One October day in Idaho a few years ago, the weather was bad, at least for that time of year; so I decided to stay inside. I hadn’t watched any daytime TV for quite a spell, so I turned on the television set to check out the old movies’ channel, and I struck gold. Two very good motion pictures starring two of my favorite actresses, Jennifer Jones and Ingrid Bergman were on the bill. They don’t make movies in Hollywood like those anymore. They were good wholesome heart-warming stories. No graphic scenes where someone’s brains were being splattered all over the wall, or cars being blown sixty feet into the air like so many of today’s cinemas.
The movies I’m referring to were “Portrait of Jenny” with Jennifer Jones and Joseph Cotton. The other was “Spellbound,” an Alfred Hitchcock movie starring Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck. The Portrait of Jenny featured a starving artist whose paintings were good, but lacked a certain quality; a quality pointed out to him by a spinster art dealer played by Ethyl Barrymore. She said his paintings lacked the element of love. She told him when he learned the art of instilling love into his paintings, he could be a great artist. Enters Jenny into the story. She provides the inspiration for that element of love.
Jenny was a ghost, but not your ordinary run of the mill ghost. She appeared as a mortal to Eban Adams, the artist. She first appeared as a young girl about twelve, or early teen. She would only stay for a few hours each time she visited him. Time was accelerated for Jenny and each time she came back she was a bit more grown up until she finally reached full maturity. All the while, without realizing it, they were falling in love with each other.
As it turns out, as near as I can figure, the purpose for Jenny’s coming back was to lend inspiration to Eban’s painting in order for him to fulfill his destiny as a painter. He painted a Portrait of Jenny, which embodied that quality of love that the spinster art dealer had told him his previous paintings lacked. I won’t say much more about this movie because I don’t want to spoil it for those readers who may like to rent it and watch it. It’s a very gripping movie. It’s like a good book you can’t put down.
Spellbound was equally as gripping, and contained the proverbial Hitchcock twist at the end. It was about a Dr. with amnesia who was haunted with the nightmare that he might have murdered someone. His career puts him in connection with a psychoanalyst played by Ingrid Bergman who decides to help him unravel this puzzle. The movie is filled with the usual Hitchcock suspense, and. the two main characters in this movie also fall in love. (What man in his right mind could help falling in love with Jennifer Jones or Ingrid Bergman?) 🙂
A point I want to make here about these two actresses is their ability to create pictures in the ‘theater of the mind,’ with nothing more than expressions on their faces. They were masters of their craft. They could say more with their expressions alone than most actors can say with fifty or sixty words. When Jennifer Jones’ character looks at a drawing of an old abandoned Lighthouse in the above mentioned movie, you the viewer, feel the fear and cynicism she is experiencing as she studies that drawing. She doesn’t say a word during the thirty seconds of that scene, but her expression unequivocally pulls you into her mood.
You know without a doubt there is something about that lighthouse she detests and fears. You find out what that is at the end of the movie. When she is with Eban you see the love she feels for him just from the expressions on her face. Words were unnecessary.
Ingrid Bergman had that same quality. It came through not as much in the movie Spellbound, but several times in the movie Casablanca, and most of her other movies. All one had to do was watch her face, and you felt her every emotion. This is a talent few actors or actresses possess to the degree of that of these two ladies. That is why these two will always be my favorite actresses. They could convey just about every known emotion with no more acting than the expressions on their faces.
Gary Cooper was blessed with that same quality also. That’s why he is my favorite actor, in addition to his being a man’s man. So, folks, in my opinion, they don’t make ‘em like they used to; movies, or actresses and actors.
If you’re into nostalgia, and enjoy going back in time for a brief respite from today’s harrowing world, look to the top right of my home page where you’ll see my book Buddy…His Trials and Treasures. Click the down load button to claim your free gift of the prologue and first three adventures. Join Buddy and cousin Mont in some of their escapades. It’s a book of tales about a young boy growing up in rural America during the 1940s. Buddy is not unlike Tom Sawyer in some aspects in that he quite often finds himself in hot water for which he must pay the consequences. Buddy’s mischief is without much forethought, however. It happens simply because he is…well…he’s just Buddy.