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| THE LITTLE FOXES | MRS. MINIVER | SHADOW OF A DOUBT
| THE PRIDE OF THE YANKEES |
THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES
From supporting actress and leading lady, Wright's career continued its
meteoric rise in 1943 when she earned above-the-title star billing for her
role as Young Charlie Newton in
Hitchcock's thriller (and his personal favorite of his films)
SHADOW OF A DOUBT. Wright's tormented portrayal of a small-town girl
who discovers the truth about her Uncle Charlie (Joseph
Cotten, at left) but is forced to hide it from her family while struggling
to ensure her own survival is one of her best performances.
Furthermore, though sometimes overshadowed by his more stylized films of the
1950s, in addition to being
Alfred Hitchcock's favorite,
SHADOW OF A DOUBT is also one of the director's best films. Oddly
enough, very worthy performances by Wright,
Cotten and Patricia Collinge
(who plays Wright's mother) were all overlooked for Academy Award nominations,
and only the film's original story by Gordon McDonnell was recognized.
One of Wright's most appealing qualities as an actress is
her ability to react, and inherent in those reactions are the facial
expressions with which she adds depth and personality to her performances.
Above, two very different reactions to her Uncle Charlie: first, excitement
when Mrs. Henderson at the telegraph office informs her that he is coming to
visit just as she was about to send him a telegram; and later, hate as she
recovers from a near-fatal carbon monoxide accident and looks up to find him
kneeling over her.
- "I know how comfortable it is to curl up with a nice fat book full of
big words and think you're going to solve all the problems of the
universe. But you're not, you know. A bit of action is required now and
then." --as Carol Beldon in
MRS. MINIVER (1942).
- "Is this a time to lose ones sense of humor?" --as Carol Beldon in
MRS. MINIVER (1942).
- "Tanglefoot!" --as Eleanor Twitchell Gehrig in
THE PRIDE OF THE YANKEES (1943).
- "I'm going to break that marriage up!" --as Peggy Stevenson in
THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES (1946).
- "I'm obviously the kind of girl who takes these things too seriously."
--as Peggy Stevenson in THE
BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES (1946).
In 1944, Wright was re-teamed with her
YANKEES co-star Gary Cooper and director
Sam Wood for CASANOVA BROWN, a romantic comedy about a recently-divorced
couple who discover they are going to have a child. Based on a play
called "The Little Accident" (co-written by
Thomas Mitchell) the film was nominated for three Academy Awards.
Although Wright received co-star billing in this film,
Cooper and his antics as an inexperienced father get the most screen time,
and little of the comic responsibility falls on Wright's shoulders. For
her part, she sheds a few tears but is favored with frequent close-ups by
veteran cinematographer John Seitz, and of all her films, Wright is perhaps
her most simply beautiful in CASANOVA BROWN, leaving the audience to wonder
why we don't get to see more of her. Despite that disappointment however
(and a few moments in which the humor falls flat), the film makes a pleasant,
if unspectacular, little romantic comedy, further enlivened by supporting
players Patricia Collinge
and Frank Morgan.
After a brief hiatus from the big screen, Wright made a triumphant return in
another of my all-time favorite movies and one of the greatest films ever
made, the Best Picture of 1946,
THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES, directed by
William Wyler (their third and final film together) and also starring
Fredric March, Myrna Loy,
Dana Andrews, Virginia Mayo,
Cathy O'Donnell and
In the still at right, Wright comforts returning veteran
Dana Andrews after a nightmare about the war -- one of the most poignant
and moving scenes in BEST YEARS.
In another of the film's great moments, the final scene, Wright again proves
her talent for expressive reaction when, without a word, she conveys all of
Peggy Stephenson's emotions using just her eyes and the expression on her
Film critic James Agee even singled out Wright's performance as particularly
noteworthy in his review of THE
BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES for The Nation (December 28, 1946): "I
cannot ... resist speaking briefly ... of Teresa Wright. Like Frances
Dee, she has always been one of the very few women in movies who really had a
face. Like Miss Dee, she has also always used this translucent face with
delicate and exciting talent as an actress, and with something of a novelist's
perceptiveness behind the talent. And like Miss Dee, she has never been
around nearly enough. This new performance of hers, entirely lacking in
big scenes, tricks, or obstreperousness -- one can hardly think of it as
acting -- seems to me one of the wisest and most beautiful pieces of work I
have seen in years. If the picture had none of the hundreds of other
things it has to recommend it, I could watch it a dozen times over for that
personality and its mastery alone."
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