Women in movies
|Who is your favorite actress?.
you like the women in movies today or do you prefer the femme fatales of the past?
What about sex in movies? Do men today just want to see naked women in movies?
Maybe not; the Twilight
movies featuring Kristen Stewart are doing great and there is no nudity.
Please read our article titled "Where Are Today's Female Movie Icons?" and discover
one woman's thoughts about these topics.
our exclusive Feature Article:
Where Are Today's Female Movie Icons?
In the Golden Age of Hollywood, the stars were like royalty and the studio system
tried to protect them from any scandal. The system produced its share of bland movies
but also created the classics that we revere today. It would not have been so golden
if not for the long line of female stars, whose images still dominate popular culture.
It's difficult to pinpoint why someone has iconic status, we just know it when we
There is a charismatic quality that comes alive in front of the camera. Introduce
a sympathetic director and a meaty story and audiences are transfixed. The leading
ladies didn't always fit within the usual idea of conventional beauty and the 1930s,
40s and 50s were fortunate in having the unique presence of Bette Davis, Joan Crawford,
Katherine Hepburn and others. Even in run of the mill films, they shine. Give them
a classic role and they own every scene. These oldies tend to have strong, even melodramatic,
stories and they need strong women to deliver them. These were actresses with strong
personalities, not to mention talent, and playing strong women led to fireworks. Stories
were often told from a woman's point of view.
There are also examples of shimmering beauty in stars such as Lana Turner and Greta
Garbo. Sex was suggested, not shown. The censors were on the lookout so directors
had to be inventive. This led to subtlety, which is often more sexy than the graphic
scenes we're familiar with in contemporary movies. Some of the most enjoyable roles
were femmes fatales, alluring women with mysterious pasts who persuaded men to murder
and lie for them.
I like nothing better than to curl up in front of the TV on a Sunday afternoon to
watch an old black and white weepie or a thriller, or perhaps a moody film noir. Add
a box of chocolates and I'm in heaven. Two of my favorite movies are famous for lines
that became catchphrases. A scary Bette Davis plays Margo Channing in All About Eve
(1950) and delivers the line, "Fasten your seatbelts - it's going to be a bumpy night".
Lauren Bacall, as Slim, seduces Humphrey Bogart in To Have and Have Not (1944) with
"You know how to whistle, don't you Steve? You just put your lips together and .blow".
This elite order of stars refused to defer to any man. They could give out a tongue-lashing,
be manipulative, and be sexy without removing a single piece of clothing. They could
also be vulnerable, winning our allegiance. Whatever is going on, we can't take our
eyes off them. Off screen, battles were fought, as when Bette Davis stood up to Warner
Brothers studio to get better parts. The cry often goes up that there are too few
good roles for women these days. Mainstream producers have their eye on that 15 to
25 years old male demographic. Sure, they want to see women, but not necessarily those
with something to say. The lack of female directors doesn't help. Of course, not making
so called 'womens' films' can lead to an absence of women. Kathryn Bigelow is known
for making movies about men and has beaten the male directors at their own game, becoming
the first woman to win a Best Director Academy Award for the thoughtful action movie,
The Hurt Locker.
Actresses get disturbingly thinner. However, tastes change and sometimes come around
again, so the more curvaceous look, exemplified by Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell,
is waiting in the wings for a revival. Audiences are getting tired of seeing protruding
shoulder blades and ribs parading on the red carpet.
So, are any of today's actresses truly iconic? Today's Hollywood marketable female
parts are Lara Croft or a Charlie's Angel. Fantasy violence chicks with all the attributes
put butts on seats. Of course there are many talented actresses out there and we can
all make lists. Gwyneth Paltrow, Hilary Swank and Julianne Moore would probably be
on them but how do these lists compare to the stars of yesteryear? Perhaps it is an
unfair comparison. The appeal of actresses and indeed, actors with larger than life
personalities has probably declined over the years. The Method School of acting demanded
that the player completely immerse himself or herself in the character. This went
against the grain of someone like John Wayne who only ever played himself. "Playing
yourself" lost its value for a while.
Today's cinema celebrates personality with romantic comedies featuring Hugh Grant
and action films starring the latest sweaty muscle bound hero. If stars want to be
taken seriously, they have to take a 'character' part. Helena Bonham Carter came out
of an English rose enclave and relished her feisty roles in Fight Club and Sweeney
Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
This brings us back to the roles. So many female parts are simply there to prop up
the male leads, but there are notable exceptions when artistry is prized above box
office takings. Icons cannot thrive in a vacuum after all. Perhaps it's a case of
write the parts and they shall come. It's impossible to discuss the subject of strong
roles for women without someone raising Thelma and Louise. It's worth remembering
(SPOILER ahead!) that the outlaw pair ended up in a horrific car crash. Not exactly
a resounding triumph!
The age of the true female icon has come and gone but does it matter? Every decade
produces great actresses and roles. It's easy to become misty eyed about the golden
age of this and that. Yet, I have a yearning for the grace of Audrey Hepburn, the
sassiness of Lauren Bacall, and the toughness of Barbara Stanwyck. Being a star used
to really mean something. There is so much media coverage now; they have lost the
air of mystery and they don't seem as unattainable. Star quality is hard to define
and tastes change. One thing is for sure; whatever the era, a star should be a rare
and wondrous sight.
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There is a new Young Adult book series that lovers of the Twilight Saga will probably
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