Anne Revere is the specialist when it comes to playing understanding and supportive mothers. There is something about her that makes her appear so wise and so warm at the same time and she always adds an enormous amount of grace and dignity to her roles. And while her other two nominated performances in The Song of Bernadette and Gentleman’s Agreement may have had more dramatic opportunities, her role as Elizabeth Taylor’s understanding mother showed her intelligence and her warmth at its most captivating.
Is there anyone who wouldn’t want Donald Crisp and Anne Revere as his/her parents? These two actors are able to basically steal the show from Elizabeth Taylor and her horse and add a completely new and unexpected dimension to the story.
The fact that Mrs. Brown has her own backstory – she became the first woman to swim the English channel – does not really matter in flow of the story apart from the importance of her prize money but you don’t have a hard time to believe that Mrs. Brown used to have her own life before she became a wife and mother.
Mrs. Brown also her own philosophy – she believes that there is a time for everything and that, once something is over, you should let it go. While this is all debatable, Anne Revere delivers her lines with so strength and decisiveness that you will believe every word she says. Especially in the scene in the attic, Anne Revere shines as one of the most admirable mother characters ever put on the screen.
All the honesty that Anne Revere put into this character also makes one of her final scenes so strong. When Velvet returns from the race and asks her mother if they were in the best in the world, Mrs. Brown answers with yes – and you just know that she would never say it if it wasn’t true.
Anne Revere certainly took what was probably supposed to be a plot device for a story around rising star Elizabeth Taylor and filled it with life and intelligence. Of course, the nature of the role did not give her any true challenged but she beautifully created her own challenges. Sometimes she may take her character’s strength a bit too far, though – her face sometimes appears to be almost unconcerned with the happenings around her and the constant wise words Mrs. Brown is asked to say by the screenplay make her sometimes appear like a fortune-cookie and you have to wonder if there is ever a moment when Mrs. Brown does not appear saint-like. Anne Revere’s maybe sometimes too dignified acting in some moments unfortunately underlines the problems of the character but overall, it’s still a beautiful and touching portrayal of one of the most admirable mothers ever put on the screen.