rejectomorph (flying_blind) wrote,

Here's To You, Mrs. Robinson

Looking through Anne Bancroft's filmography, I was a bit surprised at how few of her movies I've seen. She has loomed larger in my thoughts than my limited exposure to her work might suggest. This may be the result of the fact that the first movie in which I remember seeing her was The Miracle Worker. Her turn as Annie Sullivan, Helen Keller's teacher, was one of the classic performances of the era, and the impression it left on me has endured. I saw the movie at a time when I had only recently begun to go to movies on my own, wandering far from the confines of my suburban neighborhood, and The Miracle Worker's portrayal of perseverance and determination in pursuit of liberation, despite both opposition from others and one's own very real limitations, was, though I wasn't conscious of it at the time, a particularly apt parallel to my own situation, however much my situation differed in degree from that of the tale's protagonists. As I sat in the fading grandeur of the Palace Theater in downtown Los Angeles, watching the austere, black and white scenes flicker on the screen, I must have absorbed some part of that determination which Anne Bancroft's performance so splendidly conveyed. I'm sure I wasn't the only one.

Since then, I've seen a handful of the movies in which she had supporting roles, and a few in which she played a lead character, including The Prisoner of Second Avenue, To Be or Not to Be, and, of course, The Graduate. I have to admit to not being a fan of this last movie, despite its iconic status with most members of my generation. Personally, I'd have much preferred to see a movie entirely about Mrs. Robinson. I've always considered Bancroft's performance to be the best in the movie.

Anne Bancroft also played a lead role in 84 Charing Cross Road, a movie which was released in 1987, but wasn't a big success at the time. Long neglected, this tale based on Helene Hanff's memoir of her long relationship (through correspondence) with a London bookshop clerk, now appears frequently on cable television, and gave Bancroft one of her most engaging roles. It's very sweet, and sad, and amusing. Don't miss it. There are also a few of Bancroft's earlier movies, in which she has supporting roles, which are worth seeing, and I would especially recommend the noirish New York Confidential, from 1955. Looking at her filmography, I see that there are quite a few of her films that I've never seen but would like to see. I know that, even when I haven't much liked a particular movie in which she has appeared, I have always been able to count on her performance to bring some interest to it. I think I'll be watching more of her work in the future and, again, I'm sure I won't be the only one.

Anne Bancroft

1931 - 2005

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