Wednesday, January 21, 2015

MIRIAM HOPKINS: FULL STEAM AHEAD IN "CARRIE"

This is my entry in the Miriam Hopkins Blogathon, hosted by Silver Screenings and a Small Press Life. Click HERE to read more, more, more about the saucy Miss Miriam.
Miriam as Julia Hurstwood: she's not taking
 a philandering husband laying down
Your suave and elegant husband leaves you for a younger woman and takes the money, too. What is a woman to do? Cry or put on her big girl panties and set forth like a steamship on the ocean crushing everything in its wake? If you are Miriam Hopkins as Julia Hurstwood in 1952’s “Carrie,” it is the latter. Oh, and add some jewels and choice words for the husband and the chippie, too.
The men in Carrie's life: there really is no competition


See this film if you can for one of Laurence Olivier’s greatest, most romantic screen performances. Based on Theodore Dreiser’s novel, “Sister Carrie”, published in 1900, William Wyler’s  film version, “Carrie,” tells the story of a dumb, young lovely (Jennifer Jones) who leaves the farm for the big city (Chicago) to live with her sister. Sis lives in a cramped apartment with her husband and children and makes it clear to Carrie that she needs to get off her pretty little behind and earn her keep. Carrie soon decides factory work is not for her and allows herself to be picked up by flirty traveling salesman, Charles Drouet (played with oily charm by Eddie Albert).  The next thing you know they are playing house and Carrie has new duds and a kitten. Charlie is often gone, so Carrie has lots of time on her hands.  She takes an interest in amateur theatre and George Hurstwood (Laurence Olivier), the manager of an upscale watering hole.

Carrie loves the lifestyle George gives her - at first
George is everything Charlie is not: he is refined and cultured. Unfortunately, he is also married. And not just a little married, but a lot married – to the formidable Julia Hurstwood.  She is presented as such a bitch that you really do feel sorry for George. Sorry enough to forgive him stealing money, lying to Carrie to whisk her away to New York, marrying her while still married to Julia, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. 

George tries to hang on to Carrie,
but he knows his star is falling and hers is rising

Olivier is the whole show here. His descent into homeless despair while Carrie's star rises is heartbreaking. He risked all for love and ended up empty-handed. Carrie feels remorse, but loves the materialism of the new century. In that, she is not unlike Julia Hurstwood. I'll bet Julia was not such a bitch so very long ago, but when George tells her he means to have some happiness she says no - not if it hurts her. Sir Larry is at his best, but Miriam is not to be overshadowed. When she steams into New York to find George and Carrie living together she looks her younger rival up and down and drawls, ice cubes laced with molasses, "I thought you'd be prettier." Well, she kept the money and got rid of the future bum. Good going, Julia. Like they say, if she were a man she'd be ruthless and strong, but as a woman, she's just a bitch.

All for love: his old life is gone and so is Carrie


Check out Julia giving George what for:






I also found this very touching video someone made about George and Carrie's romance.








16 comments:

panavia999 said...

Carrie is one of my favorite Olivier movies. A great ensemble cast too. I love Hopkins and Olivier together. It is such a sad movie, but I have watched it many times.

Caftan Woman said...

"Heartbreaking" is definitely the word for Hurstwood and Olivier's work here. It's a movie filled with dramatics I admire, but one I find difficult to revisit often. It breaks me up. Miriam certainly did fine things with William Wyler.

FlickChick said...

Thank you, Panavia - it is a very sad film, but Olivier is so romantic, it breaks my heart.

FlickChick said...

Hi CW - yes, Miriam had to fight for some good scenes here in a pretty nasty role, but Wyler gives her the chance to really show the hurt under the venom.

Silver Screenings said...

This film looks like it would be SO moving! I was starting to get a little verklempt just watching the clips you posted!

I can only imagine Miriam holding her own against Lawrence Olivier, and I cannot wait to see this film!

Thanks for participating in the blogathon with this unknown (to me) gem!

grandoldmovies said...

Hopkins is so steely and cold here, but she does give you an insight into her character's position: as a married woman in 1900, she's dependent on her husband and needs to fight to make sure she's taken care of. I liked how she played the role without compromise, letting you understand her character's point of view. I think Hopkins herself was a fighter and no doubt understood where Mrs Hurstwood was coming from.

Judy said...

Count me in as another one who loves this film (and Dreiser's novel too). I'm a big fan of Olivier so it breaks my heart too and I totally agree it is one of his greatest performances. Jennifer Jones is also good, but it's all about Olivier! I was surprised to see Hopkins in such a cold, nasty role, but, as you say, she really does make the character formidable. Judy

Elizabeth Boyde said...

Well, FlickChick you've done it again - piqued my interest in a movie I've passed over numerous times! I love how you start off talking about Miriam but most of the post seems to be about Olivier. lol

Miriam played the nasty one several times (anyone remember OLD ACQUAINTANCE?) but my favorite of such roles is THE MATING SEASON with Gene Tierney. What does she do in those parts to make you want to watch what she does? Must be that thing they call Star power ....

Off to see when my favorite channel will be showing CARRIE!

FlickChick said...

Thanks for hosting, Ruth - this great lady deserves more love.

FlickChick said...

Yes Grandoldmovies - I totally agree. Miriam's Julia is understandable. Romantic love is selfish, and Julia wasn't going to be a victim.

FlickChick said...

Judy - Olivier's autumnal grasp at romance is so heartfelt. I agree Jennifer Jones is just okay, but Carrie really is a bit of a twit here.

FlickChick said...

Elizabeth - well, Miriam's role was small here - it really was all about Larry. But she got off some good scenes.

girlsdofilm said...

Love Hopkins' life philosophy in this film, which is one of my favorite Olivier movies. I second Caftan Woman's comment about the 'dramatics' but it's not an easy watch. I do love the costume in the first still you posted - such a frothy affair but she wears it so well!

said...

You are the third blogger who says wonderful things about this movie that is only getting higher in my watchlist. The cast is just marvelous!
Thanks for the kind comment!
Kisses!
Le

FlickChick said...

Hi Girls - it is hard to watch because it is so sad. Good thing Miriam was around to inject some venom.

FlickChick said...

Le - I hope you do get to watch someday!