Jennifer Jones Dies
Actress Jennifer Jones died today at 90 in Malibu, Calif. Sadly for this film lover, barely a soul in the newsroom heard of her.
Few actresses have launched their careers with more fanfare than Ms. Jones, who received a huge publicity buildup for her first major film, "The Song of Bernadette" (1943). She won the Academy Award playing a 19th-century French peasant girl who sees visions of the Virgin Mary in Lourdes and defies Catholic Church authorities who claim she is a fraud.
A saint in that film, she became a popular sinner in Hollywood melodramas including "Duel in the Sun" (1947) and "Love is a Many-Splendored Thing" (1955). For my money, her best work was as a servant girl with a zest for plumbing in Ernst Lubitsch's "Cluny Brown" (1946) and a world-class swindler in John Huston's "Beat the Devil" (1953) with Humphrey Bogart as a rival adventurer seeking uranium riches in Africa.
Writing of "Beat the Devil," a Time magazine critic wrote that Ms. Jones "managed to catch the mystic fervor of the truly creative liar."
By most accounts, Ms. Jones's career faltered under the guidance of producer David O. Selznick, her second husband and one of the most powerful moguls in Hollywood. He tried to transform her into what film scholar David Thomson mockingly called "the greatest actress in the world," while eliminating her quirky charms that first captivated audiences.
What are your memories of Ms. Jones?
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