Tuesday, April 20, 2010

tragedy and comedy

last night, in between writing chapters, i watched part of the 1944 film Laura.
it's the kind of old film i love, filled with cliched characters: the brooding masculine detective, the beautiful and somewhat mysterious female lead, her charismatic yet immature fiance, and the older man-of-the-world who not so secretly loves her.

gene tierney plays the title role, and she is quite beautiful and alluring. i didn't know much about her as an actress, so i did some googling. i skimmed over the basics, like where she was born and how she began her career. what did catch my eye, however, was that she contracted rubella while pregnant at her only appearance at the hollywood canteen. as a result her daughter was born prematurely - deaf, partially blind and severely mentally retarded. years later at a tennis party a woman approached gene tierney and confessed that although sick with rubella, she'd snuck out of quarantine against her doctor's orders just so she could meet her favorite actress at the hollywood canteen.
i can only imagine the flurry of emotions running through gene tierney at that moment. i'm sure a part of her wanted to kill that woman who claimed to be her fan. a part of her must have felt relief that her daughter's condition was not her fault. there must have been a part that mourned for the normal life her daughter almost had.

my heart broke for her when i thought of her in that moment, facing the woman who had unknowingly changed two lives forever.

agatha christie used this incident in her mystery The Mirror Crack'd, and i can't blame her for using this story because it's so dramatic it almost seems like something out of a greek tragedy. but i don't know if i'd ever have skin thick enough to weave someone's true pain into a work of fiction.

and for the bit of comedy: did any of you read about this? just goes to show that spellcheck alone isn't always enough. wonder where the copy editor was on this one.


Christine Fletcher said...

Laura is one of my favorite old movies, but I never knew that about Gene Tierney. I wonder what on earth she said in reply to that careless woman's confession.

Thanks for digging, and for sharing this. Fascinating stuff.

mi said...

christine - according to her autobiography, she just looked at the woman then turned and left without saying anything to her, which doesn't surprise me. how do you find the words just seconds after hearing such a shocking revelation?
btw, i am no longer blogging anonymously!

Random Thinker said...

Haven't seen this movie. The Gene Tierny story is sad and tragic. One stupid, selfish and thoughtless decision made by somebody else affects you for the rest of your life. The woman couldn't have known about Gene's daughter when she made the confession. Could she have?

mi said...

random thinker - i'm not sure if she knew about gene tierney's daughter. i know at some point it was public (that's how agatha christie found out about it), but i'm not sure if the rubella women knew at that time or not. if she did, it just makes her that much more horrid.

Sling said...

I would have strangled her..

mi said...

sling - she would've deserved it.

Creepy Query Girl said...

I've never seen this movie (I know, shame on me) but after hearing your descriptions, im gonna have to!

mi said...

creepy query girl - i love your name!
this movie is well worth your time. especially if you love old movies.

Nishant said...

The woman couldn't have known about Gene's daughter when she made the confession. Could she have?
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