The Country Girl


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Current Rating 9.33/10 | 6 Votes

     In this 1954, two of Hollywood's greatest stars give what might be their best performances. Bing Crosby plays a pathological liar alcoholic whose second chance at fame on Broadway is too much for him to take. Grace Kelly plays his long-suffering wife, who has helped him through ten years of failure and emotional abuse. William Holden rounds out the starring cast as a hotshot director who seems abnormally determined to give Crosby a second chance. His single-minded devotion to the idea of proving the rest of the New York theater crowd wrong inadvertently leads to the major conflict of the film, the tensions among the three leads.

Crosby plays Frank Elgin, who had several hit musicals and pop songs a decade earlier, but his heavy drinking quickly led to his virtual blacklisting by the New York theater world. He is reduced to singing jingles on the radio. Bernie Dodd, a young director (although Holden never could pull off looking young), decides to force Elgin on his producers, who are wary that the older man's drinking will hurt their investment. Along for the ride is Georgie Elgin, Frank's wife. Frank tells Bernie that his problems are mostly because of his having to take care of Georgie: she was the alcoholic first, she needed to be involved in every step of the process, she alienated directors and costars with her meddling. Bernie believes Frank, and is willing to make excuses for his idol until Frank goes on a bender after some bad reviews in a Boston opening. Frank blames Georgie, and the ill will between Georgie and Bernie builds into a shouting match where the truth behind Frank's stories comes out. There is an unbelievable development at this point that I won't disclose; it stinks of a plot contrivance, and I really think the film would have been better without what appears to be an artificial attempt to introduce some more conflict. Things work out in the end, though, as they had to in 1950s films.

Grace Kelly was practically unrecognizable, and was completely believable as the harried wife of Bing Crosby's alcoholic actor. It is a testament to her skill as an actress that the most glamorous woman in Hollywood could pull off playing this thirty-something, weary, and suspicious plain Jane. This was among her last films; a year later, she headed off to become Princess Grace of Monaco. She won Best Actress, Seaton won Best Screenplay, and the film was nominated for several others, including Best Picture, Director, and Actor (Crosby).

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