Monday, August 26, 2013

Goodbye Aubra, Goodbye Eleanor

Stage and film actress Julie Harris died on Aug 24. She was 87. Harris was the kind of actor who just does the damn work, and as a result, turned in many great performances.

She wasn't a movie star, but one peep at her IMDB resume shows how much she worked during a six-decade career. That's right: six decades.

Chances are you've seen her in something and maybe didn't know who she was. Two excellent places to start watching Harris and paying attention to how quietly she slides into roles and really soars with the material are two of her most well-known:

East of Eden - James Dean's screen debut and the little mumbler couldn't have asked for a better female lead. Harris plays Aubra, a thoughtful farm girl who can't decide if she loves Dean's tortured youth or his brother, played by Richard Davalos, who is dad's favorite. The film isn't about Aubra, it's about the brothers. But Harris delivers as an almost mythical love interest, too kind and too in love to hurt either boy, which only complicates the familial battle.

The Haunting - Hands down, this movie is one of the best horror films ever made, anywhere, and every single member of The Typing Monkey staff will fight any jerk in the bar who says otherwise. And what's key to this terrifying, theatrical masterpiece? Julie Harris. She doubts everything, mostly herself. She's wound up and may be psychic, and holy balls, the walls just took a breath.

Like we said, these two are probably her most famous film roles, and there's a reason for that. She takes good material and elevates it with her performance, making them better, greater. If you've not seen them, they're easy to come by and seeing them will make you more interesting at parties.

Thank you Ms. Harris.