Who’s Maureen O’hara, I can hear the younger Blitzers snidely asking. Only the third most beautiful woman to grace the silver screen, I reply.
I don’t really blame young uns for not knowing her, I admit that when I read of her death this morning that my initial response was, I thought she’d died years ago. But spookily I was talking about her only recently in one of those “name the 4 most beautiful actresses in cinema history” debates that people my age tend to go in for. I based my decision on particular performances, rather than careers, where character and context were key factors, although pure beauty was undoubtedly the clincher. I had Maureen (Has there ever been another famous actress called Maureen?) in third place for her take on Esmeralda opposite Quasimodo in what is possibly my favorite movie of all time, Charles Laughton’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame", even though it sanitises the original Victor Hugo story where Esmeralda actually hangs. She was the first cinematic starlet I can remember seriously lusting after. I’m happy to report, after careful reviewing, that her beauty wasn’t just an adolescent fantasy, she truly was ravishing.
I think this is my favorite scene in all movies.
FYI, my 1, 2 and 4.
- Julie Christie in “Billy Liar”. How Billy left her waiting at the train station is one of life’s great mysteries I expect I’ll carry to my grave.
- Elizabeth Taylor in “A Place in the Sun.” If it was for best looking couple, she and Montgomery Clift would walk it in.
- Virginia Maskell opposite Peter Sellars in “Only Two Can Play”. Has any woman ever looked better in men’s pajamas?
PS None of the current crop of beauties come near this quartet………………………………………IM aging O.