The TSorensen Movie Award part 4
The fourth and final award covering the first 200 movies on the list goes to the Empowered Lead Actress.
Something that generally annoys me in movies is when the women are merely accessories, their roles defined singularly from the viewpoint of the male actors. I know, it goes a lot deeper than just gender roles, but it annoys me when they take away not only the brains from a girl, but also the will to do anything on her own. I lose interest in that type of women in movies as well as in reality and it is a general weakness of older movies that these women are so prevalent. Women in movies can be a lot more than a romantic interest or a damsel in distress and I would like to celebrate the few movies who present us with strong leading ladies. I am not necessarily talking about dominating women, but rather the act where the female character is the star in her own right.
As much as I like noir and the women in noir, they do tend to be objects with the purpose to lead men astray. That unfortunately rules out some spectacular acts.
Anyway, the nominees are:
Bette Davis in “Jezebel”. This vengeful and spoiled character singlehandedly carries this costume pre-Gone-with-the-wind drama. I do not like her character, but man she is powerful.
Vivien Leigh in “Gone With the Wind”. Hard to ignore Scarlett. She is Julie of “Jezebel” powered up a factor 2 or 3. Again, I do not like her, but that hardly matters. She is a power house.
Joan Crawford in “Mildred Pierce”. A rare noir with a female lead and Male Fatale’s. This genre reversal is still a superb noir and Joan Crawford has never been better.
Barbara Stanwyck in “Stella Dallas”. Frankly it could have been almost any of her roles, she is always at the center of events. In “Stella Dallas” her character has so many facets that we get to see an entire persona for better or worse and it may be her most poignant role.
Louise Brooks in “Die Büchse der Pandora”. Lulu may be an object to the men around her and naïve to boot, but the angle of the film is just a bit different here. We experience the world and tragedy of Lulu from her perspective and Louise Brooke becomes iconic.
Judy Garland in “The Wizard of Oz”. We may not get the deepest insight into Dorothy’s persona, but less can do. She still carries this film and we get to see a world, not from a woman’s but from a child’s perspective. And the singing is divine.
And the winner is:
Joan Crawford in “Mildred Pierce”.
I loved the film, but mostly I was knocked out of my socks by Crawford. The performance is so strong and complete. She is a woman maneuvering in a world full of sharks and she stands up to them and faces them down.