Gee whiz, Greer Garson day on TCM and no Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939), Pride and Prejudice (1940), Mrs. Miniver (1942), Madame Curie (1943), Mrs. Parkington (1944), or Julia Misbehaves (1948). What gives? Well, the last four were just shown back on August 19 as part of Walter Pidgeon's day on Summer Under the Stars, P&P and Chips are certainly shown often enough (though Chips especially is kind of an important entry to the Garson filmography!), and at least we have Random Harvest.*
*The entire September 29 TCM schedule of Garson movies is included near the bottom of this post.
I'll be looking forward to That Forsyte Woman, not as much because it's one of only a couple of Garson-Pidgeon pairings I've yet to see, but because of Garson's seemingly unlikely co-star, Errol Flynn, swapped out to MGM from Warner Brothers for this one.
It had been several months since I'd read Michael Troyan's excellent A Rose for Mrs. Miniver: The Life of Greer Garson, so curiosity got the best of me tonight and I pulled it from my shelf and to go searching for Flynn in the index. Troyan words what I was wondering better than I could have when he writes that "the MGM publicists were primed for the confrontation between Don Juan and Mrs. Miniver" (218). That's pretty much exactly the clash I had in mind when I went looking for info!
After all, Greer Garson's screen legacy is one of culture, class, a certain sweetness which seems all the more enhanced to this American boy through her gorgeous British accent. And Flynn, well, I love him, but, uh, there's not much in my Garson perception which jibes with how I think of him!
Troyan quotes Flynn's memories of their initial encounter from his autobiography, My Wicked Wicked Ways (which I would have done for myself if I could find my copy!), where he recalls that he "primed himself with about three vodkas" before being introduced. Coming face to face with MGM's reigning Queen, Flynn writes, "I adopted an air of bravado, the hearty Australian from the outback. I shook hands heartily, then I slapped her on the fanny. 'Hi yuh, Red!' I said. Everybody froze. There was a brief pause. Then she went into a torrent of laughter. That broke the ice."
Garson herself in a 1980's interview recalled that they found they actually had a lot in common. Troyan wrote that "Their sense of fun, completely at odds with the humorless characters they were playing before the camera, would make the shooting of That Forsyte Woman a pure delight" (218).
The New York Times period review savages That Forsyte Woman, adapted from Galsworthy's Forsyte Saga, noting that many Hollywood actresses craved the role, but that "to be quite blunt about it, Miss Garson and M-G-M have done just about as cruelly by her as anyone could possibly do." Then somewhat exonerating Garson: "The fault is not wholly Miss Garson's. She puts on the glamor act, yes, but the script is a lot of lifeless rhetoric and the direction by Compton Bennett is absurd." A more contemporary write-up likely nails why the film isn't better remembered today as Leonard Maltin in his Classic Movie Guide finds That Forsyte Woman "rather superficial" and explains that it's "no match for the later BBC-TV series The Forsyte Saga" (563).
Despite the poor reviews I'll either be watching or recording, even more curious than I was before picking up Troyan's Garson biography just before I wrote this. Will the Garson-Flynn off-screen camaraderie shine through and make it more worthwhile than I'm led to expect? I'll see. How 'bout you? Let me know below.
Greer Garson TCM Birthday Schedule
September 29, 2010 - All times EST
- 6:30 am Blossoms in the Dust (1941) starring Greer Garson, Walter Pidgeon, Felix Bressart
- 8:15 am Random Harvest (1942) starring Ronald Colman, Greer Garson, Philip Dorn
- 10:30 am The Youngest Profession (1943) starring Virginia Weidler, Edward Arnold, John Carroll
- 12:00 pm Adventure (1945) starring Clark Gable, Greer Garson, Joan Blondell
- 2:15 pm Desire Me (1947) starring Greer Garson, Robert Mitchum, Richard Hart
- 4:00 pm That Forsyte Woman (1949) starring Errol Flynn, Greer Garson, Walter Pidgeon
- 6:00 pm The Singing Nun (1966) starring Debbie Reynolds, Ricardo Montalban, Greer Garson
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