Saturday, August 14, 2010

Ms. Patricia

Didn't Patricia Neal do some kind of coffee commercials, back in the 1960's or something? I'm fairly sure she did. Maybe it wasn't coffee. I remember Madge 'you're soaking in it' Manicurist hawking dishwashing liquid. And I recall friendly Mrs. Olson showing up at folks' homes with a bag of grocery and Folger's coffee.

And there was Cora too, played by Margaret Hamilton, former OZ witch and allergic to water, but not coffee apparently. Maxwell House maybe?

Was also a 1960's coffee commercial where a woman privately wondered, "Hmmm. Jim never asks for a second cup of coffee at home." This was back in the era where wives stayed darn near deranged every waking moment, worrying how they could better serve their man. Little known fact? That's why Valium was invented.

I'm sure no expert on the 1960's really. I was mostly a little jug eared kid. Only thing I know for sure about the era? Was I on that island, my agenda would've been clear:
1. Kill Gilligan
B. Fix that hole in the boat

Uhm, what was I gonna type about? Oh yeah! Patricia Neal! One of the greatest actresses of Hollywood's golden era passed this week. I won't dwell on her personal life. She was an artist, and female screen artists rarely get treated appropriately.

Look here? You think Kate Hepburn was a great actress? PISH! Kate played two roles; funny Hepburn and serious Hepburn. Her entire career she played Kate. Patricia Neal was a great actress. Also Barbara Stanwyck. I could name some other women, but you wouldn't know who I was talking about.

My favorite Neal performance will always be "In Harm's Way." Back off you Cinemaniacs! Yep, Patricia was wonderful in "Day the Earth Stood Still" and "Fountainhead" and "Hud." Also great in "Face in the Crowd."

In her pairing with John Wayne for Preminger's "In Harm's Way" we get a great performance in a history hinge movie.

That film puts Wayne with a woman who's his equal in toughness. Quite a departure. Relationship between those two middle aged lovers is most interesting thing in the film. It's actually very 2010, the way those two fumble at each other, the pragmatism mingled with desire and past baggage.

I don't know of a movie where Patricia Neal didn't play a strong woman. That's very odd for the era. Lots of strong women characters, but they always come to ruin. Girls who don't worry why Jim doesn't ask for second cup of coffee at home? Well, they are asking for Karma.

Patricia Neal always played strong women. Maybe because she was a strong woman, and wouldn't take subservient roles. She was a great actress.