It seems, for a woman in Hollywood, you have to have buckets of talent and gumption to push through the typical end-of-career age barrier. Meryl Streep, Judi Dench, Bette Davis, Elizabeth Taylor. Rightly so, I think – age seems to be the only thing that may stop mediocre-but-good-looking actresses like… Kristen Stewart. Lindsay Lohan. Blah, blah, blah.
The same can’t be said for men. Maybe it’s because men tend to age better. Look at Gregory Peck, Cary Grant, James Stewart. They have a ‘best before’ date too, of course – look at Harrison Ford now days, a great actor who has lost his sexy older man appeal and is now days simply… an old man with an earring and a penchant for canal boat holidays. My point is, male actors can go on being the leading man in a movie romance for decades longer than a beautiful leading lady easily can.
I haven’t seen the 1995 version, but the good old 1954 original; Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart and William Holden.
Not to give much away to those of you who have not seen it, it’s basically about a young girl (Hepburn), who falls in love with her father’s boss’s son (Holden). She goes away to Paris for two years, and returns as this gorgeous and sophisticated European woman, complete with an enviously beautiful Parisian couture wardrobe and trademark Hepburn pixie cut. Pretty quickly a slightly complex, plot-twist riddled love triangle forms between Hepburn, Holden and his brother, Bogart.
Simple enough. I love this movie, though it’s been a few years since I last found the chance to sit down and watch it. But there was one particular line that strikes me each time.
Spoken during a scene between Hepburn and Holden, in which they are discussing their first kiss, Hepburn points out that they have kissed once before – which Holden has long forgotten.
‘I was nine, and you had your arms around me because you were teaching me to skate backwards. Suddenly, you kissed me.’
Note, at the time of release, Hepburn was twenty-five years old, while Holden was thirty five, and as he plays a man thrice-married, how much younger could his character be? He definitely looks like a man in his thirties.
Which means, nine year old Sabrina was kissed by nineteen year old David. And then there’s older brother, Linus (Bogart). Older as in, there’s a twenty year age gap between big brother and little brother. That’s thirty years between Linus and Sabrina. Creepy, creepy.
The same can be said about so many old movies, though
Rear Window. 25 year old Grace Kelly alongside 46 year old James Stewart.
North by Northwest. 55 year old Cary Grant alongside 25 year old Eva Marie Saint.
High Society. 26 year old Grace Kelly alongside 53 year old Bing Crosby, 43 year old Frank Sinatra and 45 year old John Lund. If you haven’t seen the film, I won’t tell you which one she ends up with.
I just find it bizarre. Yes, women want men – we don’t want boys who are still living with their mothers, rolling around in yesterday’s boxers and the latest notch in their bed post, hungover, perma-tanned and full of steroids – the only way they can realistically achieve those bubble muscles. But surely the other alternative isn’t just wrinkly old men with borderline pedophilic tastes in fresh-from-school young women?
Well, according to old Hollywood, that’s the choice.