Friday, January 14, 2011

Greer Garson in Blossoms in the Dust

Greer Garson received her second Oscar nomination for playing Edna Gladney, who opens a home for orphan and illegitimate children in Blossoms in the Dust. The Academy loved Greer Garson. Basically, she was the Meryl Streep of the forties. She received five consecutive nominations and a win for the title role of Mrs. Miniver. I doubt it, though that she had much of a chance of winning in 1941. I'm not really sure as (just like I said), they loved Greer. Wow, years were so open when there were not other award (except for NYFCC).

Blossoms in the Dust is movie that is almost impossible to find. If it wasn't for a saint called kkiimmiissiipp, I would still search for it. And I actually enjoyed it. Of coure, it's really sentimental and corny, but it was also very entertaining and loveable. It's a typical 40s movie, which is not my cup of tea, but there were certain things I really liked about it. This was the first of the eight movies that featured both Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon, who really doesn't have much of a role in this one. He's there until the middle and we don't see more of him. Blossoms in the Dust is the story of Edna and the movie of Greer.

Greer Garson is a really interesting actress. On the one hand, she's a typical 40s actress starring in sentimental melodramas. On the other hand, there's something about her personality, which doesn't let you take your eyes off her. Although nowadays she seems to be quite forgotten, I actually visited a fansite of hers, where there were poems about her. And I can understand this, since she has such a unique and heartwarming on-screen presence. I wouldn't say though, that she was very versatile: she kept on playing the same characters for an entire decade, the strong, but loving mother and wife.

I couldn't really imagine anyone else playing the role of Edna this effectively. It's a very standard role in a standard movie. There's not much to say about her. She's a woman, who's life is turned upside down because of the death of her own child and her childhood friend, and despite these difficulites she remains strong and unbeatable.

My first real problem is that Edna is never really developed in this movie. I mean there are small, interesting things about her, but the melodrama of the screenplay really keeps us from really knowing her. The effect of one scene is more important than the overall achievement and therefore, it is never really impressive. And Greer suffers from this, too. At the beginning of it, I was certainly very charmed by her effective and radiant presence, but later on, I felt that it was not enough for me. First of all, everything is really unbelievable. I understand that after the death of her son, she wants to party in order to forget her grief and in the next scene she's taking care of children. Everything is really rushed (it's mostly the screenplay's fault), though Greer really tried to make everything believable.

However, I must say that I was truly captivated by Greer Garson's very natural and subtle acting in soem of the scenes: she has a great chemistry with Walter Pidgeon, and I felt that this was really a match made in Heaven. Also, she's brilliant with the kids. Although Edna cannot be a mother again, she loves and cares about. Edna is a loveable and sympathetic character, one that you could root for. Greer delivers the huge, theatrical monologues excellently. They are very emotional, and thanks to Greer, not that sentimental.

Edna becomes extremely close to one kid, whom she considers her son and it's such a moving scene where she says goodbye to him when she has to give him away. Greer was able to do it with such ease and warmth, that it never became too sentimental. And I salute her for that, because this was a real challenge solved excellently by Greer.

After all, I can say that this is a beautiful performance, which might a bit weak and rushed at times, but it's often very moving. Although it's quite forgotten nowadays, I think it shouldn't be, since it is one of the most lovely performances of a great talent. Although it may not be flawless, I still liked it a lot.

What do you think?

The next entry is timed for Sunday, but I won't be available then. The post will be automatically posted.