best film: This category is almost impossible to answer for Vanessa Redgrave. The correct answer could be three films. The first that comes to mind is Michelangelo Antonioni’s genius 1966 film Blow-Up. Ken Russell’s controversial (but equally brilliant) film The Devils from 1971 is yet another fine choice. The third and final film may sneak up on some, but it is Joe Wright’s 2007 film Atonement. Vanessa Redgrave is only in a few minutes of the first (Blow-Up) and last (Atonement – playing the older Briony character in the epilogue) films mentioned but she plays a pivotal part of both (she is in some critical scenes). She is a bigger part of Russell’s gonzo stylistic sonic boom.
best performance: Redgrave as Sister Jeanne in Russell’s The Devils wins out. She is excellent in small part in Howards End (Marisa Tomei famously upset Redgrave for best supporting actress in 1992) so that performance wins the silver medal.
stylistic innovations/traits: Regal (a great match for Merchant Ivory films) and beautiful for sure, Vanessa Redgrave excels at playing characters of so called high breeding (often sort of evil) and wealth. The six-time Oscar nominee (winner for Julia) and two-time Cannes acting award winner (Morgan in 1966 and Isadora in 1968) is from another famous acting family. Her father is Michael Redgrave (Dead of Night), her sister is Lynn Redgrave (Georgy Girl) and her daughter is Natasha Richardson (perfectly cast as the bourgeoise heiress in Paul Schrader’s Patty Hearst). Redgrave is best at stealing crucial scenes in top tier films (it feels like she is in much more of Blow-Up than she actually is – and Redgrave’s bare back has to be cinema’s most famous … and then she disappears). She was tapped on the shoulder early by old Hollywood (working with Fred Zinnemann and Joshua Logan) working on prestige films and has worked steadily for decades (with an impressive sixteen archiveable films).
directors worked with: Fred Zinnemann (2), James Ivory (2), Michelangelo Antonioni (1), Ken Russell (1), Sidney Lumet (1), Brian De Palma (1), Joe Wright (1) and Bennett Miller (1)
top five performances:
- The Devils
- Howards End
- The Bostonians
- Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment
|1966- A Man for All Seasons|
|1966- Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment|
|1971- The Devils|
|1974- Murder on the Orient Express|
|1976- The Seven-Per-Cent Solution|
|1984- The Bostonians|
|1992- Howards End|
|1996- Mission Impossible|
|2001- The Pledge|
You mention The Devils in the same line as Blow up and Atonement and both films are near Masterpieces by your grading system. So is The Devils upgraded to a MS/ MP grade?
If so and as you have it as Redgrave’s career best performance then is that performance one of the best of 1971?
@M*A*S*H – Yes, so not too long ago I was able to view a decent enough version of The Devils and correct some errors on my side regarding the film and performance. These updates will be reflected on the 1971 page with the next update- along with a future Ken Russell page.
Did you get to Women in Love? If yes, what’s your verdict on it?
@MASH- Yes, I was able to get to a dozen Ken Russell films in the last few years. It is a step or two below The Devils- but still among the 2-3 best from Russell I was able to get to. Reed and Bates both give strong performances.
What about Glenda Jackson? She’s the one who won the Oscar?
@M*A*S*H- Yep, and Jennie Linden, too – the men get the meatier parts
I think Bates, Reed and Jackson are on the same level and Linden is a step lower.
By “It is a step or two below The Devils” Do you mean that it has a MS Or HR/ MS grade?
@M*A*S*H – HR
Can you picture Redgrave in Glenda Jackson’s role in Women in Love?
I sure can I think Redgrave will nail it. She’d be excellent.
@M*A*S*H- Interesting – yes, I can do that