"The Country Girl" Is Released
The Country Girl is a 1954 drama film adapted by George Seaton from a Clifford Odets play of the same name, which tells the story of a has-been singer/actor who is given one last chance to star in a musical, only to have his alcoholism hinder his chances. It stars Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly and William Holden. Seaton, who also directed, won the Academy Award for Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay. It was also entered into the 1955 Cannes Film Festival.
Kelly also won the Oscar for Best Actress for her role as the singer's long-suffering wife. The win was a huge surprise, as most critics and people in the press felt that Judy Garland would win for A Star Is Born. NBC even sent a camera crew to Garland's hospital room, where she was recuperating from the birth to her son, in order to conduct a live interview with her if she won. The win by Kelly instead famously prompted Groucho Marx to send Garland a telegram stating it was "the biggest robbery since Brinks."
Given the period of its production, the film is notable for its stringent dialog and honest treatments of the surreptitious side of alcoholism (Crosby's character) and post-divorce misogyny.
Bing Crosby does the Academy Award-bid bit in the atypical role of a self-pitying alcoholic, but it was his co-star, a deglamorized Grace Kelly, who won the Oscar for her performance in The Country Girl. This adaptation of Clifford Odets' play stars Crosby as Frank Elgin, a once-famous Broadway star who's hit the skids. Hotshot young director Bernie Dodd (William Holden), a longtime admirer of Elgin, tries to get the old-timer back on his feet with a starring role in a new play. But Dodd must contend with Elgin's hard, suspicious wife Georgie, who seemingly runs roughshod over her husband. Dodd holds Georgie responsible for Elgin's lack of self-confidence and his reliance upon the bottle--a suspicion fueled by Elgin himself, who insists that Georgie has been suicidal ever since the death of their son. When Elgin goes on a monumental bender during the play's out-of-town tryouts, the truth comes out: it is Elgin who is suicidal, and Georgie has been the glue that has held him together. Adopting a now-or-never stance, Dodd forces Elgin to stay off the sauce long enough for the play to open--and, in spite of himself, falls in love with Georgie. A few Hollywood liberties were taken with the Odets original, including a slightly altered ending. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide