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Constance Collier (1878-1955)

  1. Violet Kemble Cooper, Vanessa:  Her Love Story, 1934.          One regal Brit for another… In the fifth of her eight films (after David Copperfield and before Romeo and Juliet), Cooper was Lady Herries, mother of the man Vanessa loved, lost and found again.
  2. Alison Skipworth The Casino Murder Case, 1934.        Four films as SS Van Dine’s (actually, Willard Huntington Wright’s) snobbish, cynical, bored, supercilious, dilettante detective Philo Vance was enough for William Powell. He refused this one, So did Collier. She felt her Mrs Llewellyn was too close to her previous rôle in  Shadow of Doubt - Hitchcock’s favourite of his films. Alison skipped over from Paramount. Rosalind Russell (who played Doris Reed) said the film was so bad - and so was she.
  3. Billie Burke, The Wizard of Oz, 1938.
  4. Lucile Watson, Little Women, 1948.       When producer David Selznick cancelled his project, Mervyn LeRoy took it to MGM and changed his entire cast - excepting Elizabeth Patterson as Hannah. Collier’s amazing career covered six decades (she started at three !) as  Broadway and West End tragedienne, working with  DW Griffith and Alfred Hitchcock, playing all the  countesses and duchesses from Oscar Wilde’s Lady Markby to Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth, close friends with Katharine Hepburn (who inherited her secretary) and frama coach to many, notably Mariilyn Monroe.

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