Saturday, July 25, 2009

Gene Tierney

I know very little about Gene Tierney's film career, but I recently read her autobiography and just had to say something.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about Gene is her total lack of pretention. People usually say that about Ava Gardner, but in my opinion, it is far more true of Gene. Ava Gardner lacked inhibitions. There is a difference.

If I were to describe Gene, I would say she was down to earth, self-possessed, modest without being self-effacing, self-aware, refreshingly self-accepting, and a very genuine human being. Apppearance-wise, she reminds me of a plumper, brunette Grace Kelly, but without her hint of affectation (don't kill me for that one).

That, to me, is what most people leave out when they talk about Tierney--her admirable personal qualities. Not only does she come actoss as level-headed, she seems as though it never occured to her to be any other way. You would not usually think that of a person who suffered from mental illness.

Gene Tierney's account of her struggle with what was most likely bipolar disorder is the heart of her book. Aside from taking up most of the pages writing about it, the descriptions of her delusions are scary and probably very enlightening as to what an ill person suffers from. (I say probably because in spite of what some people think, I am perfectly sane myself and can't know for sure.) Gene relates how she was convinced people were trying to poison her, the guilt she felt about her daughter;s retardation, and her experiences in mental institutuions. One incident was particularly disturbing to read. Gene willing put herself in the hopeless cases ward of one hospital after she thought she heard the patients there making animal noises. She decided she had to teach them more dignified behavior, got herself admitted, and found out a few weeks later that the sounds had come from a nearby zoo.

Gene Tierney is also renowned as a great beauty, and while I disagree somewhat with that assertion, she does claim she wore no makeup in her films after Laura. To look like that without makeup...well, that certainly says something right there about the way she looked.

The Seven Year Itch

I had seen this movie twice before I decided to show it to my family, and in neither viewing was I the least bit impressed with it. I had been hoping for something a lot funnier. Just the same, I didn't (and still don't) feel very strongly about it either way and thought, "Hmmm, maybe the family that has bizarre tast in movies will like this one even though I don't."

Alas. Big mistake. I thought wrong. Seriously, they loathed The Seven Year Itch. I haven't seen such hatred since my mother and I watched Bye Bye, Birdie. If perhaps you've gotten a taste of the sort of criticism my family indulges in, you can imagine what comments were spawned by a movie they despised, but if you can't I'll make it easy for you. Here are some quotes:

"Who on earth would stay married to a nasty old man like that?"
"Hey, she's faaaat!"
"That's the famous skirt-blowing scene? That??"
"This movie was annoying even though I slept through half of it."
"You wouldn't think it was funny if your husband shacked up with some blonde while you were on vacation."

When the whole thing was finished, a lively discussion began on just what sort of mental illness Tom Ewell's character had.

Well, I tried--and failed--but admittedly I didn't like it much more than they did, all because I thought Tom Ewell was very unfunny, and he's basically half the picture, if not three quarters. I also suspect that the general theme--of men being unfaithful while their wives and kids go on vacation--did not appeal to my family because my father works during the summer, and gues who goes on vacation without him? So that idea is really not funny in our house.

Anyway, I'd like to ask your opinions on tSYI. I might as well, since chances are I'll get them anyway, after a negative review.

To be fair, there were some funny moments. I smiled at least five times. And Marilyn Monroe's hair looked nice. However, unless the rest of you looks like Marilyn, don't cut your hair that way unless you want to look like a boy. And I'm saying that because that's just what I did last week. And guess what? I look like a boy.