Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Grace Kelly Exhibition at TIFF Bell Lightbox




Organized by the V&A, and currently playing at Toronto’s TIFF Bell Lightbox until January 22, 2012, is Grace Kelly: From Movie Star to Princess - An Exhibition, a staggering collection of mementos and memorabilia celebrating the key events of Kelly's life, including her meteoric rise to fame in 1950s Hollywood and subsequent retirement from film at age 26, to marry Prince Ranier of Monaco. One of the most celebrated, photographed and glamorous figures of our age, Grace Kelly was also a down-to-earth, elegant, smart woman whose unique personal style continues to have a lasting impact on our culture to this day. 


The Grace Kelly Exhibition at TIFF Bell Lightbox


What emerges from the exhibition, is a rare personal insight into a woman at ease with her consecutive roles as model, movie star, bride and Princess of Monaco. The Toronto exhibition features many of Kelly’s original dresses, her signature Kelly bag and tiara, along with photos from her childhood scrapbooks and high school yearbooks, letters from many of Hollywood's glitterati and a number signed from her biggest admirer, "Affectionately, Hitch." 


Hitchcock and Kelly Photo by Ron Galella


Other mementos include Western telegrams from Prince Rainier, her Academy Award statuette for The Country Girl, and Kelly’s personal home movies shot on her Super 8, which provide an extremely rare and intimate glimpse into her personal day-to-day life with her husband, friends and family. 


Princess Grace of Monaco with little Caroline, Stephanie and Albert


Small plasma screens with headphones litter the exhibit, showing highlighted excerpts from many of her films, as well as black and white photos of Kelly with many of her leading men — with most of whom she had affairs — married or not. A fabulous collection of Kelly's original movie posters are on displays from country's around the world, one particularly humorous poster shouts 'La Ragazza di Campagna' — the Italian promotional poster from 'The Country Girl'!


Kelly's Italian movie poster for 'The Country Girl'

In 1954, when Rear Window premiered, Grace Kelly had been in only four films. She was hardly known to the public, and then she was suddenly known — a star. In her first film, Fourteen Hours, she played an innocent bystander, on-screen for two minutes and 14 seconds. In her second, Fred Zinnemann’s High Noon, she co-starred as the pacifist bride of embattled sheriff Gary Cooper. 


Grace Kelly and James Stewart in Hitchcock's Rear Window

In her third movie, John Ford’s Mogambo, she was the prim wife of a boring anthropologist who works for big-game hunter and heart-throb, Clark GableThese early films were a steep and impressive learning curve, straight to the top. By the time Hitchcock got his hands on her, figuratively speaking, casting himself as Pygmalion to her Galatea, Grace Kelly was ready for her close-up. Hitchcock gave her one after another, in three films that placed her on a pedestal — Dial M for Murder, Rear Window, and To Catch a Thief.


The movie poster for one of my favourite films — Hitchcock's Dial M for Murder

The German movie poster for 'To Catch a Thief'

Cary Grant and Grace Kelly in a promotional shot for 'To Catch a Thief'

 “A snow-covered volcano” was how Alrfed Hitchcock put it. "She was ladylike yet elemental, suggestive of icy Olympian heights and untouched autonomy yet, beneath it all, unblushing heat and fire". By 1956, two years, six films, and one Academy Award after Rear Window, she was gone, off to Europe to marry a prince, where she would become Her Serene Highness Princess Grace of Monaco, and although her career ended too soon, the talent, elegance and style she projected on film and embodied in life, continues to inspire many people to this very day, and proof that fairytales can come true.


The Newlyweds in 1956


"When people ask me who my favorite actress is, who my favorite actor is, who my favorite director is, and what my favorite film is, I tell them to watch 
'To Catch a Thief' and they'll get all the answers"
Costume designer Edith Head




416.599.TIFF