Monday, July 27, 2009

Five important skill sets for aspiring actresses of the early 1970s

Sure, you’ve taken acting classes. You’ve enrolled in art school, studied at the feet of Uta Hagen, tested your mettle in avant-garde off-Broadway productions. But now you’re trying to make it in the movies, and none of that makes one lick of difference. We’re living in the ‘70s now, ladies, and all of that hoity-toity training has exactly zero bearing on the way real movies get made. If you want to know the actual scoop, take a look at this brief overview of the true skills any thoroughly modern actress needs to break into this beautiful business we call show.

Dancing spasmodically

The era being what it is, the odds are pretty good that your movie is going to involve some dancing. Your producer is a cynical creep in his sixties, and he believes that you’ve got to include a drugged-up go-go dancing scene if you want your picture to appeal to the kids. He may even have procured the services of some supposed up-and-coming rock band looking to spotlight their new single on the big screen. In any event, you should be able to flail and gyrate more or less in rhythm with the band, preferably while wearing a tight polyester microdress. Keep in mind that there’s a fairly good chance you’ll be called on to dance while simulating the effects of a psychedelic drug trip. Also, you may be topless, which brings us to our next category.

Having weird breasts

Maybe some day in the future, audiences will demand full, flawless, perfectly formed breasts in their nude scenes. As of today, though, strange-looking bosoms are the name of the game. Are yours pointy, low-hanging or barely tangible? Are your nipples strikingly large or dark, or do they point off at bizarre angles? If so, off with that top! And don’t ask if your nudity is integral to the plot. Nudity is integral to all plots. Haven’t you ever seen a movie before? And speaking of nudity…

Playing rape scenes

Look, we know it’s ugly and exploitive and potentially traumatizing. But hey, audiences today are a bunch of sickos, so whattaya gonna do? It’s a brand new era, and rape-as-entertainment is the latest thing. The kids who buy tickets to the drive-in feel cheated if they don’t get at least a little bit of the rough stuff. Hell, this is the ‘70s – the only company not playing the rape card these days is Disney, and even there you’ve got that pervert Bob Crane doing God knows what behind the scenes. So grin and bear it, and trust that your director is going to handle the scene with a tasteful, artistic touch. Or maybe not, because the producer says that kind of artsy shit doesn’t put asses in the seats. Well, whatever. You can chalk it up as a form of feminist statement or some such.


You’d think this one would be a no-brainer, right? You’re a woman in the movies – of course you’re going to be doing some screaming! But you’d be surprised how many girls come through the door with no clue on how to let go with a real blood-curdling shriek. Chances are pretty close to 100% that you’re going to spend the bulk of your screen time being chased by axe murderers, discovering dead bodies, having drug freak-outs and, as we’ve already discussed, being raped. You’re going to need a quality set of pipes to adequately express your consternation at the myriad misfortunes that continually befall you. If you need some motivation for mustering real horror, meditate on your next task.

Faking attraction to Charles Bronson

Look, every young actress wants to star opposite Robert Redford right off the bat. But Bob doesn’t do the kind of movies you’re working on, and the odds are that you’re never going to be working on the kinds of movies he’s in. No, one of your most important tasks will be using your sex appeal to distract the audience from the thorough unattractiveness of the male lead. Try to wrap your head around it by degrees. Lee Marvin might be your best-case scenario: not a good-looking dude by most standards, but he’s a tall, strong guy with a certain blue-collar Irish appeal. Or maybe consider George Kennedy, another big, meaty fella who won’t be gracing any pin-up calendars, but who carries himself with a confidence that passes for charm. If you’re really scraping bottom, you might end up in a Ross Hagen movie. Sure, Hagen could charitably be described as poor man’s Steve McQueen, but many a starlet has found herself powerless in the face of his wooden anti-charisma.

If you can imagine yourself lost in a soft-focus sex scene with any of those guys, you may be almost ready to scale Mount Bronson. That’s right, through some quirk of time and space, that mumble-mouthed, beady-eyed, saggy-faced geezer has become a viable leading man. There’s a distinct possibility you’re going to find Chuck’s mustachioed lips pressed to yours in the near future, and you’re going to have to act like it’s exactly what you’ve been dreaming of for your entire young, nubile, frequently topless life.

Welcome to Hollywood, ladies!


  1. Preemptive strike here: I know that the actress pictured above, Jill Ireland, actually went so far as to marry Charles Bronson, and was therefore presumably genuinely attracted to him. I also know that "From Noon 'Til Three" was released in 1976 and therefore doesn't really qualify as a film of early '70s.

    But what do you want from me? For some unfathomable reason, pictures of Bronson in romantic repose are hard to come by on the internet.

  2. Cat Moore turned me on to your blog.

    I laughed so hard a peed a little.

    Actually, I didn't actually laugh out loud... it was a part of my internal dialog.... and I didn't really pee... it was more like psychic-pee. But I did have the emotional equivalent of laughing till I peed.

    I like your blog.


  3. I can't ask for better than that comment.