It is about time for me to write my feedback for the Dolores Hart’s Films Marathon. It was a short marathon as I watched seven of her films but it seems to me that it lasted forever! The best thing I discovered about Dolores Hart when I watched those films is the fact that, not only she was a talented actress, but that she was also a truly versatile one. As some of you may know, Dolores Hart is today known as Mother Dolores Hart. In 1963, this lady who was on the right track to become an iconic Hollywood star decided to quit her life as an actress to become a nun. She is, since, a Roman Catholic nun at the Abbaye of Regina Laudis in the Connecticut. Dolores Hart was known as the “new Grace Kelly”. She, indeed, looked a lot like her. Like Hitchcock’s favourite blonde, she had a short film career but for different reasons. In 2012, she attended the Oscars Ceremony because God Is the Bigger Elvis, a movie about her, was nominated for Best Documentary. Mother Dolores is also a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (A.M.P.A.S). So, she hasn’t completely quit the cinema life. In 2013, she published her autobiography, The Ear of the Heart, co-written with Richard DeNeut.
Now, it’s time for us to explore some of her films and to see how a great actress she was!
Film 1: Loving You (Hal Kanter 1957)
Role: Susan Jessup
Loving You was the first of two movies starring Dolores Hart and Elvis Presley. It was the first kiss between the king and the princess. It was Dolores Hart’s second film (the first one was “Ambre”), but it was the first one where she was credited. When she starred in it as the lovely Susan, Dolores Hart was only about 19-20! She doesn’t have a leading role in this film (the main female character was played by Lizabeth Scott), but we certainly notice her. Loving You is a simple musical. Deke Rivers (Elvis Presley), a delivery man who also has a wonderful talent to sing, is discovered by Glenda Markle (Lizabeth Scott), a publicist, and Tex Warner (Wendell Corey), a country-western musician. Glenda who sees his musical potential asks him to join the Tex Warner Show. He then starts his musical career, not without any problems. In the story, Dolores Hart plays a singer in the band. Her on-screen appearances are not numerous, but they are those we remember the best. One of the most beautiful ones is when she invites Elvis (Deke) to her parent’s farm in the country. There is now a real romance between the two. I also liked the moment when she and Elvis go to an amusement park. However, the scene where Dolores Hart really proves us that she has talent is when she makes a speech revealing to the audience waiting for a Deke Rivers’s show that he is not here to sing for them. In this scene, Dolores Harts puts so much emotion and energy in her speech. She is really incredible. Loving You is a nice film, not the best movie of all time, but if you like Elvis and want to see a lovely Dolores Hart on screen, I will immediately recommend it to you.
Film 2: Lonelyhearts ( Vincent J. Donehue, 1958)
Role: Justy Sergeant
The cast of Lonelyhearts is certainly one we don’t forget: Montgomery Clift, Myrna Loy, Robert Ryan, Maureen Stapleton, Jackie Coogan and, of course, the one and only Dolores Hart. One more time, as it was only her fourth film, Dolores Hart didn’t have the biggest part in this film, but it was certainly a little more important than the one she had in Loving You. I have to say, from films to films, Dolores Hart’s talent was beautifully growing. As much as she was great in Loving You, she was even better in Lonelyhearts. This film tells the story of Adam White (Montgomery Clift) who dreams to work for the Chronicle (a newspaper). In a bar, he meets William Shrike (Robert Ryan), Editor-in-Chief of the Chronicle and his wife Florence (Myrna Loy). He convinces him to work for the Chronicle, but he is hired for the “Miss Lonelyhearts” section of the newspaper and has to answer to reader exposing their life problems. This is certainly not the kind of job he was expecting. Dolores Hart plays his girlfriend, a girlfriend who loves him tenderly. Here, Dolores Hart acts her part with such softness. It’s beautiful. She had to play a character who sees and understand the world with her heart and she did a fine job.
