The Secret Lives of Jean Seberg
HUMANITIES, Spring 2016, Volume 37, Number 2
It was the biggest talent search for a Hollywood film in the 1950s. More than 18,000 unknown actresses from the United States and Europe auditioned, but a pretty seventeen-year-old girl from Marshalltown, Iowa, won the chance to play Joan of Arc in Otto Preminger’s 1957 film, Saint Joan.
It had the largest soundstage in Europe, 1,500 extras, and glittering premieres in France, England, and America, but critics panned the movie. The media treated Jean Seberg’s portrayal of the French martyr so viciously that many assumed she would return to her quiet life in Iowa as soon as possible. But the actress persevered to become an important figure in the development of modern cinema and the face of Mod fashion.
Victoria Cooney Is a writer in St. Paul, Minnesota.