Day Nineteen of Noirvember: Celebrating Gene

When you think of first-rate noir actresses, the really talented ones, who do you think of? Stanwyck? Claire Trevor? Audrey Totter?

What about Gene Tierney? Is she even on your list?

Because of her striking beauty and innate elegance, I think that Tierney’s acting prowess is often overlooked, but she lent her unique charms to six films noirs, and she’s well deserving of her place in the sun – or the shadows, if you will.

In celebration of Tierney’s birth date – she would have turned 98 today – I’m delighted to celebrate Noirvember by taking a look at her considerable contributions to the era of film noir.

The Shanghai Gesture (1941)

An early example of film noir, this film is set in the Shanghai of the film’s title, and centers on a gambling den run by the exotic Mother Gin Sling, played by Ona Munson. Tierney plays Poppy, a spoiled, self-indulgent socialite who is seduced by the danger she finds at the casino.

Favorite Tierney quote: “The other places are like kindergartens compared with this. It smells so incredibly evil! I didn’t think such a place existed except in my own imagination. It has a ghastly familiarity, like a half-remembered dream. Anything can happen here. Any moment.”

Laura (1944)

Laura (1944)

One of noir’s most iconic offerings, Laura starts out as a story about the murder of the title character – played by Tierney – and the search for her killer. Halfway through, however, it turns into something else, when the very dead Laura turns out to be very much alive.

Favorite Tierney quote: “I never have been and I never will be bound by anything I don’t do of my own free will.”

Leave Her to Heaven (1945)

This is a rare color noir, in which Tierney portrays Ellen Berent, a woman whose tendency toward obsessive, cloying love knows no bounds. Labeled by a family member as one who “loves too much,” Ellen’s demonstration of affection left a trail of dead bodies in its wake.

Favorite Tierney quote: “This baby’s making a prisoner out of me. I hate the little beast – I wish it would die.”

Whirlpool (1949)

Whirlpool (1949)

Here, Tierney plays Ann Sutton, who undergoes hypnosis in an effort to cure her kleptomania, only to find herself at the scene of a murder with no memory of how she got there. And no way to prove that she’s not the killer.

Favorite Tierney quote: “I don’t remember going there, I tell you. I couldn’t have done it. I couldn’t! Unless . . . Unless I’m crazy.”

Night and the City (1950)

One of noir’s finest offerings (in my book, anyway), Night and the City focuses on Harry Fabian (Richard Widmark), a con man from way back, whose life seems to be one long get-rich-quick scheme. Tierney played his long-suffering girlfriend, Mary, who was in Harry’s corner whether he was filching money from her purse or running for his life.

Favorite Tierney quote: “You could have been anything. Anything. You had brains, ambition. You worked harder than any ten men. But the wrong things. Always the wrong things.”

Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950)

Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950)

Tierney was re-teamed with her Laura co-star Dana Andrews in this feature, where she played Morgan Taylor, whose father is falsely accused in a killing that was actually caused by a cop with a hair-trigger temper. And if that wasn’t bad enough, Taylor falls for the cop.

Favorite Tierney quote: “It’s a wonderful day. No job. Everybody against me. My poor dad sitting in a cell. And it’s a wonderful day. Isn’t that amazing?”

Celebrate Gene Tierney’s born day and appreciate her many gifts by checking out one of her films.

And join me tomorrow for Day 20 of Noirvember!

~ by shadowsandsatin on November 19, 2018.

21 Responses to “Day Nineteen of Noirvember: Celebrating Gene”

  1. Thanks for the well deserved Tierney tribute. Tierney in the rowboat in LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN is one of noir’s indelible chilling moments.

  2. Absolutely right I haven’t seen all these films but I do adore her beauty and her acting

  3. I absolutely love this woman and you’re right, she’s so underrated and people don’t often think of her when they call to mind great noir actresses (which is so unfortunate). To me, she’s the ultimate noir femme fatale.

  4. I hate the little beast was a shocking line. She was a psychopath in that movie.

  5. Thanks for bringing attention to an underrated actress. She’s not only beautiful but talented. Even though I’ve seen these films, I never really think of her when I think of film noir.

  6. She was great. Her performance in Leave Her To Heaven always gives me chills.

  7. I cannot think of an actress that could have played “Laura” as well.

  8. Gene is one of my favorite actresses and she’s wonderful in all the movies mentioned. My favorite is “Whirlpool” which I have on DVD.

  9. Gene was a natural beauty

  10. […] Day Nineteen: Celebrating Gene (Tierney) […]

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