Babington and Evans make some interesting remarks about Simmons. In their view, at the heart of the biblical epic is a tension between morality and sexuality - hence why they consider Victor Mature, and not Heston, the name "indelibly linked with the Biblical Epic", Heston is just too pure - and Simmons was a particularly strong example of this tension.1 Whilst her attractiveness and sexuality were always apparent, an undoubtedly strong morality seemed to run through the majority of her roles.
For all her biblical movies, the film of hers I hold dearest is Big Country - the only time she ever teamed up with Charlton Heston (who had starred in a Bible film or two himself). It's one of my favourite westerns. The magnificent landscapes live up to the billing (even if the script's self-referential nods to the title get a bit much), and the story and the performances are magnificent. And that fight scene...
Ultimately, it seems to me at least, Simmons suffered a little for her similarity to Audrey Hepburn. Simmons was there first of course - Black Narcissus was 1947 and it was already her tenth film - but somehow Hepburn had more star appeal. The result however was that Simmons continued to have a successful career even as she got older. She starred on stage in Sondheim's A Little Night Music, and in a steady flow of TV roles. She was still working in 2004 (aged 75) when she provided the voice of Sophie in Howl's Moving Castle - a role significant enough to mean that many news outlets reporting her death have described her as Howl's Moving Castle actress Jean Simmons.
Simmons was married twice (to Stewart Granger and director Richard Brooks) and had two daughters - Tracy Granger (b.1957) and Kate Brooks (b.1961). She was awarded an OBE in 2003.
1 - Bruce Babington and Peter William Evans, "Biblical Epics: Sacred Narrative in the Hollywood Cinema", Manchester University Press ND, 1993, p.227