‘TCM Remembers 2011’: From old-timers Farley Granger & Annie Girardot to a couple of actresses who made their name in notorious ‘sex films’
“TCM Remembers 2011” is out. As always, Turner Classic Movies’ latest “TCM Remembers” compilation is an impressive tribute, saluting dozens of world cinema personalities who left Planet Earth this past year.
Names range from Hollywood stars Farley Granger and Elizabeth Taylor to French cinema stars Annie Girardot and Marie-France Pisier; from British cinema stars Diane Cilento and Googie Withers to Lena Nyman and Maria Schneider, the female leads in a couple of scandalous “sex films” of the 1960s and 1970s.
Immediately below is the “TCM Remembers 2011” video, to the tune of OK Sweetheart’s “Before You Go.” Further down is a list of most of the talent featured in it.
See also: “Oscar In Memoriam Mix Up.”
With this “TCM Remembers 2011” video, Turner Classic Movies pays homage to a whole array of world cinema luminaries. These include Farley Granger, Googie Withers, Annie Girardot, Marie-France Pisier, Cliff Robertson, Betty Garrett, Elizabeth Taylor, Jane Russell, Ken Russell, Lena Nyman, Maria Schneider, They Shoot Horses Don’t They? actors Susannah York and Michael Sarrazin, and the last two surviving English-language leading ladies of the silent era, Miriam Seegar and Barbara Kent. This year’s “TCM Remembers” song is OK Sweetheart’s “Before You Go.”
A Samuel Goldwyn discovery, “TCM Remembers” honoree Farley Granger began working in front of the camera in the mid-1940s (The North Star, The Purple Heart). Following a four-year break, his Hollywood career finally took off later in the decade.
Yet with the exception of Charles Vidor’s 1952 box office hit Hans Christian Andersen, with Danny Kaye in the title role, Granger’s most important films were those he made away from Goldwyn:
- Nicholas Ray’s socially conscious film noir They Live by Night (1948), with Granger and fellow Goldwyn contract player Cathy O’Donnell – both on loan to RKO – as, respectively, an escaped convict and the woman who nurses him back to health.
- Alfred Hitchcock’s crime drama Rope (1948), with Granger and John Dall as two young, arrogant, and wealthy lovers/murderers.
- Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train (1951), in which Granger becomes entangled with gay psycho Robert Walker, who suggests they swap murders.
- Luchino Visconti’s sumptuous 1860s-set period drama Senso (1954), chronicling Italian countess Alida Valli’s romantic involvement with Granger’s unscrupulous Austrian army lieutenant stationed in Austria-occupied Venice.
After his Hollywood career went downhill in the late 1950s, Granger traveled east, initially to Broadway (First Impressions, The Crucible) and then further east, to Italy, where he starred in a series of B thrillers/horror dramas, among them Mario Colucci’s Something Creeping in the Dark (1971), Roberto Bianchi Montero’s So Sweet, So Dead (1972), Renzo Russo’s The Red Headed Corpse (1972), and Giovanni d’Eramo’s Death Will Have Your Eyes (1974).
Farley Granger’s lover/companion of nearly five decades was TV producer Robert Calhoun (1930–2008). In the late 1980s, Granger was featured in several episodes of Calhoun’s soap opera As the World Turns.
Anne Francis & Yvette Vickers & Elaine Stewart
This year’s “TCM Remembers” acknowledges a trio of alluring Hollywood actresses of the 1950s: Anne Francis, Yvette Vickers, and Elaine Stewart.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer contract player Anne Francis is best remembered as inner-city English teacher Glenn Ford’s concerned wife in Richard Brooks’ socially conscious drama Blackboard Jungle (1955) and as scientist Walter Pidgeon’s miniskirt-wearing daughter in Fred M. Wilcox’s sci-fi classic Forbidden Planet (1956).
A busy TV actress all the way into the early 21st century, Anne Francis made an Emmy-nominated splash as the groovy private eye Honey West in the series (1965–1966) of the same name.
Vixenish Yvette Vickers was the memorable victim of Allison Hayes’ 50-foot woman in Nathan Juran’s Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958) and of a bunch of giant Everglades leeches in Bernard L. Kowalski’s Attack of the Giant Leeches (1959).
Elaine Stewart is best known for supporting roles in two MGM productions of the mid-1950s: as Anne Boleyn in George Sidney’s Young Bess (1953) and as Gene Kelly’s socialite fiancée in Vincente Minnelli’s musical Brigadoon (1954).
Another 1950s leading lady seen in “TCM Remembers” is Berlin-born, British-raised Dana Wynter, who has a special place in film history for her – excellent – performance as Kevin McCarthy’s companion in Don Siegel’s horror/sci-fi classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956).
