Film Studies For Free today celebrates the career of the great British actress Jean Simmons who sadly died yesterday at the age of 80 (the BBC's excellent obituary is here; David Hudson's memorial posting is here).
After standing out in such early roles as the young Estella in David Lean's version of Great Expectations (1946), Kanchi in Black Narcissus (1947), and Ophelia in Laurence Olivier's Hamlet (1948), she successfully made the move to Hollywood and acted in some of the most brilliant films of the next decade, including Angel Face (1952), directed by Otto Preminger, The Actress (1953), The Robe (1953), The Egyptian (1954), Guys and Dolls (1955), The Big Country (1958), Elmer Gantry (1960), (directed by her second husband, Richard Brooks), and Stanley Kubrick's Spartacus (1960). She continued to appear in interesting film roles until just a few years ago, including her brilliantly voicing of Grandma Sophie in the anglophone version of Howl's Moving Castle (Hauru no ugoku shiro) (Hayao Miyazaki, 2004).
Below, in memory of this supremely talented and highly versatile actress, FSFF has embedded the film trailer heralding one of her greatest performances: Sister Sharon Falconer in Richard Brooks's Elmer Gantry, alongside Burt Lancaster in the title role. And below the video are FSFF's customary links to online and freely accessible scholarly and critical studies of some of the many films she starred in across her career.
- Robert Cross, 'Black Narcissus: A Post-colonial Empire Film?', Doshisha Studies in Language and Culture, 9(4), 2007: 593 – 611
- Robert Cross, 'Jean Renoir’s cinematic adaptation of Rumer Godden’s The River', Doshisha Studies in Language and Culture, 10(4), 2008: 575 – 596
- Kelly Davidson and John Hill, '‘Under control’?: Black Narcissus and the Imagining of India', Film Studies, Issue 6, Summer 2005
- Anton Karl Kozlovic, 'Sacred Servants in the Popular Cinema: Research Notes Towards a Taxonomic Survey of the Mundane Holy', Journal of Mundane Behavior, V3n2, 2002
- Kendra Preston Leonard, 'Silencing Ophelia: Male Aurality as a Controlling Element in Olivier's Hamlet', Scope, Issue 14, June 2009