I love great movies. One of the best times to me is snuggling up with my husband and our two dogs for movie day. It’s even better if it’s storming, raging rain outside and we’ve got soup simmering or sauce on the stove. We’ll pop some popcorn and settle in for a movie marathon. So wonderful!
As a writer, I’m attuned to good writing — especially when I watch a movie or try to find something on television.
Some scenes — thanks to great writers and actors are so noteworthy, they become part of popular culture. We always remember them. We watch and it’s as if it’s real; it takes us away, we escape — like we do when we’re reading a great novel.
Below are a few of my favs as far as female actors, either going a bit batty, serving up some delicious evil or displaying emotions so effectively it goes into my category of Great Writing and Daring Dames.
Terms of Endearment, Shirley MacLaine
Adapted from the novel by Larry McMurtry
Remember the scene when she screams at the nurses to give her dying daughter, Emma the shot to relieve her pain? As her daughter’s health worsens, Aurora (MacLaine) goes from perfectly-coiffed woman to someone who just wants her daughter to live. She’s got these gray roots growing out, doesn’t give a s**t how she looks or what anyone thinks. Oh, that scene gets me. I sob every time I watch this movie — every time.
Watch it here.
Waiting to Exhale, Angela Basset
Adapted from the novel by Terry McMillan
This righteous fury — Basset nailed it! She’s all crazed out, hair slinging and flying around, stomping and yelling while gathering up her cheating hubby’s belongings into a heap inside his car, then screeches out of the driveway, pours lighter fluid all over it, lights that cigarette and throws it on the car and just walks away while it’s blazing. I get goosebumps. Watch the scene here.
Notes on a Scandal, Cate Blanchett & Judi Dench
Adapted from the novel by Zoë Heller
This movie/book has everything: scandal, forbidden and obsessive love, dramatic family situations. The scene where Sheba (Cate Blanchett) confronts the weird spinster obsessive and creepy Barbara (Judi Dench) is stellar. Cate Blanchett, with her raccoon-mascaraed insane eyes and pale skin slaps the woman that has a part in revealing her illicit affair with a student (15 years old!) and destroys her already shaky marriage/life. Cate Blanchett has mascara bleeding and clumping down her face and attacks Dench — Blanchett loses it completely — this is Oscar-level performances here. Watch the scene here.
All About Eve, Bette Davis
Writer/Director, Joseph Mankiewicz, based on short story written by by Mary Orr, The Wisdom of Eve
Haven’t seen this one in forever but it’s about Broadway actors and Davis plays an aging actress with a young understudy just waiting to take over and get her chance. The scene where Davis is at a cocktail party and she downs that martini and has a cigarette in her hand, just puffing away. She flaunts off and begins walking up the staircase, then turns and says one of the most famous lines ever: Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night. Watch it here.
I swear I’m going to do this at some point in my life before I die.
Fatal Attraction, Glenn Close
Screenplay by James Dearden
There’s so many great scenes here; when obsessive Alex (Glenn Close) sits in her apartment in a white tee-shirt flicking the light on and off listening to opera. Spiral down…the scene where she tells Dan with those nutty eyes, “I’m not going to be ignored, Dan.” (Michael Douglas). Then, she wanders into the bathroom when Beth (Anne Archer) is trying to take a bath….”What are you doing here?” she asks Beth, while she jabs herself in the leg with that big butcher knife. Oooh, scary.
Things don’t end up well for Alex. Of course, Beth has to take care of it all — finally. Watch it here.
Other ones: Kathy Bates in Misery (written by Steven King) and Meryl Streep and Cher in Silkwood, screenplay by Nora Ephron and Alice Arlen.
What are your favorite femme fatales? They all first began as an idea in a writer’s head.