Wynter was also featured in prominent roles in several other prestigious 1950s releases, including Henry Koster’s D-Day the Sixth of June (1956), enmeshed in a love triangle with Robert Taylor and Richard Todd; Richard Brooks’ Kenya-set race/political drama Something of Value (1957), opposite Rock Hudson; and Michael Anderson’s 1920s Dublin-set I.R.A. drama Shake Hands with the Devil (1959), with James Cagney and Don Murray.
In 1960, Dana Wynter landed a good part as Kenneth More’s coolly efficient second officer in Lewis Gilbert’s well-regarded, British-made World War II drama Sink the Bismarck!.
Ten years later, she was equally memorable in a small but showy role as Burt Lancaster’s neglected, embittered, and strikingly elegant wife in George Seaton’s Oscar-nominated all-star blockbuster Airport (1970).
One of the non-Hollywood luminaries found in the 2011 edition of “TCM Remembers,” Paris-born Annie Girardot was seen in nearly 120 titles over the course of nearly six decades.
During that time, Girardot collaborated with some of the biggest names in French and Italian cinema, including Marcel Carné (Three Rooms in Manhattan, 1966, which earned her the Best Actress award at the Venice Film Festival), Claude Lelouch (Live for Life, 1967, which earned her the Best Actress award at the Mar del Plata Film Festival), and Luchino Visconti (Rocco and His Brothers, 1960, which earned her a British Academy Award nomination).
Also, Jean Delannoy (Inspector Maigret, 1958), Roger Vadim (Vice and Virtue, 1963), Mario Monicelli (The Organizer, 1963), Sergio Corbucci (The Shortest Day, 1963), and Marco Ferreri (The Ape Woman, 1964; Dillinger Is Dead, 1969).
In recent years, Annie Girardot had memorable supporting roles in a couple of disturbing Michael Haneke dramas: as Isabelle Huppert’s abusive, unbalanced mother in The Piano Teacher (2001), which earned her a Best Supporting Actress Prix César, and as Daniel Auteuil’s mother in Caché / Hidden (2005).
Another French star seen in “TCM Remembers” is French Indochina-born Marie-France Pisier, who was featured in 60 movies from 1961 to 2010.
Her more distinguished efforts include Luis Buñuel’s subversive comedy of mores and manners, The Phantom of Liberty (1974), in which Pisier is seen at a social gathering, with her dress pulled up as she sits on the toilet along with the other guests; Jacques Rivette’s Celine and Julie Go Boating (1974); Jean-Charles Tacchella’s international hit Cousin Cousine (1976); François Truffaut’s Love on the Run (1979); and George Kaczender’s Chanel Solitaire (1981), as Coco Chanel.
Although never a Hollywood star, Marie-France Pisier has one huge U.S.-made hit to her credit: the trashy soap opera The Other Side of Midnight (1977), directed by another 2011 departed, Charles Jarrott, and in which Pisier gamely delivers – with a straight face – some of the most inane lines in movie history.
One more non-Hollywood talent not forgotten by “TCM Remembers”: Australian-born actress Diane Cilento, who became a British cinema leading lady in the mid-1950s (The Passing Stranger, The Admirable Crichton).
Her international career took off in the following decade, with important roles in Tony Richardson’s Tom Jones (1963), which earned her a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination; Carol Reed’s period drama The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965), opposite Charlton Heston as Michelangelo and Rex Harrison as Pope Julius II; and Martin Ritt’s Western Hombre (1967), in which she’s outstanding as one of Paul Newman’s fellow stagecoach passengers.
Cilento was equally effective as a childless woman coveting Geraldine Chaplin’s baby in Michael Campus’ dystopian drama Z.P.G. / Zero Population Growth (1972).
Actor Sean Connery (1962–1973) and playwright Anthony Shaffer (1985–2001) were two of her three husbands.
“TCM Remembers” honoree Googie Withers was another Australian (but Karachi-born) actress in mostly British films. She began working in front of the camera in the mid-1930s, usually in supporting roles in low-budget fare like Michael Powell’s The Girl in the Crowd (1935), in which she was hired as an extra before being promoted to second lead, and Alfred Zeisler’s Crime Over London (1936).
Googie Withers became a well-regarded name in the 1940s, perhaps most memorably:
- As a Dutch resistance fighter in Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s One of Our Aircraft Is Missing (1942).
- As the charming, British-accented American pickle heiress infatuated with stiff-upper-lipped Clive Brook in the actor-director-screenwriter-producer’s 1944 film version of Frederick Lonsdale’s comedy of manners On Approval.
