Jump to: navigation, search

The New Yorker (04/Jan/2010) - Hollywood Royalty: Two sides of Grace Kelly




Hollywood Royalty: Two sides of Grace Kelly

One spring day in 1952, Miss Grace Kelly, of Philadelphia, now resident in New York, went across to "a barn-like studio on the far West Side of Manhattan." That is how she later described it, as if recalling a foreign trip. In the barn, she did a screen test, for a movie called "Taxi," opposite Robert Alda: the fair young maid and the darker, troubled fellow, each pleading with the other. Kelly wears a soft sweater and, beneath it, a white blouse, whose demure collar is just discernible. We can also make out a mild Irish accent — not much of a stretch, for one of the Kelly clan. "It ain't that I'm not fond of you," she says, in words that have weighed like lead, throughout history, on the hearts of disappointed guys. Her eyes keep moving across the man, as if he were a passage of verse. There is both hesitancy and force in this woman; you can picture her, faced with a decision, flitting back and forth, and yet, once decided, becoming quite fiery and sure. It was a combination that appealed to the director of "Taxi," Gregory Ratoff. He liked the look of Kelly, all the more so because, in his view, the look was that of a plain Jane. According to Kelly, "I was in the 'too' category for a very long time. I was too tall, too leggy, too chinny. I remember that Mr. Ratoff kept yelling, 'She's perfect! What I love about this girl is that she's not pretty!' "

Few movie directors have been certifiably blind, and on the strength of this oversight Ratoff tops the list with ease, but, to his credit — and to Kelly's relief — he was ready to rave about this creature for reasons other than her looks. Ratoff's bosses at Twentieth Century Fox didn't share his eagerness, and she failed to get the part, but his fellow-directors knew better. Donald Spoto, the author of a new biography, "High Society: The Life of Grace Kelly" (Harmony; $25.99), seems to place her screen test in 1950, but I watched it recently, and there, in the corner of the frame, is the date "May 26 1952." In short, it was only a matter of months before Kelly came to the attention of John Ford, at M.G.M. (Spoto's remark on such practice — "it was common for studios to exchange screen tests made by actors they subsequently rejected" — has the right ring of pitiless mercantile behavior. You take my leavings, I'll have yours.) Ford warmed to what he saw — "This dame has breeding, quality, class," he said, adding, "I'll bet she'll knock us on our ass!" — and, come November, the dame was in Africa, shooting "Mogambo" and knocking Clark Gable on his ass. That may have rattled a bit, because he had false teeth.

And still "Taxi" sped on. In the summer of 1953, Kelly was summoned to the presence of Alfred Hitchcock, who wanted to inspect her for a leading role in "Dial M for Murder." He had not yet seen "Mogambo"; he was not even certain, he once told Spoto, that he had seen "High Noon," which had been released a year before, and in which Kelly played Gary Cooper's Quaker wife. But he had seen her in the "Taxi" test, and that was sufficient; to those fleeting minutes, therefore, we owe not only "Dial M for Murder" but "Rear Window," one of the monuments of the medium, and "To Catch a Thief," one of its blithest feats of seduction.

Mathematically, Kelly presents an unusual case. She made only eleven feature films, in a career that lasted just five years, from 1951 to 1956. Of those eleven, six are treasured — five and a half, maybe, depending on how you feel about "Mogambo," with its amusing study of the way baby elephants behave in proximity to mud. Of the remaining movies, "Green Fire" is a certified stinker, while "The Country Girl" — for which Kelly won an Oscar — is drab and overwrought. Kelly appears in "The Bridges at Toko-Ri," despite her lofty billing, for about fifteen minutes, and in "Fourteen Hours" for a fraction of that. As for "The Swan," her penultimate film, it was a smash in its day but has faded into a delicate curiosity, like a watercolor on a sunny wall. Yet the patina of Kelly herself — the gloss of her name and fame, the freshness and directness of her look — has, if anything, acquired a richer lustre. Accounts of her modus vivendi never cease to accrue, yet the more we know the less we seem to grasp. Starlight can be quantified — 1954 was "this year of Grace," according to Life — but its effect on maddened mortals below is all but impossible to gauge. The Kelly effect is not unlike the James Dean effect (three great films, three bit parts), whereby a few brief hours of screen time continue unquenchably to burn.

Grace was the third child of John B. Kelly, and far from his favorite. He was a strapping, outdoors figure, who grew rich in the construction business, and won three Olympic gold medals for rowing; Franklin D. Roosevelt made him National Physical Fitness Director. He pushed his only son, John, Jr., in similar directions. Grace was soft and sickly as a child, "always sniffling," she recalled, and her father preferred her elder sister, Margaret (known as Peggy), for whom he predicted great things. "I thought it would be Peggy whose name would be up in lights one day. Anything that Grace could do, Peggy could do better," he told McCall's in January, 1955, shortly before the disappointing daughter got her Academy Award. Peggy and John, Jr., for their part, grew up to lead problematic lives, dampened by drink.

A home movie exists of the children at play, on a beach — perhaps at the family vacation home in Ocean City, New Jersey. The children, in bathing costumes, are still small, and each is summoned forth to face the camera and salute, as if being a Kelly were a form of active service. When in Rome, you can see the movie for yourself; just wander down the Via del Corso and duck into the Fondazione Memmo, where an exhibition entitled "Gli Anni di Grace Kelly, Principessa di Monaco" is showing till the end of February. There is much to dote upon, beginning with a birth certificate, dated November 12, 1929. There are film clips, posters, magazine covers, dresses, jewels, a giant Hermés Kelly handbag, and a room devoted to the day, in 1956, when Kelly married Prince Rainier and became Princess Grace. There are letters from a range of acquaintances, including George Balanchine, Jacqueline Onassis, and Greta Garbo, who admits to being "upside-downy" and confides, as one deity to another, that "I have not been around much with human beings lately." No, indeed. The deal that Kelly struck with herself is, in some ways, even stranger than Garbo's withdrawal from the world. The younger woman's kernel of privacy was no less keenly guarded, yet she chose to live and marry in the public glare, as if daring herself to bury any frailties beneath the sheen of self-possession. Even when wretched, she would be right-side-uppy.

The most touching object in the show is the scrapbook compiled by the teen-age Grace. A paper napkin, a Christmas-tree decoration, a Schaefer beer mat, a bookmark with lines from Emily Dickinson, a red matchbook, a ticket for a charity golf match, and the wrapper from a pack of Wrigley's Doublemint, its cheerful greenness still bright. Joseph Cornell would have taken one look and wept. There are notes, inscribed in ink by the owner: "This is where Harper got me the silver compact he gave me for Valentine's," "Daddy bought this for me at the Penn Cornell game," and, beside a torn blue ticket stub for the Locust Street Theatre, in Philadelphia, the words "Dec. 9th '43. Our class went in to see 'Kiss + Tell.' "

The stage bug, unencouraged by her parents, was starting to bite, and, with barely a jump, Kelly went from collecting playbills to appearing on them. In 1947, before enrolling at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, which charged a cool five hundred dollars a year, she moved to New York, where she resided, as nice young ladies did, at the Barbizon Hotel for Women, at Lexington and Sixty-third Street, and had an affair with an actor and director eleven years her senior, as nice young ladies didn't. What is more, he was married, though separated, and Jewish; "The fact that I could fall in love with a Jew was beyond them," Kelly said of her parents, in a letter to a friend. For the next two years, she alternated between theatrical training and professional modelling, including spots on TV commercials. The first of these, for insecticide, required the future Princess to run about, "smiling like an idiot and spraying like a demon," as she put it, but, sadly, no whiff of it lingers. Shortly after graduation, in 1949, she won roles at the Bucks County Playhouse, in New Hope, Pennsylvania, and Donald Spoto, helpfully, reprints a program note. It is a masterpiece of belittlement:

She is the daughter of John B. Kelly, of Philadelphia. Her brother recently figured in the news by winning the Diamond Sculls at the Henley Regatta in England. Her father was a champion oarsman and is well known as the former chairman of the Democratic Party in Philadelphia.

Reading this, you can't help marking out the time line of Kelly's liberation. What she did was escape from one starchy, disapproving, tradition-tight environment, become her own woman for eight or nine years, and then dive head first into another, as if her conscience had caught up with her. If, for the term of her fame, she was able to enslave the attention of all who knew her, as well as the millions who didn't, it may be because she was forced — or forced herself — to pack a lifetime of freedom into the briefest span. She sometimes comes across as the last of the Jamesians, slipping the bonds of the New World, "affronting her destiny," as James says of Isabel Archer, yet winding up before long in a parody of the Old — in a miniature state, antiquated and fussy, where she could live in limitless style but never at ease. (It is reported that, as a gesture of good will on the occasion of her marriage, Monaco's only prisoner was released.) Every woman who came to visit her, Princess Grace learned, was obliged to wear a hat.

