This blog post will help you enjoy the December 9, 2010 “Meet Me at the Movies” screening of The Bishop’s Wife (1946). The film starred two of the most famous faces in Hollywood: Loretta Young and Cary Grant. Apart from their acting abilities, Young and Grant were glamorous movie stars who crafted and protected their images on film as well as in their private lives.
The Faces of Beauty
Both Loretta Young and Cary Grant were known as much for their classic movie star looks as their acting abilities. Young, a star since the days of silent films, is considered one of the screen’s great beauties. Her big expressive eyes and lovely cheekbones made her a photographer’s dream. Grant’s was the face that the top female stars of the 1930s wanted next to theirs on the big screen.
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall…
When Young and Grant costarred together in The Bishop’s Wife (1947), audiences were faced with two of the most beautiful and most photographed faces in the movies. With those two great faces on the screen side by side, the question comes up; who is the most beautiful of all?
Dressed to Impress
In the film, Grant plays a very dashing angel named Dudley. Dressed by five-time Oscar-winner Irene Sharaff, Grant looked as if he just walked off the set of Hitchcock’s Notorious (1946). He’s as dapper as, well, Cary Grant. Young on the other hand, plays Julia Brougham, the wife of a Bishop (David Niven). Throughout the movie, Young is dressed modestly, but beautifully. Likewise, her hairstyle is pulled back, simply styled, but framing that beautiful, luminous face.
Like the public that adored them, Young and Grant were aware of their respective good looks and did all they could to present themselves on screen in the best way possible. The story goes that when director Henry Koster blocked out a two-shot between Young and Grant, both protested that the blocking did not exploit the best sides of their faces. To appease the two stars, Koster had them look out a window in the same direction. This shot satisfied Young and Grant because their best sides (the left sides of their faces) were photographed.
I’m not Paying for Half a Face!
When producer Samuel Goldwyn saw the dailies (film shot that day), he was critical of Koster’s decision to shoot the scene in such a manner. When Koster asked Young and Grant to explain why the shot was set up and filmed that way, Goldywn let go with one of his famous “Goldwynisms.” He said to both stars “Look, if I’m only getting half a face, you’re only getting half a salary!” Young and Grant, both being freelance movie stars and not contracted to a major movie studio were also conscious of workplace politics.
After that confrontation with the boss, the subject of what sides of their faces looked better on film never came up again.
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