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Monday, 11 July 2011

Box Set Monday #3: Eleanor Parker

That's right, this week I'm 'box setting' the "Woman of a Thousand Faces", Eleanor Parker. I know I've said it so many times on this blog, but she really is criminally underrated. She had talent, beauty, charisma, and charm, yet she was never fully appreciated. I love her to pieces, but then again, she has so much magnetism it's impossible not to! I would love to meet her, probably a very unlikely thing to happen but I can dream, no? ;D

A Box Set For Eleanor

Caged, 1950
The Voice of the Turtle, 1947
Detective Story, 1951
Scaramouche, 1952
Three Secrets, 1950
Home from the Hill, 1960

I included two of the films for which Eleanor was nominated for the Best Actress Academy Award: Caged and Detective Story. Her third, and last, nomination was for Interrupted Melody (1955), which, whilst being a really great film, isn't one of my favourites. Eleanor's performance was definitely Oscar-worthy though. I also did not include The Sound of Music because even though I absolutely adore it (and Eleanor's Baroness Schraeder is pretty much one of my favourite film characters EVER - she deserved a Best Supporting Actress nomination at the least), it's not so much an Eleanor Parker film and I only wanted to include films that were truly her own in the box set.  

Caged is the story of young, innocent newly-wed Marie Allen who is sent to prison after an attempted armed robbery during which her husband was killed. Shortly after going to prison she finds out she is pregnant and when the baby is born, Marie is made to grant custody of the child to her mother under the condition that once she is released from prison she can have her baby back. Unfortunately, it doesn't work out as planned and over time Marie becomes cynical and hardened, much like the people she first met when entering the prison. Eleanor did an amazing job with her role and because I'd only been used to seeing her in fairly glamorous roles previous to seeing this, I was shocked at how completely different she looked and acted. This film really demonstrates just why she was called the "Woman of a Thousand Faces". And yes, I do abuse that title ;D

The Voice of the Turtle (or "One For the Book" as it was later retitled) is a real gem of a film. It's quite hard to get a copy of, but if you can get your hands on one you won't be disappointed. It's such a sweet little romcom. Eleanor is so young and lovely and did I mention that Eve Arden is also in it? I love their scenes together... they had wonderful chemistry.

Directed by the utterly brilliant William Wyler, Detective Story is one of my favourite film noirs. It's tense and complex without being too confusing to follow, and chock-a-block with powerful performances, even Eleanor's quiet and subdued portrayal of Mary McLeod. I've never really been a big fan of Kirk Douglas but I can't deny that he gives a first class performance in DS. Once again, William Wyler delivers an arresting and thought provoking film. I can't recommend this film enough, especially if you love film noirs.

Scaramouche is a wonderfully rich (in cast and colours, not storyline ;D) and ridiculous film. Janet Leigh plays one of her most boring roles but Stewart Granger and Eleanor get to romp around France whilst wearing crazy outfits, which is always awesome.

There's really not much more I can really say about it other than you should go and watch it right now.

I first saw Three Secrets about 4 years ago and the moment I saw Eleanor on the screen I had to suppress a little squeal because IT WAS THE BARONESS! I'd never seen her in anything else, even though I'd always adored her as Baroness Schraeder. Three Secrets is a compelling story about 3 women who, for various reasons, each had to give up a baby. When a five year old boy is involved in a plane crash, in which both his adoptive parents where killed, and consequently trapped up on a mountain ledge, these 3 women (one of whom is the always brilliant Patricia Neal) both begin to wonder if the little boy is the child they had to give up 5 years before. It's a truly underrated gem of a drama, with great acting and a great storyline. 

Home from the Hill is a great but somewhat strange film. I love it, but there are parts that I hate - namely, the scenes with the dogs and the wild boar. Just no. It's without a doubt one of my favourite Eleanor films. She gives a top notch performance, one of her best I think, as Hannah, the wife of Wade Hunnicutt (Robert Mitchum) a wealthy and powerful Texan, whose womanising ways have turned Hannah against him and made her cold and bitter. They have one child, a teenage boy, who has been deeply affected by their dysfunctional relationship and who, when unleashed from his overprotective mother's side and let to roam free, begins to make problems of his own. HftH is really enjoyable, albeit depressing, drama that doesn't get the appreciation it deserves. Oh, and I must mention that George Peppard gives a brilliant performance! 


Well, that's all folks! Next week there will be a special guest poster for Box Set Monday, so stay tuned for that! And, as I said last week, if any of you would like to 'box set' someone just leave me a comment, send me an email, tweet me etc. and we'll see what we can do! :D 

Thanks for reading!


  1. I plan on watching *Voice of the Turtle* soon. I recently found it on YouTube and was excited because it IS rather hard to find (and I'd been wanting to see it for a while).

  2. Your Eleanor Parker box set would be worth shelling out the dough for.

    I'm not much a fan of "Home from the Hill", so I'd sneak in "Many Rivers to Cross" or "The Naked Jungle". A double-bill of Miss Parker with Paul Henreid would be nice: "Between Two Worlds" and "Of Human Bondage".

  3. I'm ashamed to say I have only seen Scaramouche & The Voice of the Turtle, though I have access to each and every one of these films. Mainly, I'm just scared of the rest...Caged, Detective Story, Home From the Hill. And well, Three Secrets too, because it sounds like it could easily be tearful and tragic.

    For Eleanor....I might just have to brave some of these though. I watch ROBERT TAYLOR movies her. I CAN do this. ;D


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