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Katie Holmes Has Her Ups and Downs -- But Don't Blame Tom Cruise

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"NOBODY GETS justice. People only get good luck or bad luck," said Orson Welles.

•Katie Holmes is an excellent actress and a mighty attractive woman. However, since her divorce from Tom Cruise, her career, unlike that of her predecessor, Nicole Kidman, hasn't exactly hit the heights. (Kidman seemed on a low slow burn during the Cruise marriage. After they parted, she flowered into a big star!)

There have been rumors that somehow, for some reason, Tom Cruise is behind Katie's slightly sluggish career. Has he deliberately hampered her -- whispering to execs? Or maybe Hollywood doesn't "like" her simply because she was married to Tom, the Scientologist?

Good grief!

Holmes addressed the rumors in a recent magazine interview. Sensibly, she stated that all actors have "dry spells" and that as she has matured, she chooses her projects more carefully. Also -- she likes being with her child, Suri. It certainly has nothing to do with Tom Cruise!

"We actors don't have much choice in the matter," she said, referring to films and popularity. "It's the luck of the draw."

Holmes will be seen this year in Miss Meadows, Days and Nights, The Giver, and has Mania Days and Woman in Gold pending. She's doing fine.

•TCM'S Summer of Stars recently saluted the great character actress Thelma Ritter -- six times Oscar-nominated, never a winner. Thelma was a star from the first time she appeared on screen in the role of a frustrated shopper in Miracle on 34th Street. She was un-credited. But just a few years later she was stealing scenes from Bette Davis in All About Eve. ("What a story. Everything but the bloodhounds yapping at her rear-end!" Thelma exclaimed skeptically after hearing Eve Harrington's faux tale of woe.)

Miss Ritter was never less than splendid. But the night I watched several of her films, I gained a new appreciation for several of her co-stars. In The Mating Season, she is opposite Gene Tierney. Thelma plays the blue-collar mother of an upwardly mobile son. Gene mistakes Ritter for a maid, and the usual complications ensue -- quite charmingly. I had forgotten the ravishing beauty Gene was, and how surprisingly adept she was at comedy, and what a lovely singing voice she had. (There's a party sequence where she plays piano and sings something delicious in French. Not dubbed. It's her voice! )

Tierney is perhaps best known playing two of the most awful women ever, in Leave Her to Heaven and The Razor's Edge. In the former, she is an out and out murderess, in the latter, her despicable actions lead to a suicide. In both films, she confesses her crimes and adds, "I'd do it again!"

The Mating Season displayed a no less lovely Gene Tierney, but one infinitely less deadly, and quite charming.

Then I watched The Model and the Marriage Broker with Ritter as a matchmaker, and Jeanne Crain as a model looking for love. Ritter is again, as always, superb. But Jeanne Crain! Wow, was she a great beauty. I mean, right up there with Liz and Ava and Hedy Lamarr. For some reason 20th Century Fox didn't exploit her looks the way MGM did for its leading ladies. And she wasn't, after a certain point, given terribly good roles. (She was as good as she could muster in "Pinky," playing a girl of mixed heritage passing for white, but her features were just too classically Caucasian, especially with Ethel Waters as her grandmother -- Fox played it safe, to Jeanne's detriment. Linda Darnell would have been a better choice."Pinky" was also one of the films that Lena Horne wished at least to be considered for.)

Jeanne Crain was -- and remains -- underrated as an actress, yet she was really quite effective, in drama and comedy. She could dance, too. Jeanne was devoted to her Catholic faith, and had seven children -- keeping a remarkable figure, by the way! She seemed to drift out of movies and from film-goers consciousness. For a few years, however, she was something special up there on the silver screen.

•ENDQUOTE: Here's a sad observation from one of my readers: "I grew up in the Old South during the 1950s and 60s. The USA in 2014 feels more and more like Alabama or Mississippi circa 1955. What is happening to this country? Are we so mistrustful of one another that all we can do is hate?"