According to Spoto's calculations, Kelly, having been noticed by scouts, performed in no fewer than thirty-five live television dramas between 1950 and 1954. (Who wouldn't wish to have seen her as Dulcinea to Boris Karloff's Don Quixote?) Amid these, she did indeed play a character from Henry James, a nineteenth-century enchantress from his late, time-travelling novel "The Sense of the Past." Onstage, two years before, she had played Marian Almond in an adaptation of "Washington Square." Marian is described by James as "a pretty little person of seventeen, with a very small figure and a very big sash, to the elegance of whose manners matrimony had nothing to add," and what is extraordinary, in retrospect, is the number of Kelly projects that arrowed in on marriage — on the loom and the lure of it, on the sacrifices that might be incurred, on the dreams of flight that it could not help but promote. Her first appearance on the big screen, in "Fourteen Hours," already fits the bill; in fur coat, veil, and pearls, she is helped through a gridlock of cars, in a hurry to get to the lawyers' office, where her divorce will be finalized. In the end, she decides to halt the proceedings and give love another go. Next came "High Noon," which begins with Kelly as a newlywed, worried — and no wonder, when you see the varmints whom her husband must confront — that she is set to become an instant widow. Then we get "Mogambo," in which Kelly must tamp down her attraction to a hunter and safari guide (Clark Gable) in favor of a stolid husband; "The Country Girl," in which her marriage is imperilled by drink; "The Bridges at Toko-Ri," in which she sees her husband off to war and death; "Rear Window," where her dearest wish is to win Jimmy Stewart; and "To Catch a Thief," in which she is pretty much pimped by her own mama.

And so to "The Swan," where we find Kelly's Princess Alexandra, a noblewoman in a sunlit European land, in the lull before the First World War, torn between a royal tutor (Louis Jourdan), glossy and flame-hearted, and the dry, balding prince (Alec Guinness) for whom she is intended. "Your whole life, your whole upbringing, has been devoted to just one thing: to make you fit to be a queen," Alexandra's mother tells her. Temptations are resisted; duty calls, and the happy couple — or, at least, the correct couple — get hitched. "The Swan" wrapped in December, 1955. On December 28th, Prince Rainier proposed to Kelly, and what one longs to know is: Had she planned what kind of groom she would snare in the end, and, perhaps unconsciously, angled her choice of movies in that direction, or did the matchmaking simply prove — to a world thirsty for illusion, only a decade after the Second World War — that movies could still come true?

To that last question, "High Society," which was filmed during Kelly's engagement, is a tarter response than its reputation might suggest, with Kelly, playing the ex-wife of Bing Crosby, veering back toward him on the eve of her second marriage. (And enjoying a bracing dip with Frank Sinatra along the way.) It is customary to denigrate "High Society" by comparing it with its parent, "The Philadelphia Story," but I knew the child first, when I was a child, too, and nothing can undo the movies that we are led to in our youth, or the skein of impressions that they leave. I remember my mother explaining to me, drawing on who knows what store of apocrypha, that Prince Rainier had watched the scene of his wife-to-be, droopy with drink, being lugged through the moonlight in Sinatra's arms, both of them in towelling robes, and that His Serene Highness had bridled at the outrage and declared that her works be outlawed, henceforth and on pain of death, within the bounds of his kingdom. This struck me as precisely how a jealous monarch should behave, and the twin sense of Kelly as both sovereign and subversive was planted in my brain. I was told how remarkable it was that Kelly had deigned to sing, and therefore how natural it was that her yacht-borne duet with Crosby, "True Love," should have sold a million copies on record. She fondles the end of his squeezebox as they harmonize, but that, I suspect, went over my head, as did their bizarre exchange beside the swimming pool:

"Gee, I didn't know that you wanted a husband who would be kind of a high priest to a virgin goddess."

"Oh, stop using those foul words."

Best of all, my mother pointed out that when Crosby sang "I Love You, Samantha" he did everything — folded his handkerchief, tied his bow tie, wound his wristwatch, filled his cigarette case, and donned his tuxedo, crooning all the while — without a cut. I had never heard of a cut before, or a take. (And, if there is any actor alive today who could reach that extreme pitch of relaxation, I've yet to see him.) When the cut finally comes, it is to Kelly, listening at the window of her bedroom. She walks away, overwhelmed; we follow her, then pause, and pull politely back, as she turns and stands there, sheathed in her Oriental robe of yellow-gold. Downstairs, Louis Armstrong laughs and says, "Now we're gettin' warm."

