RIP Joan Fontaine (1917 – 2013)
Let’s hope these passings don’t come in three’s and someone is closely monitoring Joan Fontaine’s older sister Olivia de Havilland, whom for the uninitiated starred in Gone With The Wind and alongside her sister are the only Hollywood siblings in history to have both best best acting gongs. But we’re here to pay our respects to Joan, perhaps not well known to many outside film-fan circles, but as Hitchcock’s first American leading lady in Rebecca her historical legacy is assured, no to mention that fact that she also worked with such luminaries as Nicholas Ray, George Cukor, Robert Wise, Billy Wilder, Fritz Lang, Anthony Mann and in perhaps the greatest film of her career a yearning performance in Max Ophüls’s poisonous valentine Letter From An Unknown Woman;
That is a great, rather scary film about a woman’s absolute obsession with her suitor who barely pays her any attention, it is quite cruel and psychologically dense for its time and subsequently has been the subject of a wealth of academic interest, I’ve been meaning to re-watch it for years. For genre fans she also appeared in the little known Hammer film The Witches which I think has received a modest restoration recently, it was her last film apperance back in 1966. Just her sister and Kirk left from the olden days now I think…..EDIT – fuck, forgot that Lauren Bacall is still around, and still working. Then again, she was only 17 or 18 when she first appeared and fell in love with Bogie….