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DarkMarc Jul 27

Rosalind Russell was usually known for her comedic talent but as the 1940s progressed Russell sought out roles that challenged her both as an actress and as a person and receiving the acclaim she deserved. Rosalind Russell had gone from being typecast as a pallid ingenue to being typecast as a knockabout comedienne. And while Roughly Speaking had plenty of comedy, Russell proved, with Director Michael Curtiz's help, that she also had the considerable dramatic range the role required. In an interview at the time, the director said that, along with Ingrid Bergman, Russell was "one of the finest actresses in Hollywood. No phony, no fake, no fool the audience." For her part, Russell spoke fondly of the notoriously volatile Hungarian, calling him "a soft pushover when he's off the set, away from the camera. A perfectionist, a terribly hard-working, able, ambitious man driven by a love for his work." Roughly Speaking was a cluttered scrapbook (I don't mean that in a negative way) based on the memoir of Louise Randall Pierson. Rosalind Russell’s character begins life as a daughter of a well-to-do New England patriarch in the early days of the 20th Century. When Father dies leaving debts, Miss Russell hitches her star to secretarial school (where the prim lady dean reprimands her for wearing a skirt that shows her ankles) and begins a wild ride of feast or famine for the next several decades. Her first husband is a banker, a bit of a quiet drudge, but very stable, at least until he decides, after their fourth child is born, that he doesn’t love her. He leaves her. Russell meets a new beau, played by Jack Carson with that wonderful deft way he had of playing both a good guy and a rogue. Mr. Carson doesn’t mind that she’s an independent woman or that she has four kids. They have a great chemistry on screen and play well off each other. They look like they’re having fun. One business booms, then busts. Many events take place as the years roll in the march of time. All of her children contract polio, all but one make a full recovery and the little girl that is affected, we see her struggle with how the early paralysis and later how she able to walk with a brace and a cane. Russell and Carson now a child of their own. A newsboy brings a big black headline to their porch that announces the Great Crash and soon to follow the Great Depression, we then hear the stoic comment by Carson, “I guess the party’s over.” But there is still the underlying all-American optimism that makes them bounce off the canvas, continuing to feed on the faith they have in themselves and their own ingenuity over a montage of “Brother Can You Spare a Dime?” and “We’re In The Money.” At Russell’s 50th birthday party, where all the grown kids come home to help her eat cake and sing the Yale fight song, Rosalind Russell looks up from blowing out her candles to notice out the window over the fairgrounds that the Polish pavilion has turned off its lights. It’s a brief, but quietly dramatic moment in the film. Young people seeing this film for the first time might not be aware of the significance of the statement, but it signals the beginning of World War II when Germany invaded Poland. But the war puts the whole family on active duty. We have the final iconic scene where the boys are leaving at the train station, and the youngest, just 17, hands Mother and Father the permission slip for him to join the service. Afterward, the two aging empty-nesters sitting on the bench in the train station while the camera pulls back and they are lost in a crowd that threatens to swallow them up. Roughly Speaking ends on a note of optimism that Louise and Harold will go on. But even though Roughly Speaking was not a huge hit, it was generally well-received, and was an important film for Rosalind Russell. Based on her excellent performance in Roughly Speaking, and her rapport with Curtiz, Rosalind Russell was considered the leading contender to play Mildred Pierce (1945), Curtiz's next film. But Joan Crawford, who had recently been signed to a contract by Warner Brothers, lobbied hard to win the part. Even though Russell didn't play Mildred, the range she showed in Roughly Speaking did help her get a string of heavily dramatic roles, including her Academy Award nominated one in Mourning becomes Electra (RKO, 1947) and in the only Noir Russell would film The Velvet Touch (RKO, 1948).

Jacqualyn Hession Jan 14, 2010

One of the screen`s great leading ladies ...Auntie Mame can never be outdown...

Lilis A Sep 20, 2008

Ms Russell was actually Irish-American Catholic not Polish Catholic

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