The sex life of Grace Kelly, like the home life of the Incas, is one of those distant but down-to-earth matters which we can investigate in depth, and muse upon at length, but never really hope to understand. According to some observers, she herself may not have grasped its implications; in the words of a columnist at Photoplay, "I wonder if Grace Kelly knew she had so much S.A." To which the only proper response is, W.T.F.?

Donald Spoto, in his new book, takes the unfashionable decision to deny anything that smacks of rampancy. That distinct clatter you can hear, as you turn the pages, is the sound of skeletons being crammed back into the closet. Here are some of the people with whom Kelly, contrary to what you may have heard, did not have an affair: the star and the director, respectively, of "High Noon," Cooper and Fred Zinnemann ("not a shred of evidence to support either rumor," Spoto writes), Ray Milland ("no one connected to 'Dial M for Murder' was aware of or spoke about any intrigue"), Bing Crosby, and, most impressive of all, Clark Gable, on "Mogambo." Spoto puts us straight on that one right away: "A strong attraction is not invariably expressed sexually, no matter how randy the principals" — a sentence that grows curiouser and curiouser the more you peruse it. This is not to say that nothing whatever occurred between the King of Hollywood and the Ice Princess. Oh no. "There was definitely a passionate friendship, however. Grace undertook to knit Clark a pair of socks for Christmas." Such woolly restraint was not practiced by the other pair of resident friends, Ava Gardner and Frank Sinatra; they had flown to Africa together, and could be heard resorting to what Spoto, pursing his lips, describes as "loud intimate merriment." That's three words for it.

This maidenly approach on the part of the modern biographer has something refreshing about it. If the trend continues, we can look forward to the life of, say, Lady Gaga, expressed in the form of a two-volume memoir, compiled by a loyal friend, in which a discreet narrative is linked by her personal correspondence. That was the Victorian method, and there is much to be said for it, as opposed to this:

Grace Kelly was a conniving woman. She almost ruined my best friend Mal's marriage. Grace Kelly fucked everything in sight. She was worse than any woman I'd ever known.

So said Skip Hathaway, the wife of Henry Hathaway, who directed Kelly in "Fourteen Hours." She was interviewed by Robert Lacey in 1992, forty years after the filming of "Dial M for Murder," and quoted in "Grace," Lacey's 1994 biography. (Mal was Mrs. Ray Milland.) Lacey is an expert proponent of the Chinese whisper, whereby he quotes somebody who quotes somebody who knew the subject in question. Thus, he turns to "the screenwriter Bryan Mawr," of whom I can find no other trace (was he an old friend of Vossar?), and hears these words, secondhand, from the lips of Alfred Hitchcock, complete with attempted transcription from the Cockney: "That Gryce! She fucked everyone!" Given the choice, I prefer the poised recollection of Herbert Coleman, who knew Kelly from "Rear Window" and "To Catch a Thief," on which he was second unit director, and said to Spoto, "Just about everyone wanted to bring her a cup of tea or run an errand for her or do something."

Your view of Kelly depends on what you make of the something. All that we can be sure of, in the end, is the cup of tea, because we have a wonderful photograph of Hitchcock giving tea to his star on the set of "To Catch a Thief." Proper tea, of course, from a bone-china teapot, served in a cup and saucer, with a silver teaspoon. Kelly is seated in Cary Grant's chair, outside on the grass, as though at an English picnic, and the master of suspense looks like a rubicund butler at a country house. James Cameron may have done the same for Sigourney Weaver on the set of "Aliens," but I doubt it.

