I wanted to love High Society because Grace Kelly and the author apparently had a lengthy friendship before he wrote this biography about her. I actually hadn’t realized how short her career was until I read this. The result of her limited stint in Hollywood resulted in a rather brief biography, but I still gained a much greater understanding of Grace Kelly, and liked her immensely!
Grace appeared in her films as a poised woman, and the inherent way she carried herself was honed in her early years as a model. She was a woman who stood up to studio heads and vocalized her displeasure for being under contract and forced to accept roles that were beneath her. I was surprised to learn that she was a prankster, and that some pranks lasted decades. Those personal details are the reason I love these old Hollywood biographies.
Grace really catapulted to stardom once Hitchcock took an immense liking to her and cast her in three movies, Rear Window, Dial “M” for Murder, and To Catch A Thief. He allowed her to do things on his set he rarely ever allowed: give input into the movie. When Grace opined about wardrobe, he listened. When Grace moved to a different location because her character would, he rearranged the shot. For all her glamour and celebrity, I was surprised that Grace described the night she won the Oscar for Best Leading Actress in The Country Girl as one of the saddest nights of her life because she was so alone. It then makes sense why she would be so eager to leave Hollywood to become Princess of Monaco.
The best thing about the book were the quotes that came directly from Grace or her costars about her. However, on a whole, this was an inconsistent book. I felt the author spent too much time giving lengthy synopsis of Grace’s movies, and I could have done without the inclusion of her movie dialogue. It didn’t add anything for me. There were also too many tangents and unnecessary information about other people that never related back to her in a meaningful way. Something about the writing style made this feel less indepth than I assumed it would be given the author’s knowledge of Grace. I also couldn’t help but feel this was a watered down version of her life in an effort to appease her. For example, there was hardly anything negative written about Grace’s life as Princess, even though there are so many rumors about what a terrible time that was for her. I mean a prince doesn’t ban his wife’s films from being shown in his country for nothing!
Overall, this was enjoyable and I am glad to have read it.