Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Second Class for the Penelope Louise Perkins Hall of Fame

Summer movie season is right around the corner. There are maybe two films I want to see. One thing missing is that ridiculously stupid looking movie that you can laugh at or drink alcohol while watching to heighten the experience (a Franzia movie). The last great Franzia flick was "The Day After Tomorrow", which was so ridiculous, that even my liberal, eco-friendly friends did not like it. The title is stupid too, why not just call it "2 Days From Now"? I'll scour the reviews for a turd to watch. Maybe there will be a wonderful lady or two on the screen that I can gaze at for 90-120 minutes, but knowing today's Hollywood, it'll be some anorexic woman with collagen lips and no talent. Where are my talented, women from next door in today's Hollywood. It is like all white female leads now have to look like the Corpse Bride. Where are my Penelope Louise Perkinses????

Prior to creating the PLP Hall of Fame for actresses who had talent and a nice look but somehow never made it huge, I originally had another name for it. I was going to call it the Katherine Ross Memorial Hall of Fame, because of the same concept and I thought Katherine Ross was dead. Then I saw Donnie Darko. Katherine Ross has an amazing tenderness as Elaine in The Graduate. She also has that strength not just in her actions with Ben but with her parents. I always love the line "not for me", which she says defiantly to her mom when she makes her escape and Mrs. Robinson is telling her it is too late. She parlayed that into a role in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. A couple missed opportunities and not being able to carry a movie at the box office relegated her to random TV spots and writing childrens' books. That's cool and all, especially considering she's married to one tough hombre, Sam Elliot. I just feel that movie going audiences missed out on seeing more of her for the next 15 years rather than the myriad of terrible actresses that have been forced into many roles, ruining films like either female lead in Saturday Night Fever, or the never ending stream of Diane Keaton vehicles. I do think Katherine Ross was a bit anorexic when they shot The Stepford Wives, but she was fine and in a classic sense. Why the hell was Barbara Streisand playing opposite of Robert f-ing Redford in The Way We Were when Katherine Ross was available? It's a mystery.

About 25 years after Katherine Ross was bursting out of the gates, a young brunette was putting in solid work both in comedies and dramas, but peaked with a role in a giant ensemble cast of a show that was past its prime (ER): Maura Tierney. A lot of nerdy men I know love her. A lot of women I know found her funny and likeable on Newsradio. Somehow this never translated to a steady, good movie career. Yes, she was on ER for 10 years, but after its peak. Watching that show end was like watching a friend deal with Mono, yeah they can do some chill things at home but not leave the house or do anything fun. Part of the problem I think is with Hollywood's sexism that still exists despite Hollywood being so 'liberal'. The main objective of most female roles is to be gazed upon or viewed, not to be the point of action. This is why Alfred Hitchcock rocks as he made female protagonists actually do things and drive the plot. A huge premium is put on putting asses in the seats and the look. Think about how many failed movies and series Heather Graham has had. She's one of the worst actresses ever (on par with Tanya Roberts). Maura Tierney manages to have good comic timing, can emote, and does not need dialogue to express how her character is thinking or feeling. I hope she can get work now that ER is done. If not, her spot is saved here in the Penelope Louise Perkins Hall of Fame.

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