JOAN FONTAINE: IN HER OWN WORDS

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BBC interview from 1969:
“My first film was with Joan Crawford – No More Ladies – and I was 18 maybe. I was supposed to play a sophisticated rival of about 40! But that’s Hollywood.”
“I must have made about 5 or 6 a year before Rebecca.”

On Hitchcock and Rebecca:
He was darling, a bit formidable, enormously bawdy sense of humour. He had a habit of rather keeping all his actors at loggerheads,so he would be the one in the middle – rather puckish – good for me – made me suffer quite a lot – and it probably came out on the screen that way.

He had absolutely no nonsense about mood or meaning. He was telling a story and expected you to tell it with him – in absolutely common terms – no theories like The Actors Studio or any of that – made it terribly clear.

I remember one day I had to cry quite a lot and I said,’Hitch,I just cant cry any more’, and he said,’Well,kid,what are we gonna do’. I said,’Well, slap me in the face’, and off he went – slapped me. The tears came down,partly in pain,but a great deal of gratitude for his understanding.. It was wonderful of him.”

 

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The Oscars and Olivia:

“Olivia was up for it also, and I never expected to get it. Had I not got it for “Rebecca”,it was silly to think of it for “Suspicion” – they weren’t comparable to me. and I was making “The Constant Nymph.”

Olivia called me that day, as did the head of the Screen Actors Guild. I said I cant come, I’ve got to get up at five in the morning.

So, Olivia (and we were supposed to be enemies at this time – which was ridiculous) brought a seamstress over and several lovely gowns she had purchased for me – it was so sweet and wonderful of her.”

 

“Olivia was under contract to Warners, I to RKO, and I imagine the publicity depts. got together and said what are we going to do about these two spinster ladies, and evolved the feud…”

 

Joan was a wonderful interviewee and could have gone on talking,I’m sure, for a long time. She constantly smiled and seemed a woman in control of her life and with a sense of humour and a down-to-earth attitude to everything. Very impressive.

 

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3 responses »

  1. I also watched this programme and found it fascinating – interesting that Joan denied the feud with Olivia in that 1969 interview, but then admitted to it in a later one. You’ve pulled out some great quotes here, Vienna.

  2. I thought the Talking Pictures series was finished, so this was a nice surprise.
    Surely the BBC must have even more of these early interviews. I much prefer those done on film programs rather than chat shows. It so much depends on the questions asked.
    Who knows regarding the feud.

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