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Added by Xanadon't

on 12 Oct 2010 09:11

51697 Views 6 Comments

Beautiful Damsels in Distress

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People who added this item 4159  Average listal rating (2805 ratings) 6.4  IMDB Rating 7.3 
1. King Kong (2005)

I'll watch absolutely anything if it means I get to see the magnificent Naomi Watts. Fortunately, King Kong also turned out to be surprisingly good. Here's our leading lady one more time in all her splendor:

People who added this item 2297  Average listal rating (1400 ratings) 6.4  IMDB Rating 6.4 
2. Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003)

It's taken me a while to warm up to Robert Rodriguez's work, so maybe a second viewing will improve my opinion of a film I wasn't crazy about the first time around. It generally only takes one look at Salma Hayek to like what I see, however.

People who added this item 951  Average listal rating (592 ratings) 5.3  IMDB Rating 5.2 
3. A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

Remember the name Katie Cassidy. It'll be coming up a lot in the near future. Here she is in the somewhat adequate, but often disappointing Elm Street remake. Not convinced she's all that beautiful?

How about now?

People who added this item 3545  Average listal rating (2283 ratings) 8.3  IMDB Rating 8.6 
4. Psycho (1960)

What kind of list would this be without the beautiful, iconic Janet Leigh starring in the infamous shower scene. Thanks for your keen eye over the years Hitch. Here's a better look:

People who added this item 3571  Average listal rating (2395 ratings) 7.2  IMDB Rating 7.6 
5. The Others (2001)

The Others is a very solid ghost story film, featuring one of the best and most beautiful talents of the last 15 years or so. By now she needs no introduction.

People who added this item 6344  Average listal rating (4189 ratings) 6.7  IMDB Rating 7.3 
6. Spider-Man 2 (2004)

Kirsten Dunst starring in the very definition of a "Damsel in Distress" scene here. I personally had a tougher time than most working up any real excitement over the Spider-Man series. But if over-the-top CGI- friendly comic book actioneers are your thing I suppose Sam Raimi and co. delivers. Don't look now, but it would appear that our damsel got herself trapped again. A super-hero's work is never done.

People who added this item 8525  Average listal rating (5424 ratings) 7  IMDB Rating 7.7 
7. Titanic (1997)

Kate Winslet holds on for dear life in the uber-blockbuster "Titanic". From the looks of things its a wonder she didn't bring that entire icy blue ocean to a boil.

People who added this item 2509  Average listal rating (1618 ratings) 7.5  IMDB Rating 7.8 
8. The Birds (1963)

A true beauty worthy of continuing the "Hitchcock Blonde" image. This later Hitchcock picture would be a bit of a sprawling mess without Tippi to anchor it all down.

People who added this item 4587  Average listal rating (3255 ratings) 7.3  IMDB Rating 7.7 
9. The Fifth Element (1997)

If you haven't yet seen The Fifth Element then you're missing one of the best sci-fi adventures to come out in the last fifteen years. You're also missing a look at one of eastern Europe's finest exports to come along in just as long. She looks vulnerable above, but I'd say she's got the upper hand back now:

People who added this item 735  Average listal rating (474 ratings) 6.2  IMDB Rating 6.5 
10. Slither (2006)

"Big deal", you say? "Who's this woman dressed like my mother", you say. Her name's Elizabeth Banks. Perhaps you'll recognize her now:

People who added this item 263  Average listal rating (179 ratings) 6.3  IMDB Rating 6.5 
11. Them (2006)

You're looking at Olivia Bonamy, lead heroine of the great French Horror/Thriller film "Them". Bonamy is just one of many reasons to see this movie. Till then, here she is again:

People who added this item 660  Average listal rating (364 ratings) 6.1  IMDB Rating 6.4 
12. A Life Less Ordinary (1997)

We've grown accustomed to watching Cameron Diaz escape tricky situations over the years. Here she is in Danny Boyle's "A Life Less Ordinary". Worth a look if you're a Boyle fan, but not essential viewing. Let's check in again with Diaz to make sure she's alright...

Looks like things are a-ok!

People who added this item 2432  Average listal rating (1506 ratings) 8.3  IMDB Rating 8.4 
13. Vertigo (1958)

What a great, great film, and a splendid twist on the whole endagered-damsel-in-the-tower motif. Glad you're still with us Ms. Novak.

People who added this item 1440  Average listal rating (946 ratings) 6.5  IMDB Rating 6.7 
14. Machete (2010)

Take away the gag and... guess what? Jessica Alba is still hot. It's a good thing too, because talent-wise she's the weakest link in this very good film.

People who added this item 4692  Average listal rating (3192 ratings) 7.9  IMDB Rating 8.4 
15. Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983)

Just when the "Damsel in Distress" theme was beginning to become a tired Hollywood cliche, along comes the Gold Bikini to breathe new life into it all. JEDI knight saves beautiful captive princess in GOLD BIKINI. See how original that is?!

People who added this item 782  Average listal rating (536 ratings) 5.8  IMDB Rating 6.2 
16. Vacancy (2007)

Vacancy started with a lot of promise before it painted itself into a corner. Still worth a look and oh yeah, you get to watch Kate Beckinsale.

