A marvelous actress, Gloria Grahame (1923-1981) was also an iconic figure of film noir. Her talents are showcased in several classic motion pictures of the 1940s and 1950s, including It’s a Wonderful Life, Crossfire, In a Lonely Place, The Greatest Show on Earth, The Big Heat, Oklahoma!, and The Bad and the Beautiful, for which she earned an Academy Award.
This comprehensive overview of Gloria Grahame’s life and work examines each of her feature films in detail, as well as her made-for-television productions, her television-series appearances and her stage career. Also discussed are the varied ways in which Grahame’s acting performances were affected by her tumultuous personal life–which included four marriages, the second to director Nicholas Ray and the fourth to Ray’s stepson Anthony.
The book shines a spotlight on each of Gloria’s films in various ways, from bringing to light her virtually unknown appearances in Soundies (1943-1944) to chronicling why Joan Crawford banned her from the set of Sudden Fear in 1952. From the struggles she had on the Oklahoma! set to her return from semi-retirement in the 1970s horror flicks Blood and Lace and Mansion of the Doomed, all of Gloria’s career choices are examined in detail.
Also noted are her made-for-television movies, specials and oddball productions, some of which have not been broadcast in many years; a brief look at her stage career, which restarted after her movie participation wound down and her family expanded again; and even her older sister, Joy Hallward, who appeared in fifteen films herself, mostly in bit parts.
All in all, Gloria Grahame: Bad Girl of Film Noir is an inclusive, intriguing survey of a fascinating show business career. The book not only covers Gloria’s films but places them in the larger context of Hollywood from the post-war renaissance of American film to the youth movement movies of the 1970s. It is an appreciation of Gloria’s beauty and acting prowess, which hold a singular place in Hollywood history. Gloria was never a major star, but her illustrious career twinkled and dazzled more brightly for a time than many of her more popular peers. She was one of a kind.