Film 3: King Creole (Michael Curtiz, 1958)
It’s always worthy to watch some of Michael Curtiz’s films as he was one of the greatest movie directors of all times (Casablanca, Mildred Pierce, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Yankee Doodle Dandy, etc.). King Creole was one of his last films. This was the second and last film starring Dolores Hart and Elvis Presley. Elvis was more talented as a singer than as an actor, but, I must admit, he did a pretty good job in this film. Carolyn Jones and Walter Matthau, two wonderful stars, also starred in this picture. King Creole takes place in New-Orlean. Elvis Presley plays the part of Danny Fisher, a boy who loves music more than school. One day, he is kicked out of his school and becomes a singer at the “King Creole”. I have to be honest, I remember the film, but I don’t really remember Dolores Hart in it. The leading female role was played by Carolyn Jones and Dolores Hart had a really small part. It was somehow similar to the one in Loving You, lovely and sensitive.
Film 4: Francis of Assisi (Michael Curtiz, 1961)
That was another Michael Curtiz’s film starring Dolores Hart. Was she about to become his new Olivia de Havilland? Remember, the legendary actress starred in no less than EIGHT Michael Curtiz’s films! Francis of Assisi tells the story of Francis Bernardone (Bradford Dillman), the son of a cloth merchant. He and his family live in Assisi, Italy. After hearing a voice several times, God’s voice, he decides to dedicate himself to Him. Well, that’s the story of St. Francis. Dolores Hart plays the part of Clare, a young aristocratic lady. Francis and Count Paolo of Vandria (Stuart Whitman) are both in love with her, but Clare decides, towards the end of the film, to become a nun. This scene where she becomes a nun is quite special. What’s also unique about Francis of Assisi is the fact that it kind of predicted Dolores Hart’s real life because she really became a nun as I told you sooner. The question is, does this film had a big influence on her life’s choices? Well, as I haven’t read her autobiography yet, the reasons why she decides to dedicate herself to God are still mysterious to me. I don’t think she became a nun mainly because of this film, but it probably had a certain influence. Dolores Hart made four other films after this one. Getting better and better, Dolores Hart was unbelievable in this film. She plays a sweet, but strong girl and does it with a lot of sensitivity. Her chemistry with Bradford Dillman is great and she is more beautiful than ever. The movie itself was not my favourite one, but I must admit that there were moments in it I’ll shall never forget. Of course, I told you about this crucial moment when Clare becomes a nun. Also, one of my favourite parts is when Francis builds a new church and he collects rocks all around the town.
Film 5: The Inspector, A.K.A Lisa (Phillip Dunne, 1962)
Role: Lisa Held
Dolores Hart finally had a really big part in this film and, I must say, this was, for sure, one of her best performances. I think she should have been nominated for an Oscar! The film takes place in Holland in 1946. Lisa Held (Dolores Hart) is a survivor of Auschwitz. She is followed by an ex-nazi who had promised to take her to Palestine where she wants to go. However, the ex-Nazi is no one else than a white slaver who has the horrible plan to send her to South America. Fortunately, Peter Jungian (Stephen Boyd), an inspector investigates on the situation. After the ex-Nazi’s accidental death, Peter makes arrangements to take Lisa to Palestine. One of Lisa’s dreams is to find the tank with a star of David on it. She saw it during her escape from the concentration camp. Dolores Hart is really heartbreaking in this film. They are scenes where she (well, Lisa) panics and cries all the tears of her body because she is put in a situation that reminds her the concentration camp. Those moments are sad but really poignant. Dolores Hart played the part of Lisa with so much strength and sincerity. We saw she took her job seriously and gave all she got to be great. It worked. Her team work with Stephen Boyd was also excellent. I was happy to see a film with him in a leading role. I had seen him in Ben Hur before. He was a great actor. What kind of amazed me about Dolores Hart in this film is the fact that she looked younger than she was in Loving You. Maybe that’s because of her haircut and the way she’s dressed up. Anyway, if you want to see a truly talented Dolores Hart, watch this film.
Film 6: Come Fly with Me (Henry Levin, 1963).
