Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Tim Lucas over at Video Watchblog has uncovered the sad news that Stacey Tendeter, the haunting red-headed British actress who played Muriel in Francois Truffaut’s masterful Two English Girls passed away in October of 2008.
Despite giving a mesmerizing and touching performance in Truffaut’s most undervalued masterpiece, the career of Stacey Tendeter was mostly relegated to the small screen throughout the seventies and eighties, although things could have gone very differently for her as the two stories below demonstrate.
Before spotting the young and fierce Isabelle Adjani on French television in the mid seventies, Truffaut had originally thought of reuniting with Tendeter for The Story of Adele H. in 1975. According to Truffaut by Antoine de Baecque and Serge Toubiana screen-tests were made and Tendeter fit the part, but Truffaut couldn’t get Adjani out of his head and the rest is history. Adjani would become one of the biggest stars and most respected actresses in French history and Tendeter would slip into oblivion.
Even though she didn’t get to play the role of Victor Hugo’s tragic daughter in one of Truffaut’s most popular productions several of Two English Girls most searing moments seem like a dry run for Adele H., specifically a fevered dream sequence featuring Tendeter at her her most fragile, vulnerable and heartbreaking.
Truffaut didn’t forget Stacey Tendeter and in a letter to Anette Insdorf (found in the remarkable Francoise Truffaut Correspondence 1945-1984) in 1977 he makes mention that he would be acting opposite her in his eerie and resonate The Green Room. However it was not to be once again and Nathalie Baye ended up with the role.
I have many books on Truffaut, and his films, but very few make mention of Stacey Tendeter so behind the scenes information on her most famous role remain sketchy. Truffaut himself had this to say though in talking about her (and co-star Kika Markham) in a 1972 interview with Pascal Thomas:
“(Muriel) is played with all the verve of her deep and throaty voice by the young Stacey Tendeter. The two English actresses had done a little theater, some radio and television, but had never acted in films and above all had never acted in anything French. I guided them scene by scene, giving them instructions inspired by my reading of all the available biographies of the admirable Bronte sisters, also passionate, puritanical Englishwomen.”
I have been known to call Two English Girls my favorite film from my favorite director so the news that one of its stars has passed on at such a young age is extremely saddening. Consider these stills of Stacey Tendeter from Two English Girls my small tribute.