(See previous post: “Joan Fontaine Today.”) Also tonight on Turner Classic Movies, Joan Fontaine can be seen in today’s lone TCM premiere, the flag-waving 20th Century Fox release The Above All (1942), with Fontaine as an aristocratic (but socially conscious) English Rose named Prudence Cathaway (Fontaine was born to British parents in Japan) and Fox’s top male star, Tyrone Power, as her AWOL romantic interest. This Above All was directed by Anatole Litvak, who would guide Olivia de Havilland in the major box office hit The Snake Pit (1948), which earned her a Best Actress Oscar nod.
In Max Ophüls’ darkly romantic Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948), Fontaine delivers not only what is probably the greatest performance of her career, but also one of the greatest movie performances ever. Letter from an Unknown Woman is also one of those rare Hollywood movies that believably capture uncontrolled human passion. Hitchcock’s Vertigo may be generally considered the greatest movie about obsessive desire; but in my humble opinion, it doesn’t hold a candle to Letter from an Unknown Woman. Note: This independently made, Universal-distributed masterwork, on a par with Ophüls’ magisterial Madame De, failed to be nominated for a single Academy Award.
’The Constant Nymph,’ ’Until They Sail,’ and Joan Fontaine’s Paramount and Universal movies
For decades, Warner Bros.’ The Constant Nymph (1943) was nearly impossible to find due to rights issues. As a fourteen-year-old in love with her older cousin’s composer husband (Charles Boyer), Fontaine (instead of Warners contract player Joan Leslie) won her third and final Best Actress Oscar nomination. Edmund Goulding directed.
And finally, in Robert Wise’s Until They Sail (1957) Fontaine is one of four sisters — Jean Simmons, Piper Laurie, and Sandra Dee are the other three — entangled with various military men during World War II. Paul Newman is one of the guys in question.
And here’s hoping that in the near future TCM will make available Joan Fontaine’s movies belonging to the Universal and Paramount libraries, e.g., Ivy; Kiss the Blood Off My Hands; The Emperor Waltz; Darling, How Could You!; Something to Live For; September Affair; Flight to Tangier; and You Gotta Stay Happy. Not to mention the independently made 1938 comedy A Million to One and the British-made The Devil’s Own. And why not, the 1978 Hollywood-set TV movie The Users.
A Carmel, Calif., resident, Joan Fontaine turns 96 on October 22, 2013.
Joan Fontaine movies: TCM schedule on August 6
3:00 AM MUSIC FOR MADAME (1937). Director: John Blystone. Cast: Nino Martini, Joan Fontaine, Alan Mowbray, Billy Gilbert, Alan Hale, Grant Mitchell, Erik Rhodes, Lee Patrick, Frank Conroy, Bradley Page, Romo Vincent, Jack Carson, Ward Bond, Mary Carr, Jack Mulhall, Pat O’Malley, Barbara Pepper, Milburn Stone. BW-81 mins.
4:30 AM A DAMSEL IN DISTRESS (1937). Director: George Stevens. Cast: Fred Astaire, Joan Fontaine, George Burns, Gracie Allen, Reginald Gardiner, Constance Collier, Ray Noble, Montagu Love, Harry Watson, Jan Duggan, Charles Bennett, May Beatty, Monte Blue, Jack Carson, Sam Harris. BW-101 mins.
6:15 AM BORN TO BE BAD (1950). Director: Nicholas Ray. Cast: Joan Fontaine, Robert Ryan, Zachary Scott, Joan Leslie, Mel Ferrer, Virginia Farmer, Harold Vermilyea, Kathleen Howard, Dick Ryan, Bess Flowers, Irving Bacon, Joy Hallward, Gordon Oliver. BW-90 mins.
8:00 AM THE BIGAMIST (1953). Director: Ida Lupino. Cast: Joan Fontaine, Ida Lupino, Edmund O’Brien, Edmund Gwenn, Kenneth Tobey, Jane Darwell, Peggy Maley, Matt Dennis, Lillian Fontaine, John Maxwell, Ralph Brooks, Collier Young. BW-79 mins.
