Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Julie Harris in "The Member Of The Wedding"

Julie Harris received her only Oscar nomination, for playing Frankie, a 12 year old girl, in The Member Of The Wedding.

Julie Harris is one of the most respected actresses in history. But, if you watched The Member Of The Wedding, you'd have a hard time believing that.

Frankie is 12 years old, and she is lonely. She is tormented by girls her own age, her mother is dead, and her father virtually pays no attention to her. She spends her time talking to her maid in the kitchen, and making plans on being taken away by her brother after his wedding.

Let's start with the obvious. Julie Harris, a woman of almost 30, is not convincing as a 12 year old tomboy, at all. Even if you didn't know Julie Harris was this age, it's still obvious from her grown up appearance, that is always forced upon us in the movie. They know it's hard to believe that Harris is believable as 12 year old, yet they still force her into the audience. It just doesn't work.
When I first saw Wedding, I was shocked at how utterly bombastic Julie Harris is. In every scene, she redefines "scenery chewing". Constantly mugging at the camera, constantly doing strange things like cutting splinters out of her feet with a huge knife or hitting herself with her hand and crying, it's all, how you say, overacting?

I could see how some could be so drawn to this performance. It's odd, and I myself am attracted to performance that have a certain quirkiness or oddness about it, but this is not one.

I also somewhat believed all of this strange behavior was supposed to be apart of her upcoming departure into womanhood. The writer's vision of a strange young, lonely girl going through a stage of extreme angst. When I look at it that way, some of the eccentric behavior betrayed by Harris, sort of makes sense. But, it's hard to deny this performance borders on terrible.

Even in her quietest moments, staring off into space, very depressed looking, Harris still messes it up, by overdoing it. Julie Harris is playing Frankie as if she was a grown up. It sounds like a good idea given the character, but given the performance, it doesn't.

Julie Harris gives a wildly loud, over the top performance that doesn't work from the word go. It's hard to believe Tatum O'Neal was just 9 when she brought such a strong energy to her performance as a "grown up" smart child in Paper Moon. Julie Harris at 27, doesn't understand her 12 year old character. Maybe it worked on the stage, but the screen performance is terrible.

10 comments:

joe burns said...

Wow, two stars! There seems to be nothing positive about her performance!

Louis Morgan said...

I expected as much.

Sage Slowdive said...

I was being EXTREMELY dangerous.

joe burns said...

You mean generous? Ha ha.

Sage Slowdive said...

LOL, yes...god, don't what I was thinking.

joe burns said...

Ha ha. I can't wait for your thoughts on Crawford and Hayward!

joe burns said...

Did Booth have any competition this year?

Sage Slowdive said...

My guess is no, maybe Joan.

Fritz said...

Booth swept from Cannes to New York to LA, so I doubt that there was any danger for her win.

Malcolm said...

Well, this seems really odd. 30 year old plays 12 years old? Weird. Totally weird.

Unless you're Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz (I don't know her age when I first watched the movie so I thought she was really a child) or even Carey Mulligan in An Education (I bought every minute of her high school life), I don't think it's really possible. And, yeah, Stockard Channing looked high school for me in Grease.

A very long comment from me. I haven't seen this yet, but it's just.... the age gap is so obvious! This is very intriguing, Sage!

Great write-up! I guess this will put Marion above a bit.

Can't wait to see Booth! I love her in Sheba. But she's the only one I saw that year.