- As Ralph Michael’s wife in the Basil Dearden- and Robert Hamer-directed segments (the framing sequence & “The Haunted Mirror”) of the omnibus horror drama Dead of Night (1945).
- As the now-married – and embittered – former lover of an escaped convict (Brisbane-born John McCallum) seeking refuge at her family home in Robert Hamer’s box office hit It Always Rains on Sunday (1947).
Googie Withers and John McCallum were married in 1948. Eleven years later, the couple moved back to Australia, where they continued working on stage and television. Their marriage lasted until McCallum’s death at age 91 in 2010.
Although never a top box office draw, London-born, “TCM Remembers” actress Susannah York was seen in three of the most renowned English-language cinema productions of the 1960s.
- In Tony Richardson’s Best Picture Academy Award winner Tom Jones (1963), she’s one of the (more voluptuous) women in Albert Finney’s life.
- In Fred Zinnemann’s Best Picture Academy Award winner A Man for All Seasons (1966), she’s the daughter of Paul Scofield’s principled (or obstinate, depending on your take) Thomas More.
- In Sydney Pollack’s They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1969), starring Jane Fonda and Michael Sarrazin (see below), she’s a Depression Era marathon dancer who goes totally berserk – ultimately earning a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for her on-camera nervous breakdown.
Susannah York’s other film credits include John Huston’s Freud (1962), cast as a sexually repressed, daddy-fixated patient; Daryl Duke’s gripping thriller The Silent Partner (1978), as Elliott Gould’s bank colleague and romantic interest; and Richard Donner’s Superman (1978), as the title character’s biological mother, Lara.
Quebec City-born Michael Sarrazin seemed poised to become a major Hollywood name after costarring with Jane Fonda in They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?. Yet he never quite fulfilled his potential, spending most of his film career stuck in little-seen, largely forgotten fare.
Among the few noteworthy Sarrazin efforts are:
- Robert Mulligan’s curious romantic drama The Pursuit of Happiness (1970), with Sarrazin as a prison escapee and Barbara Hershey as his romantic aider and abetter.
- Paul Newman’s labor relations/family drama Sometimes a Great Notion (1971), with Sarrazin, Newman, Henry Fonda, Lee Remick, Richard Jaeckel, and Linda Lawson as members of an Oregon logging clan during times of labor strife.
- Stuart Haggman’s well-intentioned, cliché-ridden drug addiction tale Believe in Me (1971), with Sarrazin as a hospital intern who turns to hardcore drugs and Jacqueline Bisset as his girlfriend.
- The somewhat humorous neo-screwball comedy For Pete’s Sake (1974), directed by fellow 2011 departed Peter Yates and starring Barbra Streisand.
Things might have turned out differently had Sarrazin gotten to play Joe Buck in John Schlesinger’s Midnight Cowboy (1969). The coveted role, however, went to eventual Best Actor Oscar nominee Jon Voight.
‘Sex film’ actresses Lena Nyman & Maria Schneider
“TCM Remembers” features two actresses closely associated with cinematic succès de scandale: Lena Nyman and Maria Schneider, who died a day apart in early February.
Lena Nyman was the star of Vilgot Sjöman’s Swedish drama I Am Curious (Yellow) (1967), labeled pornography by American authorities – thus guaranteeing enormous box office returns when the film was finally released on U.S. shores.
Like fellow 2011 departed Mary Murphy, Maria Schneider was Marlon Brando’s leading woman in a controversial drama. But that’s where the similarities between Murphy and Schneider – and between The Wild One (1953) and Bernardo Bertolucci’s psychological drama Last Tango in Paris (1972) – end.
Schneider’s biological father – she was raised by her mother – was actor Daniel Gélin (La Ronde, Edward and Caroline). He died at age 81 in 2002.
See also: Last Tango in Paris infamous & phony “butter scene.”
“TCM Remembers: From Farley Granger & Annie Girardot to Notorious ‘Sex Film’ Actresses” follow-up post: “More honorees: TCM remembers Tura Satana & Cliff Robertson + Child Actors & the Two Russells.”
Turner Classic Movies website.
“TCM Remembers 2011” video homage: Turner Classic Movies.
Image of “TCM Remembers” honoree Farley Granger via www.mynewplaidpants.com.
Image of “TCM Remembers” honoree Annie Girardot in Rocco and His Brothers: Titanus / Les Films Marceau.
Image of Francis L. Sullivan and “TCM Remembers” honoree Googie Withers in Night and the City: 20th Century Fox.
“TCM Remembers: Farley Granger & Annie Girardot + Googie Withers & ‘Sex Stars’” last updated in December 2018.