If you’ve been a reader of this blog for any time, you know how much I love classic films. I love the women and men and their roles in the 30s and 40s, and into the 50s, too. Men were men and women were women…for better or worse. That’s not to say that human nature has changed that much; it was just…different.
Fortunately, I’m not the only one who’d rather line up a few of those great films for the weekend instead of seeing the latest million dollar blockbuster. They’re overrated, bloated and really, how many times can you kill the same enemy, with the same tired lines and with the same “I-thought-the-woman-of-my-dreams-died-and-here-it-is-the-last-thirty-seconds-of-the-movie-and-I’ve-killed-the-enemy-and- woman-of-my-dreams-is-still-alive” plotline? Don’t the actors get tired of it? Eh, it is what it is, I reckon.
Enter the latest blogathon, hosted by The Last Drive In and Movies Silently. This time, we’re shooting for the anti-damsel. What is the anti-damsel? Well, I’ll leave it to the rockstar hosts to explain it:
“She’s been the central figure in danger, the iconic woman in peril … the one who is not in control, trapped by a the narrow gaze of objectification… instead of inherently capable of the same self sufficiency, violence, aggression, strength or self preservation as men….”
The first thing that comes to mind is any of the many Bette Davis roles, right? This time, I’m going to do it a little different. The film I’ve chosen indeed has Bette Davis, but she’s actually the “good girl”, or rather, the “better” girl. No, for this blogathon, I’m choosing a more unlikely choice: Mary Astor in her Oscar winning role in 1941’s The Great Lie. She’s everything this challenge calls for, but you’ll have to check back this weekend to see how she fills that role.
I know, I know…any previous writing about Mary Astor, at least from me, has been mostly her role in Dodsworth, as the patient, sweet, loving and forgiving “other woman” in Walter Huston’s life. Don’t mistake the “other woman” role as something bad. Against Ruth Chatterly, Astor is nothing short of a saint and very much the one you hope “wins” Huston’s heart. It is poles apart from the role she plays in the love triangle in The Great Lie. And that’s saying something, considering Bette Davis is her competition!
Check back over the weekend as I explore Mary Astor’s “married but not married” Sandra Kovak, who, by the way actually plays – and flawlessly, I might add – Tchaikovsky’s Concerto 1.