TNT examines women's role in the movies

March 16, 1996|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN STAFF

The folks at Turner sure love the movies. And on "The Good, The Bad and the Beautiful," it shows.

This two-hour retrospective look at women in the movies, premiering at 8 p.m. tomorrow on TNT, includes clips from 43 films and enough snappy lines and snippets of memorable performances to fill a textbook.

It also, somewhat sadly, reinforces the notion that Hollywood seems to have forgotten how to build movies around women. The wonderful female characters who carried films such as "The Postman Always Rings Twice," "His Girl Friday," "Camille," "Bombshell" and even a non-PC film like "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," only make more apparent the paucity of good women's roles in the movies today.

One problem, the movie suggests, is that several traditional women's roles have become outmoded. The role of the Bombshell, which both Jean Harlow and Marilyn Monroe fleshed out so beautifully, would never fly in the political climate of the 1990s.

Actress Jamie Lee Curtis says as much when she talks about enjoying Marilyn Monroe movies, but only because she knows that, in real life, Monroe was much smarter than the characters she played.

Similarly, the Goddess beautiful women who were revered on film, shot in only the most flattering of camera angles and handled more like icons than human beings is also extinct in Hollywood. The days when women such as Greta Garbo and Rita Hayworth could reign are past, and Hollywood has yet to figure who their successors are and how they should be handled.

But "The Good, The Bad and the Beautiful" comes not to criticize the movies of today, but rather to praise films throughout Hollywood's history. And on that level, it's hard to find fault.

The quips are especially fun, recalling the days when scriptwriters had to rely on insinuation and innuendo to get their points across. Which is why, in the 1930s, you had Mae West cracking, "It's not the men in your life that's important, it's the life in your men."

Today, of course, filmmakers would just show a line of men wrapping around the block, with a few graphic love scenes thrown in for good measure. The realism of the last 30 years or so has benefited movies in many ways, but it sure hasn't forced them to be any better written.

Pub Date: 3/16/96

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