Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Happy Birthday, Jeanne Crain!

One of my very favorite actresses, Jeanne Crain, was born in Barstow, California, on this date 85 years ago.

My favorite Jeanne Crain film is STATE FAIR (1945), Rodgers and Hammerstein's only original film musical, which is also one of my all-time favorite movies. Very close behind it on my list of Crain favorites are MARGIE (1946), about an awkward teenager blossoming into a swan in the Roaring '20s, and APARTMENT FOR PEGGY (1948), in which she played the effervescent, talkative young wife of a veteran (William Holden) trying to complete his college education.

STATE FAIR has had an absolutely wonderful DVD release; it's a beautiful print and has many extras. There was also an earlier DVD release without extras. If you've not yet become acquainted with this charming, colorful film, I highly recommend it. The Rodgers and Hammerstein standards which were written for this film include the Oscar-winning "It Might as Well Be Spring" as well as the marvelous "It's a Grand Night for Singing."

Unfortunately neither MARGIE or APARTMENT FOR PEGGY is available on DVD or video. (2016 Update: APARTMENT FOR PEGGY is available on DVD via Fox Cinema Classics, although I have read that the print is a disappointment. In recent years both APARTMENT FOR PEGGY and MARGIE occasionally turn up on Fox Movie Channel or Turner Classic Movies.)

In addition to her film career, Jeanne Crain was the mother of seven children. She passed away in 2003.

Relatively little has been published about Crain's career. In 1977 a lovely little book was published, JEANNE CRAIN: THE BEAUTIFUL DREAMER, by Phil Booker. There is also a chapter on her career in James Robert Parish's 1971 book THE FOX GIRLS, one of my favorite titles by that prolific biographer.

Other Jeanne Crain films previously reviewed here: HOME IN INDIANA (1944), IN THE MEANTIME, DARLING (1944), YOU WERE MEANT FOR ME (1948), A LETTER TO THREE WIVES (1949), TAKE CARE OF MY LITTLE GIRL (1951), I'LL GET BY (1951), DANGEROUS CROSSING (1953), VICKI (1953), THE FASTEST GUN ALIVE (1956), and SKYJACKED (1972).

Monty has also posted a birthday tribute to Jeanne Crain, with a lovely photo, at All Good Things.

2013 Update: Here's an additional Crain film review, for THE TATTERED DRESS (1957).

2014 Update: Here are reviews of GUNS OF THE TIMBERLAND (1960), CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN (1950), and BELLES ON THEIR TOES (1952).

Update: Here are additional reviews of THE GANG'S ALL HERE (1943), LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN (1945), and THE MODEL AND THE MARRIAGE BROKER (1951).

Update: Here's more on A LETTER TO THREE WIVES (1949), including an extended photo gallery.

May 25, 2020 Update: I've posted A Tribute to Jeanne Crain, which is adapted from my 2014 article for ClassicFlix.


Blogger Gordon Pasha said...

Dear Laura:

I love “State Fair”, not only for the fine Jeanne Crain, but also for my personal favorite, Fay Bainter. I mentioned elsewhere “I have a friend in Berkshire, England, a retired colonel who married late in life. He told me once that he kept holding out -- hoping that Jeanne Crain might turn up. She did not.” And Fay Bainter was well spoken for before I reached the age of marriage.

But Crain is perfect in “State Fair” and the other films you mention: “Margie”, “Apartment for Peggy” and “A Letter to Three Wives”. And back to “State Fair”, let’s not forget Vivian Blaine. It appears on Fox regularly and I watch it each time, but based on your recommendation will get the DVD. Marvelous film. Thank you.


5:57 AM  
Blogger A said...

I adore Jeanne Crain. My favorite film is A Letter to Three Wives. She plays the perfect sweetheart.

9:28 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

That's a great anecdote about your friend, Gerald!

I hope you'll enjoy the DVD. It includes an excellent documentary and commentary track. It also includes the 1962 remake, which can't hold a candle to the original, but I enjoyed more than I expected when I first saw it last summer.

I'm happy to hear from another Crain fan, Amanda! I agree with you and Gerald that she was excellent in the classic A LETTER TO THREE WIVES.

Best wishes,

9:57 AM  
Blogger LauraCrain2 said...

Jeanne Crain was my Grandfather's first cousin. It is nice to see that she is still remembered. Laura Crain

5:56 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thank you so much for visiting and taking the time to comment, Laura -- it's lovely hearing from one of Jeanne's relatives. She was a very special actress who has brought countless people happiness via her films. :)

Best wishes,

7:09 PM  

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