30 August 2007 | Emaisie39
Garson and Pidgeon sparkle in high comedy change of pace
Greer Garson had a charmed film career. She was discovered on the English stage by Louis B. Mayer when she was 33. Her MGM career stalled until she was cast opposite Robert Donat in the classic "Goodbye Mr. Chips"(1939) which made her an immediate major star and a worthy successor to fading MGM superstars Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford and Garbo. Her lovely, charismatic performance in this film brought her the first of seven Best Actress Oscar nominations. Truth be told her role was too small for such a nomination and Shearer's and Crawford's superb work in "The Women"(1939) should have gotten the nominations. Garson's next film was the disastrous "Remember"(1939) a glossy flat so-called comedy that had her much too prim and proper. But after Shearer unwisely passed on "Pride and Prejudice"(1940) Garson was cast in the central role and received raves from everyone. In retrospect she seems too old for this and the more youthful-looking classy Shearer would have been much better but this film made Garson an enormous star which she remained until a string of entertaining disasters in the early 50's. Of course Garson would win her Oscar for the excellent blockbuster "Mrs.Miniver (1942) -another dumb Shearer turn-down- and Garson would now be typecast in generally too noble and ladylike roles. Nonetheless Garson gave a sparkling performance opposite Crawford in the forgotten "When Ladies Meet"(1941) and gave marvelous natural performances in the hugely popular yet maligned "Adventure"(1946) and superb in the disastrous "Desire Me"(1947). The comedy "Julia Misbehaves" came right after and proved a tremendous hit on both sides of the Atlantic. Though superficially "the lady" once again this role allows Greer to be the comedienne and she succeeds splendidly. The sparkling script and direction, the MGM gloss, her great chemistry with Pidgeon, and the beautiful young co-stars Elizabeth Taylor and Peter Lawford add to the non-stop fun. She plays a wayward showgirl who wants to be part of her daughter's wedding even though she has not been around for years. It's the kind of light hearted romp that Hollywood tries to do now in days with Sandra Bullock, Meg Ryan, Reese Witherspoon and surprisingly Diane Keaton. Of course these recent films rarely work as well as the delightful "Julia Misbehaves." After this Garson returned to the lady roles and had her last big hit with the stodgy technicolored "That Forsythe Woman"(1949). Most of the films that followed were failures except for her outstanding work in "Julius Caesar"(MGM,1953) and Oscar-nominated as Eleanor Roosevelt in "Sunrise at Campobello"(Warner Brothers, 1960).