Joan Fontaine Centenary Blogathon: My Tribute To Joan

Joan Fontaine Blogathon

Virginie over at The Wonderful World of Cinema and Crystal over at In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood are co-hosting this blogathon about Joan Fontaine.

The blogathon is being held in honour of what would have been Joan’s 100th birthday. Be sure to visit their sites to read all of the entries. I can’t wait to read them all myself.

I’m just so very happy that there is blogathon taking place all about Joan. She is an actress who I have long considered to be an extremely underrated one.  I think her own superb talents were often overshadowed by the equally superb talents of her sister, Olivia.

Joan is best remembered today for her unforgettable performances in two Alfred Hitchcock films – Suspicion and Rebecca. Joan made a great many other films too besides those though.

I like Joan because I think that she had a real gift for portraying certain types of people, and I think that Joan was one of the most expressive actresses in film history. I think that she really excelled at portraying fragile, gentle and vulnerable women.

Joan always makes me feel her characters pain, happiness, or their insecurity. Her eyes speak volumes and convey so much more than words ever could. When she smiled or laughed she seemed to glow and beam from within. A truly radiant person indeed.

Photo1129

Joan Fontaine lighting up the screen in Rebecca. Screenshot by me.

Joan was an actress who I think really could do it all. She could break your heart one moment, and have you scared for her the next. I like how she makes you connect emotionally to the varied array of characters she portrayed.

Joan and her older sister Olivia De Havilland were both born in Japan. Joan was a year younger than her sister. Both sisters would go on to join the acting profession. They were two of the most talented film actresses of their generation. Olivia went on to receive somewhat greater fame and attention than her sister did, and I think that is a real shame, as Joan really was every bit as talented as her sister was.

Two of my favourite films starring Joan are September Affair and Suspicion and I’m going to write a bit about each of them now.

September Affair is one I like quite a bit, as it shows Joan in a very different role to the fragile or tormented characters that she so often portrayed on screen. I love this film because it is romantic and sad, it also focuses on a growing relationship following a chance encounter. We have all met someone while travelling who we wish we could have known better, this film shows us what could happen if we spent more time with such a person in such a situation.

 

September Affair is a lovely film about Marianne and David (Joan Fontaine and Joseph Cotten) , a couple who befriend one another whilst on a trip to Italy. As they spend more time together they begin to care about each other very much and fall in love. David is married (unhappily so)and he is desperate for a divorce.

September affair

Publicity image of Joan and Joseph for September Affair. Image source IMDb.

When a plane Marianne and David were supposed to be on crashes, they are afforded an opportunity to start their lives afresh with each other, as they are both reported as being dead. The trouble is they are deliberately allowing those they have left behind to believe they are dead. Joan’s character must also come to terms with the fact that Cotten’s character will never give up his work, even for the sake of their new life together.

I love Joan and Joseph in this so much. Joan is excellent as an ordinary woman falling in love with this man, and also with a new life, in a new country. She lets you see her character falling hard for this man, but also shows us how keenly aware she is that he should go back to his family. If you’ve only seen Joan play fragile or nervous characters then this is a film you should check out. Joan is so natural and convincing in this role.

Joseph captures the desperation and desire of his character so well. He hates his old life, falls in love with this woman and wants her. But will she let them be together or not? Joan conveys so much with her expressions in this one. I love her in the early scenes where you can see her characters feelings for David grow and grow as she spends more time with him.

My second favourite Joan Fontaine film is Alfred Hitchcock’s Suspicion.  I think that Joan is at her very best here, as the innocent, love struck Lina. This girl falls in love with the seemingly perfect, and it must be said, very handsome Johnny (Cary Grant).

Not long after their marriage, Lina begins to suspect that Johnny is plotting to murder her. As her suspicions mount up, she becomes increasingly scared and anxious that he is trying to kill her. We in the audience believe her suspicions and fear for her. But is there any truth to her suspicions?

Suspicion

Joan in Suspicion. Image source IMDb.

I like how Joan starts out in this performance as a fresh and innocent girl, and I like how she later transitions to a more worldly, paranoid and nervous woman. Truly this is a remarkable performance to watch. Joan deservedly won the Best Actress Oscar for her performance here (her win was to be the only acting Oscar ever given for a performance in a Hitchcock film.)

Joan Fontaine is an actress whose work I am very pleased to have been able to see. She sure was a talented actress and I only wish that she was as much an acclaimed actress today as her sister (quite rightly)is and was. R.I.P Joan. Happy 100th birthday to one of the best film actresses.

 

Here are my five favourite Joan Fontaine films.

1- September Affair

2- Suspicion

3- This Above All

4- Jane Eyre

5- Rebecca

Any other fans of the two films I’ve mentioned? What are your thoughts on Joan and on her skills as an actress?

 

 

10 thoughts on “Joan Fontaine Centenary Blogathon: My Tribute To Joan

  1. thane62

    Fine post on a lovely actress, and an interesting person. Along with “Rebecca”, she’s wonderful in “Letter From An Unknown Woman” and gives the best performance in “Tender Is The Night”. I will for sure check out “September Affair.” Thanks, Maddy Cheers,Mark

    Liked by 1 person

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  2. Virginie Pronovost

    That was a beautiful tribute Maddy! I’m also writing one for the blogathon, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to top that. 😉 It was as agreable to read as Joan’s smooth voice is agreable to hear! I agree with everything you said, especially when you wrote “I think that she really excelled at portraying fragile, gentle and vulnerable women. ” In my opinion, Joan was the best at it and was never topped. I’m glad that September Affair is one of your two most favourite JF films! It’s such a beautiful film but also very underrated. And I LOOVE Joseph cotten as well! Thanks so much for your participation to the blogathon Maddy! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. maddylovesherclassicfilms Post author

      Thank you so much!!! Your kind words mean a great deal to me. Glad to see some more love for September Affair, I really wish that one was better known today. I can’t wait to read your tribute to Joan. Thanks for reading and thanks for co-hosting this terrific blogathon. x

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

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