Mark's Best Actress Challenge

…In relentless pursuit of all performances nominated and won!

Maggie McNamara in “The Moon is Blue” (nomination, 1953)

Ever heard of Maggie McNamara?  Neither had I, really.  A cute, pert actress who would instantly put you in mind of Audrey Hepburn, she lost her one and only Actress nomination in 1953’s charming romantic comedy, The Moon is Blue, to Ms. Hepburn herself in her breakout role in Roman HolidayThe Moon is Blue was a landmark – and surprisingly taboo – film in its time for its frank discussion and mention of the word, “virgin” (gasp!).

McNamara plays the late twentysomething virgin in question, Patty O’Neill, who is seduced by the charms of handsome architect Donald Gresham (William Holden).  Much of the film is a cute play and banter between these two very gifted actors, directed by the great Otto Preminger.  The buildup causes us to question whether Patty will eventually succumb to temptation and allowed herself to love and be loved.  McNamara turns in a witty and winning performance as Patty – a role she originally performed onstage in the stage play of the same name.  At times rather talky, she makes her character endearing and sweet – if not a touch frustrating.  You can understand the exasperation Holden and David Niven, playing Holden’s neighbor, face as they attempt to seduce her and get nothing but heavy-handed discussion about sexual morals of the day.

According to Wikipedia (not always a trustworthy source, granted), The Moon is Blue was instrumental in breaking down the holds of the Production Code.  It may seem tame by today’s standards, indeed, but it is a classic definitely worth another look – if anything for a fun, frolicsome film to enjoy on a Sunday afternoon.  For an actress of such apparent promise, McNamara performed in only 3 more major motion pictures and a small handful of television shows.  Sadly, she suffered from mental illness and died of apparent suicide in 1978 at the young age of 49.

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This entry was posted on December 17, 2010 by .
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