Oscar: Best Actress–Jackson, Glenda, Women in Love (1970)

Women in Love Women in Love

British actress “Glenda Jackson” won her first Oscar in 1970 for Women in Love,” directed by ken Russell from D.H. Lawrence novel. In the early 1970s, Jackson was the Academy’s most honored actress.

In 1970, Jackson competed for the Best Actress Oscar with Jane Alexander in The Great White Hope,” Ali MacGraw in “Love Story,” Sara Miles in “Ryan’s daughter,”  and Carrie Snodgress in “Diary of a Mad Housewife.”

“Women in Love,” based on D.H. Lawrence’s novel, is arguably the most fully realized picture the British enfant terrible Ken Russell has made in his 50-year career. The movie is still his most critically acclaimed and commercially accessible work.
 
Russell made his first feature film, “French Dressing,” in 1963, but he burst upon the international scene in 1970 with his lavish production of D. H. Lawrence’s “Women in Love,” based on an Oscar-nominated adaptation by Larry Kramer (later better known as an AIDS activist). Kramer deviates substantially from Lawrence’s dense text, whose focus is a dissection of the characters’ inner lives. Nonetheless, he substitutes with an intelligent tale, which, while lacking Lawrence’s in-depth portraiture and subtlety of tone, is compelling in its own right.
 
“Women I Love” tells a deliriously romantic saga, well-acted tale by a wonderful ensemble of four thespians, all at their most appealing: Alan Bates, Oliver Reed, Glenda Jackson, and Jennie Linden.
 
Most of Russell’s films are too coarse, excessive, flamboyant, and confusing, but they are often filled with a creative energy that sustains dramatic interest. In hindsight, placed against Russell’s later work, “Women in Love” seems surprisingly tame, elegant, and even conventional. However, if you look closely, you can detect the excessive flourishes beneath the surface, such as a nude wrestling scene between the two male protagonists (see below).
 
In an Oscar-winning turn, Glenda Jackson plays Gudrun Brangwen, an intensely intellectual woman living in a small mining town with her sister Ursula (Jennie Linden). Gudrun falls in love with a mine owner, Gerald Crich (Oliver Reed) and Ursula with a school teacher (Alan Bates). The film depicts the evolution and devolution of these relationships, including the destructiveness of the Gudrun-Crich bond, which ultimately leads to his death 
 
As noted, the full frontal nudity of a wrestling scene between Reed and Bates achieved notoriety and indicated for things to come in future Russell films.
 
Handsomely mounted, there’s sharp imagery by ace lenser Billy Williams, who later won an Oscar for the biopic “Gandhi” (1982).  The film is enjoyable and engaging, boasting polished production values, including Luciana Arrigi’s art direction and Shirley Russell’s costume design.
 
Oscar Nominations: 4
 
Director: Ken Russell
Actress: Glenda Jackson
Screenplay (Adapted) Larry Kramer
Cinematography: Billy Williams
 
Oscar Awards: 1
 
Actress
 
Oscar Context:
 
The winner of the Best Director was Franklin J. Schaffner for the military biopic, “Patton,” which also also won Best Picture. Ring Lardner Jr. won the Adapted Screenplay Award for M.A.S.H. directed by Altman.
 
Freddie Young won the Cinematography Oscar for David Lean’s romantic epic, “Ryan’s Daughter.”