Thursday, June 18, 2009

Bette Davis, "The Star," and Modern Older Actresses

My wife and I watched the 1952 Bette Davis film "The Star" last night. Davis is my wife's favorite actresses so I'm always up for a Davis film. The plot of "The Star" shows an older actress who fears her career is over but can't accept it.

"The Star" isn't the first film by Davis with this kind of theme. I've seen "All About Eve" and there might be more. "Sunset Boulevard" is another that comes to mind. And it's all about the ladies, older actresses who suddenly find themselves too old for the parts being written. It's a commentary on aging as well as the Hollywood system.

You never hear about this from the male side of the ledger.

So here's my question: I can't think of a modern film with a theme like this. Are there any? Or did the demise of the Hollywood contract system make films like this unnecessary? And what do you think about "older" actresses nowadays and the roles they get/don't get?


Doug Warren said...

While certainly not equal to those of aging men, the roles for aging women (IMHO) increased. Thanks to actors like Meryl Streep there are good roles for women in middle age. In addition, I believe that the availability of these roles will greatly increase as Baby Boomers age because people will be interested in characters they can relate to. If you want a great illustration of this check out Holly Hunter in Saving Grace (TNT). This character is full of life, avoiding all of the stereotypical mid-life angst (she has a whole different bag of angst to deal with).

Charles Gramlich said...

Hum, I got nothing. I can hardly remember most actors names unless it's Clint Eastwood.

Chris said...

I wonder what the actresses of today will do on into the future as well. Will Cameron Diaz still be making movies in her 50s? Julia Roberts in her 60s? I think they'll figure out a way. I agree with Doug—they'll play roles commensurate with their age. Unless they're Sandra Bullock, who appears to be starring in another upcoming movie about getting married. Interestingly enough, that movie has Betty White in it, who appears to have had a bit of a revival as of late.

Scott Parker said...

(Ironic that only men, so far, have commented...)

Doug - I think you're right in saying that there are probably better roles now for older actresses than there used to be. Saw the Michelle Pfeiffer has a new film. Subconsciously, this might be where this question started because, when I saw her on Letterman, I said "Where's she been?"

Charles - I'll send you some flashcards. :-)

Chris - It's hard to imagine, right now, Julie and Cameron later in life. But it'll be fun to watch.

Chris said...

I have seen the future: And it probably does not contain a movie called My Best Friend's Wedding 2: Return of the Bride.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Hollywood won't ever risk letting them show their faces in a movie about showing their faces. TV is more generous, but not much more. Forty-year olds are as far as they go. Holly Hunter dresses like a teenager in SAVING GRACE and Kyra Sedgewick has an even stranger wardrobe.

Barbara Martin said...

I love the old classic movies of the 40s and 50s. As for older actresses in the movies today, I cannot provide an answer as I rarely attend.

Scott Parker said...

Chris (II) - Thing is, I'd go see that film.

Patti - At least those shows are available to them. Think about the opportunities pre-cable: nil. I need to check out those shows.

Barbara - Well, there is a lot of crap out there but, every now and then, a true gem emerges.