One of the truly great screen presences of the post-war era has passed. Patricia Neal died of “lung cancer at 11 a.m. Sunday at her Martha’s Vineyard home, surrounded by her family“. For someone who held her own against Gary Cooper in her second screen performance, which many of our reader’s will be delighted to know was the 1949 adaptation of Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead, her list of film roles was remarkably small, but when she had a good script and worked with a good director, she soared.
In her third picture, she acted opposite the Gipper in the enjoyable, but, well, not readily memorable . And she was brilliant in Hud, proving that not only could she hold the screen with a leading man of one generation (i.e., Cooper), but also with one of the next, Paul Newman. She both rivaled Newman for control of the screen and took home an Oscar for her performance — though perhaps not the night of the ceremony as she wasn’t present to receive her award. She outshone Andy Griffith in Elia Kazan‘s A Face in the Crowd, perhaps her strongest performance, and all but carried The Day the Earth Stood Still.
She may leave us with a small body of work, but it included many magnificent performances.
I always found her somewhat gravelly, yet sweet voice, her most distinguishing characteristic — it really got your attention.
FROM the Fountainhead: