The Country Girl is a 1954 American drama film directed by George Seaton and starring Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, and William Holden. Adapted by George Seaton from Clifford Odets' 1950 play of the same name, the film is about an alcoholic has-been actor struggling with the one last chance he's been given to resurrect his career. Seaton won the Academy Award for Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay. It was entered in the 1955 Cannes Film Festival.
Kelly won the Oscar for Best Actress for the role, which previously had earned Uta Hagen her first Tony Award in the play's original Broadway production. The role, a non-glamorous departure for Kelly, was as the alcoholic actor's long-suffering wife.
The win was a huge surprise, as most critics and people in the press felt that Judy Garland would win for A Star Is Born. NBC even sent a camera crew to Garland's hospital room, where she was recuperating from the birth of her son, in order to conduct a live interview with her if she won. The win by Kelly instead famously prompted Groucho Marx to send Garland a telegram stating it was "the biggest robbery since Brinks."
Given the period of its production, the film is notable for its realistic, frank dialogue and honest treatments of the surreptitious side of alcoholism and post-divorce misogyny.
In a theatre where auditions are being held for a new musical production, the director, Bernie Dodd, watches a number performed by fading star Frank Elgin and suggests he be cast. This is met with strong opposition from Cook, the show's producer.
Bernie insists on the down-on-his-luck Frank Elgin, who is living in a modest apartment with his wife Georgie. They are grateful, though not entirely certain Frank can handle the work.
Initially Frank leads Bernie to believe that Georgie is the reason for his career decline. Bernie strongly criticizes her, first behind her back and eventually to her face. What he doesn't know is that the real reason Frank's career has ended is his insecurity. When their five-year-old son Johnny was hit by a car while in his care, Frank was devastated by the death and, partly using that as an excuse to cover up his insecurity, reduced to a suicidal alcoholic.
Mealy-mouthed to the director's face, Frank is actually a demanding alcoholic who is totally dependent on his wife. Bernie mistakenly blames her for everything that happens during rehearsals, including Elgin's requests for a dresser and a run-of-the-show contract. He believes Georgie to be suicidal and a drunk, when it is actually Frank who is both.
Humiliated when he learns the truth, Bernie realizes that behind his hatred of Georgie was a strong attraction to her. He kisses her and falls in love.
Elgin succeeds in the role on opening night. Afterward he demands respect from the producer that he and his wife had not been given previously. At a party to celebrate, Bernie believes that now that Elgin has recovered his self-respect and stature, Georgie will be free to leave him. But she stands by her husband instead.
Filmed between February and April 1954, the film had its benefit world premiere at Criterion Theatre, New York on December 15, 1954. The Gala West Coast Premiere took place at the Stanley Warner Theatre, Wilshire Blvd. at Canon Drive, Beverly Hills on December 21. This was a benefit for the United States Olympic Fund. The critical response was very favorable with Bosley Crowther of The New York Times saying: "The Country Girl comes along fitly as one of the fine and forceful pictures of the year." Variety summed it up with "An exceptionally well performed essay on an alcoholic song man, with Bing Crosby the one carrying on a bottle romance, Country Girl is high on boxoffice punch. It’s a strong, intense show that’s certain to be talked about."
The Country Girl won two Academy Awards.
All the songs were written by Harold Arlen (music) and Ira Gershwin (lyrics)."It's Mine, It's Yours" sung by Bing Crosby
"The Search Is Through" sung by Bing Crosby
"The Land Around Us" sung by Bing Crosby
"Dissertation on the State of Bliss" sung by Jacqueline Fontaine and Bing Crosby
Bing Crosby recorded four of the songs for Decca Records and these were issued on a 10" LP titled The Country Girl / Little Boy Lost. Crosby's songs were also included in the Bing's Hollywood series.
Some of the dialogue from the film was used in the Mika song, "Grace Kelly". The film is referenced in the TV series I Love Lucy in the episode "L.A., At Last".