September 17, 2010
When I made my "Top 20 Favorite" lists last winter, there were plenty of people that I accidentally left off (omissions) and scores of people I was yet to discover (additions) -- over the next few months I'll be doing Additions & Omissions posts for some of my new-found or forgotten favorites who didn't quite make it to my favorites list last year.
First up is Anne Bancroft. I only discovered her this past February when Millie wrote an awesome post about The Slender Thread. I'd seen her in The Kid From Left Field since my dad makes us watch every baseball movie that comes on TCM, but other than that I hadn't watched a single movie that she starred in. But I consider The Slender Thread to be my introduction to Anne, and it's probably the best introduction one can have!
Although, just when I thought that couldn't be topped, I saw The Prisoner of Second Avenue (1975) starring Anne and Jack Lemmon. It was kind of like The Out of Towners, only they were living in New York instead of visiting and Jack Lemmon was married to Anne Bancroft instead of Sandy Dennis and the events in the film have a much darker lining. Everything that can go wrong does, and throughout the movie the stars go through huge waves of subtle comedy, hysteria, depression and exasperation. Depending on your own personal situation (my own family is having a very tough time with this recession) you might find it all-too relevant, some 35 years after it was released. But it isn't just because of the situations in the film and the fact that we're facing a similar economic upheaval -- Anne Bancroft and Jack Lemmon bring a level of familiarity and empathy to their roles that makes all of the intervening years disappear.
And I think that's what I like most about Anne Bancroft -- the fact that she makes it so easy to relate to her characters and really makes her performances an open door into her character's soul. I wish desperately that she had spent more time in front of the movie camera; her filmography is so depressingly sparse.