A look through Anne Bancroft’s movies is enough proof that she is a true legend in every sense of the word. She left an outstanding acting record that most actors will give ‘an arm and a leg’ to have today. She studied method acting under Lee Strasberg and was one of the popular actresses that practiced it. Bancroft was indeed a bundle of talent and was respected for her acting prowess. With her exceptional singing and acting skills, she was well-known for her works in the theatre, film, and television. She was also a screenwriter and director. Although the death of a loved one will always come as a surprise, she left an indelible mark on her family and the acting world in general.
Born Anna Maria Louisa Italiano in the Bronx, New York, the United States on the 17th of September 1931, the late actress seemed to have always had acting on her mind. Raised by her parents Michael G. and Mildred Italiano together with her sisters, Bancroft after graduating from Christopher Columbus High School in 1948, proceeded to attend the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, the Actors Studio and also the American Film Institute’s Directing Workshop for Women in the University of California, Los Angeles.
Anne Bancroft began acting under the name Anne Marno but was advised to change it as it sounded “too ethnic”. As most great actors, her career started on the stage and was a very successful one which won her a Tony Award before she went on the big screens. She has won several awards including 1 Academy Award, 2 Tony Awards, 2 Golden Globes Award, 2 Emmy Awards, and several other awards and nominations in her career which lasted for five and a half decades. Here is a look at some of the greatest Anne Bancroft movies beginning from the best to the least good.
Anne Bancroft Movies: 10 of Her Greatest Films Ranked Best To Worst
1. The Miracle Worker (1962)
The film is an adaptation of an autobiography about Helen Keller who turned blind and deaf as a child due to scarlet fever. With her inability to communicate, she was prone to a violent outburst. Anne Bancroft featured as the blind teacher (Anne Sulivan) who breaks through to her and teaches her to communicate. Having won a Tony Award for her performance in the Broadway production with the same director, it came as no surprise when she won an Academy Award for her performance in the film. The film was a success in the box office grossing $2.5 million on a budget of $500,000. The movie has a perfect score of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes and Anne received high praise for her astonishingly real and honest portrayal of Keller’s character. The film has been remade twice for television and it remains a classic.
2. The Graduate (1967)
This romantic comedy features Anne as Mrs. Robinson and it became her most popular role so popular that her character became an archetype. Anne herself complained that her role in the film has overshadowed all of her other works. In the film, Anne’s character (Mrs. Robinson) an unhappily married woman seduces twenty-one-year-old Benjamin Braddock (a recent college graduate) who then falls in love with her daughter. The movie was a success critically and in the box office. With a budget of $3 million, it grossed $789 million. Mike Nichols also won an Academy Award for Best Director. This is one of Anne Bancroft’s movies that was selected for preservation in the U.S National Film Registry in 1996 as being historically and culturally significant. It has 88% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
3. The Elephant Man (1980)
The Elephant Man would remain one of Bancroft’s most iconic films, however, she shares the glory with who starred alongside her. As with most of Anne Bancroft’s movies, The Elephant Man was produced by Mel Brooks, however, his name was not credited as one of the producers to avoid misleading audiences to think the film was a comedy – a genre Brooks had become known for. The historical film, it tells the story of a certain English man named Joseph Merrick whose severe deformities had made quite popular. The film was a huge hit both commercially and among critics. It made $25 million in North America with a budget of $5 million.
4. How to Make an American Quilt (1995)
The film is an adaptation of a 1991 novel by Whitney Otto with the same name. Anne features as Gladys Joe the great aunt to Sophia Darling. Sophia visits her great aunt and grandmother to clear her head and make up her mind about accepting her boyfriend’s marriage proposal only to discover that their quilting group is working on her wedding gift. Gladys’s sister Hy who is Sophia’s grandmother sleeps with Gladys’ husband in a moment of weakness. Anne who breaks her collection of porcelain figurines in anger later reconciles with her sister.
Reviews for the film were mixed but Anne received positive mentions for her performance. The film also earned a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. The film has a 61% score on Rotten Tomatoes and was successful in the box office with a budget of $10 million and a gross of $41 million.
5. The Turning Point (1977)
The film centers on the world of ballet in New York City and how the characters live with the important life choices they make. The film was nominated for 11 Academy Awards with Anne nominated for the Best Actress category. Ironically, the film won none of its Academy nominations making it one of the films with the highest numbers of nominations and zero wins. It did win a Golden Globe and a SAG Award. This was one of Anne’s great performances where she features as Emma Jacklin a prima ballerina who convinces her major contender and closest friend to drop out of dancing and start a family after she falls pregnant. The movie has a 57% score on Rotten Tomatoes and made $33.6 million at the box office.
6. Keeping the Faith (2000)
Anne Bancroft acted into the mid-2000s and this was one of her best outings of the time. The romantic comedy features Anne as Ruth Schram the high handed/minded Jewish mother of the young Rabbi – Jake Schram who insists all her sons marry good Jewish girls. The film has a 69% score on Rotten Tomatoes with majorly positive reviews. It was a major success in the box office grossing $59.9 million which is close to double of its $29 million budget.
7. The Pumpkin Eater (1964)
Anne features as Jo Armitage – an unusually fertile woman with several children whose third husband’s philandering ways cause her lots of grief. With the help of her psychiatrist, she is able to forge ahead in her marriage and life. Anne won a BAFTA Award and 1964 Cannes Film Festival ‘Best Actress’ Award for her performance, the film was a minimal success in the box office grossing $1.2 million and had mixed reviews with the critics. It has a 62% score on Rotten Tomatoes.
8. To Be or Not to Be (1983)
In this Anne Bancroft movie, she acted alongside her husband (Mel Brooks) who was also the director. This war comedy movie is a remake of the 1942 movie with the same title. It received average reviews with some critics asserting that it wasn’t as good as its predecessor. Despite this, Anne got a Golden Globe nomination for ‘Best Supporting Actress’. The film was also mildly successful commercially, grossing $13 million on a $9 million budget. It has a 61% score on Rotten Tomatoes.
9. 7 Women (1966)
Anne features as Dr. Cartwright who goes to a small mission in rural China. She gets entangled with the village tyrant (Tunga Khan) while trying to save and protect the other women in the mission. She unreluctantly becomes his concubine in a bid to save others. She saw the other women to safety and poisons him before drinking from another poisoned cup. While it is uncertain how successful this movie was in the box office, the movie has appeared on different lists. It appears on the list as one of the “most misappreciated and important American films”. Anne Bancroft wasn’t cast for the role initially, Patricia Neal who was originally cast suffered a stroke and Anne was called in to take over. The director – John Ford wasn’t happy casting Anne for the role as he had previously described her as “the mistress of monotone”.
10. Agnes of God (1985)
The mystery film chronicles the journey of a novice nun who gives birth and loses the child. She believes the death of the child was due to a virgin conception. Anne Bancroft features as the mother superior (Mother Miriam) of the convent. The film received mixed reactions upon release. Although Anne was praised for her performance and received yet another Academy Award nomination for ‘Best Actress’, the plot was described as having lots of holes. It has a 43% score on Rotten Tomatoes and grossed $25.6 million domestically.