Saturday, April 18, 2009

A Tribute to Katharine Ross

Turner Classic Movies will be showing a four–movie tribute to actress Katharine Ross tonight.

Today isn't Ross' birthday — that will be next January. But 40 years ago, she was undeniably one of the most attractive actresses in movies, and she appeared in some pretty noteworthy films.

The first two movies on tonight's schedule, "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" at 7 p.m. (Central) and "The Graduate" at 9 p.m. (Central), are pretty familiar, even today — four decades after they were made. The other two may not be quite as familiar.

The third film, "Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here," is a pretty remarkable film, made more remarkable by the performances of Ross, Robert Blake and Robert Redford. And Conrad Hall's cinematography is amazing. The film starts at 11 p.m. (Central) and it is only about 1½ hours long. I recommend it.

The last movie in the tribute is "Voyage of the Damned," a 2½–hour film from 1976 that airs at 1 a.m. (Central). Based on a true story, the film is about an ocean liner carrying Jewish refugees from Germany to Cuba in 1939. There is some dispute over how many of the passengers ultimately perished in Nazi concentration camps, but Ross won a Golden Globe for her performance.

Actually, tonight's films give you the chance to see nearly all of Ross' award–winning performances. The British Academy of Film and Television Arts honored her for her work in both "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and "Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here." And the Hollywood Foreign Press Association recognized her work in both "Voyage of the Damned" and "The Graduate."

Ross' only Academy Award nomination was for her work in a supporting role in "The Graduate," but she lost to Estelle Parsons. Thus, she never won an Academy Award — although she turned down the role in "Klute" for which Jane Fonda received an Oscar.