Hitchcock is the figure who wraps together the opposing views of Grace Kelly, and folds them into a single mystery. He knew and relished all the rumors, but would never have been so vulgar as to brandish what they proposed, like an emblazoned flag, in the course of the three films with Kelly. One quick flutter would suffice. He was the first director to listen closely to the gentle crack in that well-bred speaking voice ("improperly placed," according to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts), and to register the wicked elongation of her vowels: "Oh now, don't say you can't go," a scarlet-clad Grace tells Ray Milland in "Dial M for Murder," lowering that final syllable into a two-toned croon. (She is cheating on him, and her lover is in the room.) During a famous exchange with Francois Truffaut, Hitchcock argued that "if sex is too blatant or obvious, there's no suspense. You know why I favor sophisticated blondes in my films? We're after the drawing-room type, the real ladies, who become whores once they're in the bedroom." He then referred to the scene in "To Catch a Thief" where John Robie (Cary Grant), a former cat burglar, joins Frances (Kelly), an heiress, and her mother for drinks at a Riviera hotel. "I deliberately photographed Grace Kelly ice-cold and I kept cutting to her profile, looking classical, beautiful, and very distant. And then, when Cary Grant accompanies her to the door of her hotel room, what does she do? She thrusts her lips right up to his mouth."

The auteur is aroused, perhaps, by his own art, and with good cause. "Thrusts" is too meaty a word for what Kelly does; she just homes in, frictionless and unquestioning, as if not to kiss Cary Grant would have been an insult to nature, and the giveaway is less in her devilish shadow of a smile than in the arm that she drapes around his neck, fingers faintly kneading, to pull him close. Oh, and that look on his face as she closes the door: modest, entertained, surprised, but not too surprised — confessing to himself that, yes, in the best of all possible worlds (which is where Hitchcock, for a minute or more, has landed us), this is just the kind of thing that ought to happen.

"Grace" reads the heading of Section XXII, in the third part of "A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful," published in 1757. The author, Edmund Burke, elaborates: "Gracefulness is an idea belonging to posture and motion. In both these, to be graceful, it is requisite that there be no appearance of difficulty; there is required a small inflexion of the body," whose various parts, he says elsewhere, should be "not angular, but melted as it were into each other." Burke was in his twenties when he wrote this, and you can tell. You also wish that he could have hopped a couple of centuries and witnessed Grace in action: the small inflection of her body, say, as she strolls around a low-lit room, in "Rear Window," turning on lamps, with James Stewart watching, wry and enraptured, from his wheelchair. "By beauty," Burke says, "I mean, that quality or those qualities in bodies by which they cause love, or some passion similar to it."

That is what Kelly did: she caused love. No gift is more priceless, and you probably have to be born with it, but, like all jewels, it can use a cut and polish, and it took a while for Kelly — not to mention her lovers, and her better directors — to make the most of her facets. The glitter is not yet at full power in "Mogambo," although John Ford did snatch a few shots of her panting at Gable, with a storm in the air and sweat in the hollow of her throat. Nonetheless, when Ava Gardner, wearing a conical bra that could put out the eyes of a hippo, says to her, "Oh, men can get you into all sorts of trouble, can't they?," Kelly just sips her tea in some confusion. Ford had the two most beautiful women in the world in one frame, but the clash was not yet between equals, because Kelly was still being presented as the little woman. If she grew taller by the end of the shoot, it's partly because of what happened offscreen, not least when Gardner, who had become a pal, took her on furlough to Rome. There, according to Lee Server, Gardner's biographer, they toured the city's brothels after dark. Women can get themselves into all sorts of trouble.

Hollywood has, as often as not, been thrown and baffled by its most unearthly beauties; Gene Tierney, Linda Darnell, and Hedy Lamarr boast no more than a pocketful of strong films among them. How did Kelly manage? Well, it may have helped to have grown up in a Philadelphia mansion with seventeen rooms and a chauffeur. It certainly helped that she was not so consumed by desperation for stardom that she would do anything, and buckle under any instruction, to reach it; "the idea of being owned by a studio was offensive to me," she said. The Kelly who emerges from Spoto's book is more headstrong, during her years of self-rule, than you might expect; first in her contractual duels, and then in the control of her own image. In 1955, the two strands entwined, as, with an Oscar nomination under her belt, and with the heads of M-G-M snarling and suspending her for turning down roles that they thought she should be grateful for (including that of the ailing Elizabeth Barrett Browning), she took herself and her sister Peggy off to Jamaica, where she arranged to be photographed by Howell Conant. Those who bought Collier's magazine on June 24th, and checked the cover, knew that they had run into something hot, and that Kelly knew it, too — posing in a pool and staring at the lens, with the water up to her bare shoulders. What went on below the surface, or what had come off, was ours to guess. This is not the action of a cold fish.

