Friday, April 13, 2012

"Baby Peggy" at age 94


When I fell for Peggy Montgomery, she was maybe 5. I just saw her again today -- almost ninety years later, alive and well.

Every time my kids drag me to an of-the-moment crapcorn movie like Hunger Games, I  have to remind myself that they've been more than patient when shown many vintage black-and-white movies -- even silents -- in fact, have actually often embraced them.

No more so than when we stumbled upon Helen's Babies. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Face Facts

I recently saw, on a big screen at The Egyptian, the original Thomas Crown Affair, starring Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway. While I was entertained and dazzled by the hijinks and romance, my biggest takeaway was Dunaway's face in epic closeups: It was pockmarked by chicken pox scars -- something you'd never, ever see today, in the era of HD TV -- and yet still beautiful.  Moreso, for its humanity.

Dame Maggie, Wrinkled Goddess
My friend and colleague Cinque had an opposite, but related, reaction when watching PBS's Downton Abbey: "what American actress would let herself age like Maggie Smith? Name one!" He loved how wrinkled and jowly Smith was as the Dowager Countess [right].

The advent of HDTV has made even younger people Botox and "fill" every facial line -- most sitcoms now look peopled with Barbie dolls.

I recently saw the movie Friends with Kids and couldn't ever fully engage because I kept being distracted by the obvious facial work undergone by the star, Jennifer Westfeldt [left]. Born in 1970, Westfeldt -- who also wrote and directed -- goes through the entire movie without her forehead ever moving. She looks nothing like her real self as seen in Kissing Jessica Stein. 

Fittingly, when the Today show did a piece attacking actress plastic surgery centered on the admission and regret of actress Emmanuelle Béart, the program showed a "before surgery" photo of Dirty Dancing actress Jennifer Grey -- and her "after" photo was mistakenly one of Westfeldt. They are all starting to look the same, when what we liked about them in the first place was their distinctiveness.


Dunaway, so iconically gorgeous in Bonnie and Clyde, Network, Chinatown, and Three Days of the Condor, is one of the stars whose face is no longer quite her own. Last summer, at age 70, she was awarded by a reader poll "Worst Plastic Surgery" at the Cannes Film Festival.  [Below] 
Society itself is really to blame, if someone who was comfortable with being an imperfect 26 year old feels obliged to mess with her earned septuagenarian visage.

This was reinforced today when actress Ashley Judd, whose "facial puffiness" in recent public appearances fell under massive international scrutiny, felt compelled to publish a retort in The Daily Beast: