Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Birthday: Ann-Margret (born 1941)

Despite receiving a ton of nominations and awards over the years, Ann-Margret is insufficiently acknowledged as a fine actress; perhaps it is hard to budge your reputation after starring in movies like Kitten With a Whip and Viva Las Vegas. But she has done some excellent work, including a memorable Blanche DuBois in the 1984 television version of A Streetcar Named Desire (in which Beverly D'Angelo is also excellent as Stella). An IMDB reviewer ungallantly points out that Ann-Margret is not stage-trained, which is true enough, but her intuitions about this role and her identification with it are formidable. If you can hold your own with the memory of Vivien Leigh in one of her most famous parts, and put your own stamp on it, you are doing something.

One of the first movies in which Ann-Margret really started to stretch herself is Norman Jewison's meaty, flavorful The Cincinnati Kid (1965), opposite Steve McQueen. She takes what could be a stereotypical femme fatale role and makes it sensationally her own. (The whole supporting cast of this movie about a high-stakes poker player in the late Thirties is wonderful - Tuesday Weld, Karl Malden, Edward G. Robinson, Joan Blondell, Rip Torn, Jack Weston. Yowza.)

Streetcar Named Desire [VHS]

The Cincinnati Kid

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