CAROLE LOMBARD - My Favorite Actress

Friday, September 30, 2011

Darling Deborah Blogathon: Need a governess?..better call Deborah

Darling Deborah....Waitin on a Sunny Day

For my contribution to the Darling Deborah Blogathon, hosted by Sophie of Waitin on a Sunny Day, in honor of Deborah Kerr's birthday today, I decided to go with a specific topic. The topic being Deborah portraying a governess or nanny in her films. Of which, she did quite a few. The most notable being The King and I (1956), The Innocents (1961, and my fave of the three), and The Chalk Garden (1964). Each film had a different storyline for Ms. Kerr to deal with. And I think each governess job got more difficult with each passing one. Let's begin first with The King and I, shall we...
In The King and I, Deborah is cast as recently widowed Anna Leonowens, who accepts the job of governess to the King of Siam (Yul Brynner) in Bangkok. She will be teaching his children English. Of course things don't go smoothly between Anna and the king. Anna is very strong-willed and must learn to temper her outrage at the way women are treated during this time period. Eventually things between the two get better as the film progresses. I was very impressed with the performances by both stars. Brynner owns the role as the king of Siam without a doubt. Majestic, strong, smart, bold. And he is wonderfully matched by Kerr, who gives a radiant performance. I won't go into a full review, but let's just say The King and I is superb entertainment.
Next is The Innocents, my favorite of the three films I have chosen. In this film, Deborah plays Miss Giddens, a governess who is hired to care for recently orphaned brother and sister in Victorian England. And soon finds herself facing the spirits of the former governess and valet who are possessing the young children. This is one of the great classic ghost movies and Deborah gives one of her best performances ever. Because you don't know if she is just imagining things or is this really happening. Kerr is just amazing with this role. It's my favorite performance of hers and she should have received tons of awards for it. But alas she did not. The Innocents is a great thriller that doesn't rely on cheap thrills or gore but a good old fashioned ghost story that will have you on the edge of your seat.
And finally, The Chalk Garden. She plays the strangely named Miss Madrigal, who is hired by an eccentric and wealthy old woman (played by Edith Evans) to take care of her emotional grand-daughter Laurel (played by Hayley Mills). You would think after dealing with the many children of the King of Siam and the creepy events of The Innocents, taking care of one young girl would be no problem for Deborah. But Laurel is quite a handful. She is prone to mischief, lying, arson, and just all around trouble. Miss Madrigal has her work cut out for her and goes about her task with all the skill and grace she can command. Deborah is solid as usual with her performance here, as she could probably play a governess in her sleep. But she manages to bring new angles to this character for her third time around. As she has a secret of her own that Laurel is not expecting from another in the long line of nannies she has had to care for her. The Chalk Garden is a pretty good movie with excellent performances from the entire cast.
So that wraps up my piece on the wonderful Deborah Kerr. If you ever had need of a nanny or governess, she most definitely would fit the bill. No resume needed.


Dawn said...

Monty, Awesome review.. I did not know about the blogathon. Sorry I missed it.

My favorite of your picks is the film, The Innocents.

Irene Palfy said...

Will change the fact that I only know one of those films (of course THE KING AND I ...) as soon as possible!

Sophie said...

Great post! Thanks so much for participating in the blogathon :) I think Anna Leonowens will forever be my favourite of Deborah's governesses, but she really is the Queen of the governess characters! :)


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