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THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES
After an absence of over a decade, Wright returned to the big screen in 1969
with appearances in two dramas, HAIL, HERO! and THE HAPPY ENDING, both of
which portray the "generational disconnect" between parents and their grown
children. And while the issues addressed by these two films were topical
in their day, it is a little hard to figure out why Wright chose these roles
as her returning vehicles.
In THE HAPPY ENDING (1969), she has little to do but look confused as her
grown daughter Jean Simmons
(with Wright above) declines into alcoholism and walks out on her fifteen-year
HAIL, HERO! (1969) features Wright and Arthur Kennedy as parents of Michael
Douglas (in his film debut), a well-educated hippie who, though struggling
with his feelings about the Vietnam War, comes home to tell his conservative
family that he has just enlisted. As his mother, Wright is oblivious to
his personal troubles (as is the rest of the family), and though certain
facets of her character are interesting as drawn, she again, doesn't really
have much to do (except scream at the sight of a mummified baby). HAIL, HERO!
suffers from a screenplay that was either half-baked or, conversely, too
deeply contemplated. But most disappointing is the fact that in the rare
instances when Wright does have something to do, the subtleties of her
performance are destroyed by the filmmaker's insistence on actually showing
what she is trying to imply.
Still More Memorable Quotations:
- "I must remember to fix those..." --as Annie Jones in THE ACTRESS
- "I suppose it's no use asking you because you know all about
everything, but for the last time before I turn out this light, would you
just, for all our sakes, please consider being normal?" --as Annie Jones
in THE ACTRESS (1953).
- "Holy! Holy! Holy!" --as Grace Bridges in TRACK OF THE CAT (1954).
- "American men expect a certain amount of makeup on their women.
We must please a young man first. Afterward we can break him in...
It's not dishonest -- just tactical." --as Sister Mary Winifred in Four
Star Playhouse's "The Good Sister" (1955 TV).
- "What makes you such a pig-headed little jackass? Don't you know
I'm a pig-headed big jackass? You don't stand a chance." --as Annie
Sullivan in Playhouse 90's "The Miracle Worker" (1957 TV).
- "If God didn't mean you to have eyes, I do." --as Annie Sullivan in
Playhouse 90's "The Miracle Worker" (1957 TV).
- "He was a wonderful, sensitive man, and he played the trumpet
beautifully." --as Elizabeth Grant in THE RESTLESS YEARS (1958).
After her brief return to moviemaking in 1969, it would be almost another
decade before Wright appeared on the big screen yet again. Produced by
Merchant-Ivory, ROSELAND (1977) is a three-part story about New York
City's Roseland Ballroom and the nostalgic, aging people who congregate
Wright plays "Mirror May," a widow who comes to the ballroom to waltz (with
Lou Jacobi above) and reminisce about her late husband Eddie. Though she
only appears in the first twenty minutes of the film, of the three, her
vignette is by far the most compelling, thanks in no small part to Wright's
performance -- desperately painful, but touched with a innocent, childlike
quality reminiscent of some of her earliest film roles.
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