Devotion: An appreciation of Ann Harding

“I don’t make scenes, Mrs. Page.”

When actress Ann Harding speaks that line with a refined serenity in the  1933 drama “Double Harness,” it is as a wife coming to terms with losing her husband to another woman. But that line also sums up what makes Harding special as an actress – she didn’t make scenes on film either.

There was no flailing about, no screaming or histrionics. She created all emotions – happiness, sadness, love, longing, heartbreak – with grace and elegance using a subtle quivering or deepening of her voice; a gentle touch of her delicate hands to her face; a soulful gaze that hypnotized the viewer.

Harding made 40 films – more than half in the 1930s alone. On Aug. 21, Turner Classic Movies is showing 15 Harding films in celebration of the actress during the network’s Summer Under the Stars programming. Her films aren’t often shown so it’s a great chance to become familiar with Harding and fall under her spell. Here’s how that happened to me.

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