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Teresa Wright (1918-2005)

  1. Anna Lee, Hangmen Also Die! 1942.  Change of Mascha, daughter of Walter Brennan’s professor in a WWII thriller based on the assassination of The Hangman of Europe: Reinhard Heydrich,  the Gestapo overlord of Bohemia-Moravia in Prague, by a Czech resistance fighter on May 29 1942…  leading to the the June 10 massacre and destruction of the people and town of Lidice. The film was  German playwright  Bertolt Brecht’s sole Hollywood credit.
  2. Anne Baxter, The North Star, 1943.     Between rehearsals, costume fittings and the start of shooting,  Teresa became pregnant. Producer Samuel Goldwyn was convinced her husband, his recently sacked screenwriter Niven Busch, arranged conception to avoid his wife having such a small role. 
  3. Jennifer Jones, The Song of Bernadette, 1943.    Wright, Mary Anderson, Anne Baxter, Linda Darnell, Lillian Gish, Beatrice Pearson, Ruth Quigley, Gene Tierney were all in the frame for  the  French girl who had a vision of the Virgin Mary at Lourdes in 1858. Finally, on December 9, 1942, Jones won “the plum role of the year” - which “introduced” her although she she had made two Republic movies under her real name, Phylis Isley. Now she was being shoved into stardom by her lover and future husband, Gone With The Wind producer David O Selznick.  (She was his very own Susan Alexander). To swing her the film, DOS offered to share her contract with Fox. Henry King directed tests by telling actresses  to look beyond the camera at a shining light.  Jones, said King, didn’t just look - she saw. Hence her Best Actress Oscar on March 2, 1944, although the film was not fully released until April 1945.
  4. Dorothy Maguire, The Enchanted Cottage, 1944.   The play was on Broadway soon after WWI. A film was made in 1923. Then, RKO bought rights for a re-make with Helen Twelvetrees… in 1929!   Ten years later, the plan was Ginger Rogers - a beauty as the unpretty heroine? Next, Wright in 1943…  In all, it took  this long for the harvest to be reaped. And even then, the New York Times critic Bosley Crowther put it down a “more of a horror film than a psychological romance.”
  5. Laraine Day, Those Endearing Young Charms, 1944.   Producer Sam Goldwyn bought the Jerome Chodorov play for Dana Andrews and Teresa Wright… or Joan Fontaine. He then sold it RKO, where director Lewis Allen chose Day and Robert Young.
  6. Jennifer Jones, Duel in the Sun, 1946.     Now they'd got  another  producer angry at them...  “Dammit, Busch,” yelled David Selznick. “she isn't the only one you screwed!” Niven Busch adapted his novel for his wife  to go against  type  as the sensual half-breed  Pearl  Chavez - with John Wayne as her wham-bang-thank-ya-ma'am lover. Busch mistimed Teresa's sensuality at home. She was pregnant again. So was the movie... with eight directors,  26 hours and 13 minutes of film, and a budget of $4.5m more than Selznick's Gone With The Wind!  All for Selznick to prove  his lover, Jennifer, was great in  the sack, too.
  7. Loretta Young, The Bishop's Wife, 1947.     She was Wright from the get go. But producer Sam Goldwyn didn't like how  things were  going. He sacked helmer William A Seiter, shut down the movie for re-tooling with director Henry Koster -  by which time Teresa was visibly pregnant with her daughter, Mary Kelly Busch.
  8. Susan Hayward, My Foolish Heart, 1949.    She was announced, then  dropped - not just from the film but also her contract with producer Sam Goldwyn. Author JD Salinger hated the adaptation and  refused anyother  films to be made of his  work. 
  9. Ida Lupino, On Dangerous Ground, 1950.     Also in the snowy mountains frame for the blind Mary were Lauren Bacall, Olivia de Havilland, Faith Domergue Susan Hayward, Wanda Hendrix, Deborah Kerr, Janet Leigh, Margaret Sullavan, Jane Wyman - and Broadway newcomer Margaret Phillips. RKO chose well. Because, although un-credited, Lupino also co-directed the noir thriller with Nicholas Ray. In all, she helmed 41 films and TV shows during 1949-1968 when Hollywood women were just supposed to pout, pirouette and pucker up.
  10. Shelley Winters, Night Of The Hunter,  1954.    In  his one and only - and classic - directing assignment. Charles Laughton was full of surprises.  Choosing Robert Mitchum as a hymn-singing, widow-slaying psycho with LOVE and HATE tattooed on his knuckles - then discussing the docile Willa with both the pin-up queen and the decidedly non-pinned-up Wright. 
  11. Constance Ford, A Summer Place, 1958.    Wright and Olivia de Havilland were seen but, frankly,  the role did not need a star. Helen Jorgenson was not The Other Woman, but the Dropped Wife.  As her  hubby Richarrd Egan rekindled an old romance with Dorothy McGuire, his son and her daughter (Troy Donahue, Sandra Dee) started one… during  Max Steiner’s lushest theme since Tara’s in Gone With The Wind, 1938. 




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