Let’s celebrate Eva Marie Saint’s 100th birthday

Eva Marie Saint turns 100 years young on July 4, and while celebrating the United States’ Independence Day, let’s also applaud this Oscar-and-Emmy-winning actress by enjoying her work that has lit up the big screen for decades. 

Diehard and brand-new Ms. Saint movie fans should first watch her Supporting Actress Oscar performance, opposite Marlon Brando, in “On the Waterfront” (1954) and her tangled turn with Cary Grant in Alfred Hitchcock’s all-time classic thriller, “North by Northwest” (1959).

Eva proudly carries north of 80 film, television, and podcast credits (87 to be exact), per IMDb, and here are three other movie performances to enjoy.

Happy birthday, Ms. Saint!

Louise Frederickson, “Grand Prix” (1966) – Director John Frankenheimer’s sprawling racing spectacle has no shortage of stirring road contests where Formula One drivers compete on sharp curves and straightaways at 180 mph, including a jaw-dropping opening at Monte Carlo.  Off the track, Pete Aron (James Garner), Scott Stoddard (Brian Bedford), Nino Barlini (Antonio Sabato), and Jean-Pierre Sarti (Yves Montand) contend to find romance.  This big-budget ensemble piece includes American fashion reporter Louise Frederickson (Saint), who rolls into the sport to work on a racing car magazine issue and falls for Jean-Pierre.  Saint and Montand share warm chemistry, as Louise offers charm and support and gains acceptance of Jean-Pierre’s hazardous lifestyle while he shares his increasing reservations about driving at breakneck speeds.  The on-screen personal relationships run neck and neck with the four-wheel battles on the asphalt in an engaging 176-minute picture from start to finish.  Buckle up.

Selma Wilson, “Loving” (1970) – Selma and Brooks Wilson (Saint and George Segal) are living and loving the American Dream with their two children in their Connecticut home.  Not exactly.  Brooks is having an affair with Grace (Janis Young), and a colleague’s wife, Nelly (Nancie Phillips), hopes to be his next extramarital tryst.  Meanwhile, this freelance illustrator desperately tries to win “the Lepridon account” for short-term financial security.  Meanwhile, Selma preserves order at their suburban homestead and attempts to persuade Brooks to move their family to a larger home.  Selma is steady, loyal, and beautiful but also clueless about Brooks’ philandering ways and loose-cannon sense of humor, which lands him in trouble within the ad agency community.  Neither Grace nor Nelly is physically threatening like Alex Forrest (Glenn Close) in “Fatal Attraction” (1987), but Selma seems like a genuine prototype for Beth Gallagher (Anne Archer), Dan’s (Michael Douglas) wife in Adrian Lyne’s 1987 thriller.  Selma wishes for a happy domestic life while her thoughtless husband makes miserable mistakes in director Irvin Kershner’s dramedy about stumbling on corporate and social ladders.

Miss Franny, “Because of Winn-Dixie” (2005) – “And then one morning, the preacher sent me to the store for a box of macaroni and cheese, some white rice, and two tomatoes, and after that, everything changed,” Opal (AnnaSophia Robb) says.  In director Wayne Wang’s light family film, Opal and her dad (Jeff Daniels) move to the Friendly Corners Mobile Home Park in Naomi, Fla., but this little girl misses her friends.  She doesn’t have any in Naomi until she encounters a bulky, orphaned dog, a Berger Picard, in a Winn-Dixie grocery store and names him after the said establishment.  Wang’s movie is about building resiliency and making connections.  Winn-Dixie assists Opal with both as she meets and regularly visits three adults in town: a pet store worker, the formerly incarcerated Otis (Dave Matthews), a blind, recuperating alcoholic named Gloria (Cicely Tyson), and a storytelling librarian, Miss Franny (Saint).  This pet movie holds a short leash on heartbreak but lets the narrative run loose on healing and hopeful feelings.  Saint, Tyson, and Matthews all deliver friendly, heartfelt moments as recurring supporting players, including Miss Franny’s sincerity when accepting Opal and Winn-Dixie’s friendship.  “That would be fine.  That would be grand.  Just grand,” she says with a winning smile. 

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