To celebrate women in film – on camera and behind it – Dell on Movies is back with Girl Week 2021, running 22-28 November.
There are no set rules. Dell says: “You can join the fun by posting or talking about films with females in the lead, directed by women, or feature women in some other prominent role.”
For this post I’m putting the spotlight on one of the Golden Age of Hollywood’s most beloved icons, a star of the silver screen who became a princess: Grace Kelly.
Kelly was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1929 and from a young age knew she wanted to be an actress; her uncle, George Kelly, was a Pulitzer Prize-winning dramatist, screenwriter, and director.
After successfully obtaining a place at American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, she landed modelling work and made her Broadway debut in August Strindberg’s The Father.
Kelly’s first film was a minor role in Henry Hathaway’s Fourteen Hours (1951). Her breakthrough roles came in Fred Zinnemann’s High Noon (1952) and John Ford’s Mogambo (1953), the latter securing her a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress and an Academy Award nomination.
During her short-lived career – she retired from acting at age 26 to marry Rainier III and begin her duties as Princess of Monaco – Kelly appeared in just 11 films. In the five years between her first film’s release and her last (High Society, 1956) she made quite an impact.
Essential Grace Kelly
Rear Window (1954)
Kelly stars opposite James Stewart in Alfred Hitchcock’s classic thriller about a photographer (Jeff) who starts tracking the movement’s of his neighbours while recuperating at home following an injury.
From the moment Rear Window started I was invested. One of the joys of Rear Window is that it takes a mundane activity (looking outside your window) and elevates it, indulging our curiosity by presenting us with a comprehensive cast of characters in Jeff’s neighbours, ranging from a professional pianist to the lonely-hearted singleton who always lays the table for one.
Kelly plays Jeff’s socialite girlfriend, Lisa, but she is far more than just a pretty face: she listens to Jeff’s musings and theories before ‘being his legs’ to investigate further while he is confined.
To Catch a Thief (1955)
The third and final pairing of Kelly and Hitchcock – she also starred in Dial M for Murder (1954) – saw Kelly prove to be more than a match for Cary Grant’s John Robie, a retired cat burglar, accused of a string of thefts against wealthy tourists.
While the film is more style over substance, the style is very impressive. Visually it is a gorgeous film thanks to its French Riviera setting, sharp cinematography and beautiful costumes. Kelly’s wardrobe is exquisite, ranging from full length gowns to very chic swimwear.
Grant is equally stylish, choosing his own wardrobe and wearing pieces he would normally wear himself. If you’re interested in To Catch a Thief‘s fashion, take a look at this article on Classiq.
Tragically, Kelly’s life was cut short aged just 52 in 1982 after being involved in a car crash in Monte Carlo. She was survived by her husband and their three children, Caroline, Albert and Stéphanie, and Rainier established the Princess Grace Foundation-USA in her honour to support up-and-coming American artists.