THE COUNTRY GIRL (1954) B/W 104m dir: George Seaton
w/Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, William Holden, Anthony Ross, Gene Reynolds, Jacqueline Fontaine, Eddie Ryder, Robert Kent, John W. Reynolds, Frank Scannell
The acting is the draw in this Clifford Odets drama about an alcoholic entertainer (Crosby), wallowing in self-pity, who has a chance to make a comeback. Crosby is interesting in this change-of-pace dark drama. Kelly won an Oscar as Best Actress, which many think was more deserved by the also-nominated Judy Garland, giving the performance of her career in A STAR IS BORN.
From The Movie Guide: "Early examination of co-dependency in alcoholic marriages. Adequate in a vague sort of way, which is our way of breaking the news that it's been overrated for a long time. Crosby is a supposedly down-at-the-heels entertainer, trying to keep his comeback up and his drinking down. Although the dapper Crosby doesn't seem desperate enough, his sober, genial side works to capture the doormat side of the active alcoholic. And given the dark side of Crosby that has been documented by now, we're willing to say he's worth a look; there had to be a lot of fury and tears to sustain a career built on being easy-going.
"Kelly, despite the sensible shoes and lack of make-up, is still just too lovely and too reserved to play the gritty wife whose neurotic dependence on her souse husband is as strong as his is on her. She lacks the ability to suggest the complicated levels of a very complicated relationship, and she's totally lacking in passion besides. Odets's character is much more poignant cast against beauty, making her looks almost a dream in the alcoholic's mind. We can imagine maybe a Dorothy Malone, an Eleanor Parker or a Vera Miles pulling it off; we'd be more inclined to say Shelley Winters, Barbara Bel Geddes, or Kim Stanley. But not Princess Grace.
"COUNTRY GIRL has a nice backstage feel and Holden gives a strong performance as does Anthony Ross, but the film is directed unevenly by Seaton, as if he thought the material was strong enough to do the work by itself."
Besides Kelly's Oscar, the film also won Best Screenplay (Seaton), and it was also nominated for Best Picture, Director, Actor (Crosby), Cinematography (John F. Warren), and Art Direction (Hal Pereira, Roland Anderson, Sam Comer, Grace Gregory).