Cover Personality

by Grace Conway

Focus: A Film Review | November 1949

The name Tierney couldn’t be anything but Irish – and a dash of Irish is no drawback to anyone who lays claim to that elusive gift – personality. Through her father, then, Gene Tierney is a Celt – and like so many Americans, she counts other European strains in her ancestry – Spanish, Swedish, French. Just to accent this cosmopolitan mixture, she came to Switzerland just before the war to get “finished” in Lausanne. Her younger sister, Pat, has never forgiven Europe for getting into a war just as she was about to leave for Lausanne for the same purpose.

Gene Tierney has just finished a term of picture making in London. Her arrival was celebrated by a cocktail party at the Dorchester at which she appeared in a trim grey suit, a severely tailored white silk blouse, no hat. She proved on that occasion that she has an easy manner, is natural, unaffected and a good conversationalist.

What’s new in an American “star” being launched at a cocktail party, you might ask? Nothing, I would answer. But there was something new about this descent upon London, for Gene Tierney must be the very first “star” to arrive complete with an eight-months-old daughter. “She’s too young to leave behind,” announced Christina’s mother. And so baby and nurse and all the rest of the nursery equipment settled down at the Dorchester. Mother Gene has been going out to work every day, and Christina has been joining the parade of perambulators in Hyde Park with her nurse. “She has thrived in London,” her mother told me delightedly. “And has put on quite a lot of weight.”

The other member of this family is Daria, aged six, and waiting her mother’s return in California. Their father is Count Oleg Cassini who married Gene in 1941 and he contributes to the family budget by designing dresses and costumes for the movie industry – including those of his wife.

It might add some colour to this personality story if I could describe early struggles for fame and hanging round Hollywood soda fountains in order to catch the eye of some wandering talent scout. But it wouldn’t be true. For very soon after she appeared on the New York stage she was scooped up by the cinema industry and you have been seeing her at regular intervals ever since.

Some of her films are forgotten – some deserve to go into repertory. Like Laura and The Razor’s Edge. She’s ready and competent to play most types of roles – from Western stuff to tragedy with an occasional comedy thrown in. She seems to be able to don nationality with her makeup – an Arabian girl in Sundown (1941); a Eurasian in Shanghai Gesture; a Polynesian in Son of Fury; not to speak of the degenerate poor white in Tobacco Road. (Miss Tierney may want to forget this – I don’t know.) But whatever role she plays she gives the impression of understanding what she’s doing.

Occasionally the person pushing the pram in Hyde Park has been Miss Tierney herself – and who will blame her if there was a camera man watching. She has earned her publicity as a film actress who puts her family first.

The film just finished and which has largely been shot in the streets of London is called Night and the City. It makes the 20th Gene Tierney picture since 1940.