Sunday, August 1, 2010

Jeanne Crain in "Pinky"

Jeanne Crain received her only Oscar nomination for playing Patricia Johnson a.k.a. Pinky.

Pinky is a ridiculously awful film about a light skinned, young black woman, who returns home from college to help out her grandmother. This movie is wanting to say something so bad, it all ends coming out like vomit. And most of the problems can be traced to one person in particular...

Jeanne Crain plays Pinky, a smart, poor girl who finally got to get away from the swamp and make something out of life. Now, let's start with the obvious: Jeanne Crain, a pale white woman, is no light skinned black woman. It's as simple and offensive as that. Where there no black actresses around to play Pinky, at least, it would have some sort of creditability.

Now, the not so obvious: Jeanne Crain's inability to act. The ridiculousness of the story is there, and Crain seems to regale in it. Watching her get nearly molested and look like she's enjoying it, yet say "stop it", does this make sense for anyone. Or seeing her scream "I'm a Negro!!!" in the least convincing way possible, not to mention it looks silly since here's a white, very white actress scream these lines about being a black person. The best way to put it, she's on one singular note, if she's being warm with her grandmother or trying to defend herself in court, she stays the same. No emotion, no technique, and most importantly, no critique.

Jeanne Crain certainly could never overcome the ludicrous miscasting of being a white actress playing a black woman, but certainly she could have had more then one emotion in this movie, that didn't involve scrawling her face for 2 hours. She more or less does nothing in connecting Pinky's real feelings with the audience, instead relying on the audience to figure them out for themselves. In the end, Jeanne Crain gives a ridiculously bad performance, that shouldn't even be mentioned in the same breath as an Academy Award.


Louis Morgan said...

Sounds quite terrible, sounds worse than young.

joe burns said...

She'll probably be fifth. I think your ranking will be:

1. Olivia

2. Susan

3. Deborah

4. Young

5. Crain

Celso said...

What did you think about Barrymore and Waters?

Sage Slowdive said...

I'll review them both in the distant future :)

Malcolm said...

This really sounds like a very terrible performance. But still higher than Witherspoon. Why?

Sage Slowdive said...

There is a very small space between them, but there was one scene in particular, very early in the film with Ethel Waters, where Crain is able to show some connection to her character, which explains her higher, but still low rating.

Canadian Classics Fan said...

I had the same reaction to the performance when I saw it a few weeks ago ... miscast and one-note. I wonder if the Academy gave her the nomination for showing "courage" in playing a black woman?

If you're not impressed with Susan Hayward, this really will be a de Havilland blow out!

Sage Slowdive said...

It could have been...her movie was also a hit with the Academy.