Saturday, July 11, 2009

Poll Results II: Joan Fontaine

The tie breaker for the June Poll is over. The majority of you think that Joan Fontaine should have won the 1940 Academy Award for Best Actress. The votes:

Joan Fontaine, Rebecca: 14 (60%)
Katharine Hepburn, The Philadelphia Story: 9 (39%)

What happened to all the Kate Hepburn fans? The Philadelphia Story was her big comeback part and yet she couldn't compete with Olivia DeHavilland's little sister! Rebecca was that year's Best Picture winner (Hitchcock's only) and while I'm not a Joan Fontaine fan, I can see how her role in this beautiful movie could have won. It's probably her defining performance, though she would win her Oscar the next year for Suspicion, another Alfred Hitchcock film. The lady was at her career peak, and yet she barely registers among the general public when appraisals of Golden Age actresses are made. It's difficult to get past the Barbara-Bette-Joan-Kate quartet, but whatever it is about Fontaine that her fans like, she delivers it full tilt in Rebecca. I'd love for anyone reading this to do a guest post here on why they love this film and Fontaine as they do. Consider it an open invitation...


  1. I voted for Joan in the tiebreaker.

    But, I'm pretty sure I voted for Ginger in the original poll. Although, I really don't think that was Ginger's BEST role ever.

    I rather like Joan. She is an incredibly likable actress. The problem for me is that she almost always played the exact same character (Rebecca, Suspicion, The Women, and Jane Eyre are a few example off the top of my head). And, that is one of the reasons I adore Olivia way, way, way more than Joan! Olivia played so many diverse characters...and she played them well.

    Wow, this has absolutely nothing to do with your post...sorry! ;-D

  2. Hi Millie! I held back in my non-interest in Fontaine because I try not to bash anyone here. That said, I agree with your view that she played the same wide-eyed, ingenue-type character in many of her best-known films. She pretty much peaked in 1941. But once again, if there are any Joan fans who want to eloquently state their case for her, I'd love to read it.

  3. Hepburn was great in so many films, but Joan Fontaine was born for that role. After having seen the film several times, it's hard for me to imagine anyone else pulling off the character's naivete and innocence nearly as well.

    To me, it compares with what's been often said about Kim Novak's performance in a later Hitchcock film, Vertigo. You find yourself asking "Is that really acting?".

  4. I've just discovered your blog-- lovely. :)

    Gosh, it would've been terribly hard to choose. They were both perfection in their roles.

  5. Dave: Excellent point. That's exactly what I see in Fontaine and her as "the Second Mrs. DeWinter."

    Juliette: Thanks for signing up! I'll do my best to keep your interest.


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