In the meantime, she had won her Oscar, notionally for "The Country Girl," maybe the only movie in which she got to don the spectacles that she wore in regular life. (That misty, faraway look that she gave to Cary Grant? She really was faraway, from her myopic perspective, and it really was a mist.) But the award was for a stretch of hard labor, which had yielded five films in a year; in the words of Bob Hope, the master of ceremonies, "I just wanna say they should give a special award for bravery to the producer who produced a movie without Grace Kelly." When she won, she turned to Don Hartman, the Paramount executive sitting next to her, and said, "Are you sure? Are you sure?" No less incredulous was her father, watching on TV. "I simply can't believe Grace won," he said, still missing the point. The footage shows her gliding down to the stage in her pale sea-blue gown, as if on casters, tiny handbag hung from the crook of her arm: posture and motion, as Edmund Burke would say.

Highlights of the Kelly wardrobe are now on display in Rome. They include some of her most famous outfits, if you know the movies, yet without her inflection they are dead shells; in the Kelly universe, the soul needs the body as the body needs Edith Head, who dressed her for "Rear Window" and "To Catch a Thief." They also demonstrate, beyond doubt, that nothing about Kelly was more stylish than her decision to quit the movies just in time, before the gods of fashion lost the plot — or, at any rate, the reliance on line and structure that had flattered and fortified her particular poise. Some of her clothes from the nineteen-sixties and seventies, like an Yves Saint Laurent caftan in orange and pink, with a high, jewelled collar, are enough to make your eyes water, and what Head would have said about the albino squid that appeared to have landed on Princess Grace's scalp, in lieu of a hat, when she visited President and Mrs. Kennedy in 1962, I shudder to imagine. If you want to see Hollywood at the last gasp of its otherworldliness, before the old glory gave way, consult the photograph of Kelly and her fellow-presenter, Audrey Hepburn, backstage at the Academy Awards in 1956. (Kelly had returned to present an award.) Both are in profile, gazing in expectation, and both wear white gloves. They could be at their first Communion.

A month later, Kelly was on the S.S. Constitution, heading for the South of France. If you buy the heavy hints dropped by Wendy Leigh, in "True Grace: The Life and Times of an American Princess" (2007), Kelly found time on board to make loud intimate merriment with a photographer. And, a month after that, moviegoers in New York could go to see "The Wedding in Monaco," a half-hour documentary, in festive Cinemascope. The poster I saw for this, in Rome, had painted head shots of Rainier and Kelly, as if they were the stars of a feature film. And so the debate continues, even now: slavering man-eater or virgin bride? In truth, Grace Kelly owes her primal power to the gusto with which we go on telling stories about her, layering the carnal with the fairy-tale. If you are Spoto, for instance, you are swept away by her fling with Oleg Cassini, the designer, whom she almost married — a classic nineteen-fifties playboy, with his worm-thin mustache and walnut tan, like a weak-chinned Errol Flynn. In Rome, you can see his proposal, on a scrap of paper ("Io ti amo e ti voglio sposare"), and the handwriting is that of a nine-year-old, but Spoto is agog at Cassini's "almost princely demeanor and a courtly manner that usually left women breathless." That is how we think and write when our fancy is inflamed but our facts are weak, and, in Kelly's case, no one is immune. Alec Guinness, filming "The Swan" with Louis Jourdan, reported to his wife:

I've spent the evening with Louis and his wife, just the three of us, in scandalous gossip, mostly about Grace Kelly, who for all her sweetness we think is Miss Enigma 1955-1975.

In the event, the enigma lasted a while longer, till 1982. That was when her Rover crashed, with Princess Grace and her daughter Stéphanie inside. They had driven past the spot where Kelly enjoyed a flirtatious picnic in "To Catch a Thief," along the roads where her carefree handling of a sports car had petrified Cary Grant. The ghost of Hitchcock trailed her to the end, and rightly so; it was he who had summoned forth her unmistakable blend of yearning and reserve. If "Rear Window" outshines her other films, it is because, for once, she got to join in with the mythologizing: her character picks on another, a middle-aged man across the yard, and embroiders his existence, picking up every thread of detail, just as we do with Grace Kelly. That is why women, no less than men, devote themselves to her case; you don't desire her, but you urgently want to know what she desired, and what she longed to flee. The causes of love, we instinctively feel, ask to be loved back, which is why Don Hartman wrote to Grace Kelly, on July 23, 1954, after seeing "The Country Girl," and closed with a request: "In the next world, will you marry me?"