Saturday, September 02, 2017

Jessica Tandy in Camilla

Jessica Tandy stark naked at 84 or 85 in Camilla

To my knowledge, she is the oldest mainstream actress to perform a nude scene.

Camilla is the story of the friendship between an eccentric elderly violinist and a young woman who aspires to write music. The elderly woman (Jessica Tandy) looks back upon her yellowed clippings and draws upon her ancient memories as part of the process of imparting her wisdom to the young 'un, so it plays out sort of like Titanic Light. The acting is terrific, although the movie itself is kind of an artificial three-hanky chick-flick, and plays out like a TV movie of the week. As an example of the contrived melodrama, Ms. Tandy finds the long-lost love of her life before the end of the film, and does so almost by accident. And at her age, long-lost is very long indeed.

The most unusual and probably the most memorable element of the film is Jessica Tandy doing the only nude scene of her career. She was at least 84 when she did the scene, and she had died by the time the film was released.

"Hey, that isn't beautiful or sexy, Scoop"

No, of course it isn't sexy, but beautiful ... well, "beautiful" is more complicated.

Ms Tandy was one of the great stage actresses of the 20th century, and owned a film resume that spanned 63 years and included a Best Actress Oscar. She was a great and gutsy woman who continued to perform as long as she could stand, and continued to do so very well. Brilliantly, in fact.

Tandy knew she was dying when she made this movie.

She and her husband of 52 years, Hume Cronyn, appeared together in this film, knowing it would be the last of the thousands of times they shared the spotlight on the stage or screen. During the film, Tandy and Cronyn spoke this line aloud to each other (It's a quote from Sea Fever by John Masefield):

"And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over".

Then she stripped down and did the only nude scene of her long career, in a sense completing her resume.

If that isn't beautiful, then what is?

1 comment:

  1. I'm going to go with yeah, that's so beautiful. Like when Karl Malden passed and the obit ran through his long, impressive acting career. Then at the end, they just throw in, He is survived by his wife of 78 years. Not his 78-year-old wife - they were married for 78 years.
    The only thing more beautiful would be if neither of them died.