Role: Donna Stuart
“Come Fly with Me, let’s fly let’s fly away…” everybody knows this song popularized by Frank Sinatra. Come Fly with Me was Dolores Hart’s last film before she became a nun. I must say, among all her films (well, the ones I watched), this is the one I liked the most. It was a delightful comedy, very “early 60’s” and retro (the lovely costumes!). Just the way I like it. Also, I have always liked movies where planes are the main subject (Airport, The Aviator, Three Guys Names Mike, The Spirit of St. Louis, etc.). Donna Stuart (Dolores Hart), Carol Brewster (Pamela Tiffin) and Hilda “Bergie” Bergstrom (Lois Nettleton) are three air hostesses working for Polar Atlantic Airways (a fictional airline). From New-York to Paris, from Paris to Vienna, they all meet love. Donna meets Franz Von Elzingen (Karlheinz Böhm), a fake baron who is, in reality, a diamond smuggler. Carol falls in love with Ray Winsley (Hugh O’Brien), the plane’s First Officer. Unfortunately, this one has an affair with another woman. Hilda meets Walter Lucas (Karl Malden), a Texan millionaire widower. He falls in love with her, but that’s not so easy for the two of them. I love the cast of Come Fly With Me. It was the occasion for me to discover new actors such as Lois Nettleton, Hugh O’Brien and Pamela Tiffin. This one really had the funniest part of the film. Of course, I already knew Dolores Hart and Karl Malden. As always, this actor did a fantastic job. But let’s focus on Dolores Hart because this article is dedicated to her. When you watch The Inspector and then Come Fly with me, you can see she was a very versatile actress. The part of Donna Stuart was really different from the ones in her first films: the sweet and innocent girl of Loving You, King Creole, and Lonelyhearts. Donna Stuart is a more “serious”, “mature”, and “casual” woman. What I liked about this film, is the fact that the three hostesses are all unique because they have all their own personality: Donna is the leader, Carol is the funny one (not always on purpose!), and Hilda is the sensitive one. Yes, Dolores Hart really became a leader in this film. While watching it, I could see she knew what she was doing. She was acting like a fish is swimming. She was just SO cool.
Film 7: Sail a Crooked Ship ( Irving Brecher, 1961)
Role: Elinor Harrison
My marathon was supposed to finish with Come Fly with Me, but, happily, I found a link to watch Sail a Crooked Ship. This is a sympathetic “Friday Night Comedy” starring Dolores Hart, Robert Wagner, Carolyn Jones, Ernie Kovacs, Frankie Avalon and Frank Gorshin. Before I watched this film, I only knew the first three actors of this list. So this was an occasion for me to discover three other very talented actors. They all play characters with unique personalities and that’s the greatest thing about this film. The story is simple. Gilbert Barrow (Robert Wagner) and Elinor Harrison (Dolores Hart), an engaged couple, find themselves on a boat full of crooks who plan to rob a bank in Boston. The crooks capture Elinor and Gilbert because they don’t want to leave any witnesses behind. When a hurricane shows up, Gilbert, Elinor, the captain Bugsy G. Fogelmeyer (Ernie Kovacs), his girlfriend Virginia (Carolyn Jones) and his nephew Rodney (Frankie Avalon) have to work as a team. However, the real danger on this boat is not the hurricane, but George M. Wilson (Frank Gorshin), the brainy sociopath of the crew. If you are in for a good laugh, I’ll suggest you to watch Sail a Crooked Ship. It’s a simple, but enjoyable film. Dolores Hart is pretty hilarious in it and makes a fine duo with Carolyn Jones and a lovely couple with Robert Wagner. One more time, Sail a Crooked Ship shows us perfectly Dolores Hart’s versatility, which seemed to be her biggest acting talent, in my opinion. Here, she is funny, she is angry, she is in love, etc. One of the most memorable lines of this film is when she says, several times, to Gilbert: “No Gilbert.” with a very patient voice like a teacher or a parent saying “no” to a little child. What I also liked about the film was the narration. It also made me think more of a TV movie or a television show, probably because of this narration and the way it was edited.
What I liked the most about this marathon was to discover a new actress: Dolores Hart. I heard a lot about her before but hadn’t seen her films. I also loved seeing that she was a talented actress and a lovely woman. Well, she’s still a lovely woman! What amazed me the most during this marathon was to see her talent growing wonderfully from films to films. I’m really disappointed I didn’t have the chance to watch Where the Boys Are. This is, apparently, one of her best films and it looks like a great one indeed. I couldn’t find any links on the web to watch it. Well, I hope I’ll get the chance to see it one day! If you haven’t seen any Dolores Hart’s films yet, well, you should. You will discover a unique actress.
A new marathon will start soon!