DEBORAH KERR’S most famous movies–“From Here To Eternity,” “The King and I,” “An Affair To Remember” — were referenced constantly last week, in the wake of the great actresses’ death at age 86. Her “Eternity” beach scene with Burt Lancaster is cinema’s classic “sexy” clinch, but Kerr was never more alluring and interesting than in her first important movie, 1947’s “Black Narcissus.” In that film, under the direction of Michael Powell, Kerr plays a repressed nun, overseeing a lot of other similarly repressed nuns at a convent high in the Himalayas. (One of these ladies of the cloth is nuts, played magnificently by Kathleen Byron.) Through pursed lips and flaring nostrils, Kerr’s sister superior reveals herself as not entirely free of earthly desire. It also features a very young Jean Simmons as a sexy servant, and the usually loin-clothed Sabu, as well. Pick up the Criterion DVD of this movie. You’ll never see such an atmospheric use of Technicolor. Except for “The Red Shoes,” another overwrought classic — too much ballet can drive you mad! — also from the team of Powell and Emeric Pressburger.
JERRY HALL, the bombshell who grew up in one of my own Texas hometowns (Gonzales, population 5,000), is getting a rumored $2 million advance to write her life story for HarperCollins. And we all know that the fact this dynamo was married to Mick Jagger and had four children with him between 1990 and 1999, is partly the reason for this magnificent money and interest. Jerry has remained on the periphery of the newsworthy Rolling Stones for years. She is 51 years old now and Mick is 64. It took Mick’s fathering a child by Brazilian model Luciana Morad in 1999 to force Jerry to the divorce court. Of course when Weidenfeld & Nicolson offered Mick a fortune to do an autobiography in the early ’80s, he finally gave up saying he couldn’t remember enough about the ’60s. Not so Jerry. She remembers everything. She will, of course, have lots to say about her own life, philosophies and adventures in this book.
JAMES LIPTON’S hit from Dutton went back for more prints almost before it arrived in bookstores. Host of “Inside the Actors Studio” has told the “Inside Inside” of his amazing life and he tells me, “I asked of myself the same candor I ask of my guests.” Every actor dreams of being in Jimmy’s witness chair being asked what he’d like to hear God say when he arrives in heaven?
LAST WEEK at the Paley Center, true Arlene Francis fans were invited to an advance screening of the documentary, “Arlene Francis: That Certain Something,” in honor of what would have been the TV lady’s 100th birthday. The audience came away raving. Jackie Sanders has made the documentary and it is narrated by Broadway’s finest — Cherry Jones. Call 917-225-3743 for info.