Monday, August 9, 2010
R.I.P. Patricia Neal
Patricia Neal was never a huge Hollywood Starlet, just one of the better actresses of her generation. Neal had a commanding voice with a no nonsense face that lead to her playing strong women who were in control. She had a long career (1949-2009) with some serious health issues that hindered her from having a great second half of a career. Neal also had a successful TV career, but I want to concentrate on a couple of classic films that everyone should see. The Fountainhead(1949) with Gary Cooper was her first film, and she holds her own with Coop. Based on the famous Ayn Rand book, it is a enjoyable film that lead to a torrid affair between her and Cooper. In The Day The Earth Stood Still(1951) Neal plays a mother who finds out her house guest is a alien. One of the greatest Sci Fi films of all time, Neal is easily the best actor in the film. A Face In The Crowd(1957) she gives a flawless performance as a radio reporter who discovers drunk Lonesome Rhodes(Andy Griffith's best role) and turns him into a Superstar. This film is a must see and works better today then it did in '57. This is Andy Griffith's film, but Neal is the most human element in the movie and she is who you connect with. Patricia Neal's best performance and one of my favorite films of all time is Hud(1963). In a film where legends like Melvyn Douglas and Paul Newman give one of their best performances, she still stands out. Neal was so prominent in this film she won a Best Actress Oscar for a supporting role. As a viewer you fall in love with her, and eventually these affections cause you to turn on Hud, then forgive him as she does. A couple of years after Hud she had three strokes at the age of forty,and had to learn how to walk and talk again. This set back forced her to turn down roles that could have made her more well known today. The most noteable was the role as Mrs. Robinson from The Graduate (1967). Patricia Neal died of lung cancer at the age of 84.