At the peak of her film career, Deborah Kerr was featured in some of the biggest, flashiest frock flicks of the 1950s. While not the most historically accurate, these movies made a huge impact and are genuinely good entertainment! Kerr’s theater training and personal elegance added to every role, so she’s worth remembering this Wednesday.
Gulielma in Courageous Mr. Penn aka Penn of Pennsylvania (1942)
She plays the first wife of William Penn, founding father of the Pennsylvania colony. Pretty glam for a Quaker miss!
Lygia in Quo Vadis (1951)
Ah yes, the 1950s sword & sandals era! When Ancient Rome was blinged out & painted up — which is a lot better than the pale nubby linen style later frock flicks go for.
This was the most expensive film ever made at the time & earned MGM a ton of that money back.
According to Wikipedia, Quo Vadis holds the record for the most costumes used in one movie at 32,000.
Questionable fabric choices, but attempting period lines.
Lots of bright technicolor glory!
Portia in Julius Caesar (1953)
This epic version of Shakespeare’s play was filmed in black & white, so there’s only a few color promo shots showing the costumes.
Catherine Parr in Young Bess (1953)
Deborah Kerr plays Henry VIII’s widow who finally gets to marry her first love — and then her step-daughter Elizabeth has the hots for him.
William Plunkett designed the Tudor costumes, & sure, they have ’50s lines, but they aren’t too bad otherwise.
Everyone loves this musical! (Except me, even tho’ I am a huge fan of musicals in general!)
Kerr looks great in costumes designed by Irene Sharaff, who won an Oscar for this movie.
Kerr didn’t sing, however — Marni Nixon dubbed the songs (Nixon also did My Fair Lady).
Sheilah Graham in Beloved Infidel (1959)
Set in the 1930s, Kerr plays a gossip columnist who has an affair with F. Scott Fitzgerald (Gregory Peck) towards the end of his life.
Looks more 1950s than 1930s to me.
Ida Carmody in The Sundowners (1960)
Supposedly set in rural Australia during the 1920s. Cute roo!
Miss Giddens in The Innocents (1961)
Psychological horror film set in Victorian England.
Deborah Kerr plays a governess.
I love a good ol’ walking-around-in-a-white-nightdress scene!
What’s your favorite of Deborah Kerr’s historical costume movie roles?