9:30 AM BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT (1956). Director: Fritz Lang. Cast: Dana Andrews, Joan Fontaine, Sidney Blackmer, Arthur Franz, Philip Bourneuf, Edward Binns, Shepperd Strudwick, Robin Raymond, Barbara Nichols, Dan Seymour, Rusty Lane, Joyce Taylor, Carleton Young, Joe Kirk, Charles Evans, Franklyn Farnum, John George, Sam Harris. BW-80 mins.
11:00 AM IVANHOE (1952). Director: Richard Thorpe. Cast: Robert Taylor, Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Fontaine, George Sanders, Finlay Currie, Emlyn Williams, Robert Douglas, Felix Aylmer, Francis De Wolff, Norman Wooland, Basil Sydney, Harold Warrender, Patrick Holt, Sebastian Cabot, Michael Brennan, Megs Jenkins, Guy Rolfe. C-107 mins.
1:00 PM GUNGA DIN (1939). Director: George Stevens. Cast: Cary Grant, Victor McLaglen, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Joan Fontaine, Sam Jaffe, Eduardo Ciannelli, Montagu Love, Robert Coote, Abner Biberman, Lumsden Hare, Charles Bennett, Cecil Kellaway, Sam Harris, and possibly Richard Farnsworth. BW-117 mins.
3:00 PM SUSPICION (1941). Director: Alfred Hitchcock. Cast: Cary Grant, Joan Fontaine, Cedric Hardwicke, Nigel Bruce, Dame May Whitty, Isabel Jeans, Heather Angel, Auriol Lee, Reginald Sheffield, Leo G. Carroll, Billy Bevan, Faith Brook, Leonard Carey, Clive Cook, Lumsden Hare, Edward Fielding, Gavin Gordon, Aubrey Mather. BW-100 mins.
5:00 PM REBECCA (1940). Director: Alfred Hitchcock. Cast: Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine, George Sanders, Judith Anderson, Nigel Bruce, Florence Bates, Reginald Denny, C. Aubrey Smith, Gladys Cooper, Melville Cooper, Leo G. Carroll, Lumsden Hare, Leonard Carey, Edward Fielding, Philip Winter, Forrester Harvey, Billy Bevan, Gino Corrado. BW-130 mins.
7:30 PM LETTER FROM AN UNKNOWN WOMAN (1948). Director: Max Ophüls. Cast: Joan Fontaine, Louis Jourdan, Mady Christians, Marcel Journet, Carol Yorke, Howard Freeman, Art Smith, John Good, Leo B. Pessin, Erskine Sanford, Betty Blythe. BW-87 mins.
9:15 PM THIS ABOVE ALL (1942). Director: Anatole Litvak. Cast: Tyrone Power, Joan Fontaine, Thomas Mitchell, Henry Stephenson, Nigel Bruce, Gladys Cooper, Philip Merivale, Sara Allgood, Alexander Knox, Queenie Leonard, Melville Cooper, Jill Esmond, Holmes Herbert, Denis Green, Arthur Shields, Thomas Louden, Miles Mander, Dennis Hoey, John Abbott, Billy Bevan, Leonard Carey, May Beatty, Clyde Cook, Mary Forbes, Forrester Harvey, Lumsden Hare, Aubrey Mather, Doris Lloyd, Wyndham Standing, Heather Thatcher, Rhys Williams. BW-111 mins.
11:15 PM THE CONSTANT NYMPH (1943). Director: Edmund Goulding. Cast: Charles Boyer, Joan Fontaine, Alexis Smith, Brenda Marshall, Charles Coburn, Dame May Whitty, Peter Lorre, Joyce Reynolds, Jean Muir, Montagu Love, Eduardo Ciannelli, Janine Crispin, Doris Lloyd, Joan Blair, André Charlot, Marcel Dalio, Crauford Kent, Sam Harris, Wilbur Mack. BW-112 mins.
1:15 AM UNTIL THEY SAIL (1957). Director: Robert Wise. Cast: Jean Simmons, Joan Fontaine, Paul Newman, Piper Laurie, Sandra Dee, Charles Drake, Alan Napier, Wally Cassell, Ralph Votrian, John Wilder, Tige Andrews, Adam Kennedy, Mickey Shaughnessy, Patrick Macnee, Franklyn Farnum, Stuart Holmes, Dean Jones, . BW-95 mins. Letterbox Format.
Cary Grant, Joan Fontaine in Suspicion publicity shot via Doctor Macro.