’s realistic look at alcoholism, misogyny, and mental illness. Some of the aspects feel dated and awkward but are handled better than most films from the era. The film will probably be remembered today for Kelly’s transformative performance which won her the Oscar which is fair. Without Kelly, the film wouldn’t have been as successful and memorable.
Grace Kelly was only an actress for around 5 years before marrying the Prince of Monaco, never to act again. It’s amazing how much of an impact she made in those short few years in Hollywood. If only we could’ve seen her continue to flourish and grace the silver screen, imagine the performances we could’ve gotten from her! But rightfully so, she’ll be remembered as an actress, princess, style icon, and mother who’s poise and elegance remains unmatched.
Grace Kelly and George Seaton with their Best Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay Academy Awards