People who added this item 350  Average listal rating (224 ratings) 6.1  IMDB Rating
17. Bug (2006)

Ashley Judd is just one of many reasons to check out the underrated and overlooked thriller "Bug". She may not look her best in the role of the co-dependent abuse victim we see here...

Now there's the Ashley Judd we've all admired.

People who added this item 467  Average listal rating (315 ratings) 6  IMDB Rating 6.2 
18. The Midnight Meat Train (2008)

Leslie Bibb, the female lead in "Midnight Meat Train". This is actually one of the better American-made horror films to come out in the last few years. (Which isn't saying a whole lot) But it's bloody fun and you get to watch HER. Leslie seemed to be having a rough time of things there, but she's back in the driver's seat now. (Sorry- couldn't be helped)

People who added this item 1873  Average listal rating (1366 ratings) 6.5  IMDB Rating 7.2 
19. Starship Troopers (1997)

Denise Richards stars as a "Roughneck" waging battle against giant alien bugs...and seems to be losing. Though she certainly looks like a winner here:

People who added this item 614  Average listal rating (384 ratings) 5  IMDB Rating 4.8 
20. The Unborn (2009)

You're looking at Odette Yustman, leading knockout in the lackluster American horror remake, The Unborn. Not the worst 2009 horror film I saw, but far from good. If you're a fan of the genre you can justify seeing it for Odette. The rest of you will have to make do with this:

People who added this item 1445  Average listal rating (950 ratings) 7.5  IMDB Rating 7.7 
21. Dark City (1998)

I could go on and on about how great a film I think Dark City is and still may never convince you to watch it. But maybe the classic beauty that is Jennifer Connelly will help?

People who added this item 1202  Average listal rating (792 ratings) 6.2  IMDB Rating 6.5 
22. Red Eye (2005)

Rachel McAdams experiences a bout of terror at 30,000 feet in the thriller Red Eye. Here she's back on the ground but the nightmare's not over yet. Look, this is far from the best thing that Wes Craven has attached his name to, but it allows me the chance to indulge my crush.

People who added this item 1063  Average listal rating (691 ratings) 8  IMDB Rating 8.2 
23. Dial M for Murder (1954)

If Naomi Watts is my favorite thing on two legs making films today, then Grace Kelly takes the honor for yester-year. Here she is in the must-see Hitchcock thriller "Dial M for Murder" That damn prince of Monaco robbed America of a true gem. A stroke atop a windy, cliff-top road robbed the world of Grace some years later.

People who added this item 1756  Average listal rating (1121 ratings) 5.3  IMDB Rating 5.8 
24. Gothika (2003)

There is one compelling reason to see gothika. One.

People who added this item 3086  Average listal rating (2025 ratings) 6.5  IMDB Rating 7.2 
25. Scream (1996)

I wouldn't have included this obvious title but to call attention to my deliberate ommision of Drew Barrymore and Rose McGowan from my list (loathe one, dislike the other- I'll leave you to speculate which is which). And besides, there IS something about Neve Campbell on a good day. Looks like she's having a good day here:

People who added this item 1151  Average listal rating (702 ratings) 7  IMDB Rating 7.1 
26. Secretary (2002)

This one's a bit of a stretch, but I couldn't resist the chance to proclaim my admiration for both this film and for Maggie Gyllenhaal. At any rate it's good to see her back in the sun.

People who added this item 757  Average listal rating (503 ratings) 5.3  IMDB Rating 5.6 
27. Cabin Fever (2002)

Yikes! "Distress" is putting it mild. Jordan Ladd stars here as 'extra-dead girl' Guess her knight in shining armor was running late. Truth be told, I've never seen Cabin Fever, and probably never will. Why would you do that to her, Eli Roth? Here's a better last impression:

People who added this item 715  Average listal rating (494 ratings) 5.4  IMDB Rating 5.5 
28. Piranha 3D (2010)

This is the lovely Elisabeth Shue holding on for her life in this surprisingly satisfying, shamelessly lewd gore-fest of a creature feature. Apparently she worked up her own appetite warding off all those hungry fish.

People who added this item 6612  Average listal rating (4350 ratings) 7.7  IMDB Rating 8.2 
29. V for Vendetta (2005)

She can do beautiful, she can do bald, she can do funny, she can do wholsome, and yes, if there was any doubt, she can do sexy. Of course I'm speaking of Natalie Portman.

People who added this item 861  Average listal rating (605 ratings) 5.7  IMDB Rating 6.1 
30. Wrong Turn (2003)

Wrong Turn was nowhere near as bad as I figured it would be. In fact I rather liked it. And Eliza Dushku isn't too tough on the eyes. You'd HAVE to be a monster to inflict harm on this:


The "damsel in distress" is a classic theme that has run through literature, art, and film for ages. We often think of a beautiful princess locked away in a tower reaching toward the clouds, waiting for her knight in shining armor to come rescue her. This damsel has become a stock character over the centuries and encompasses many variations.

Here I use the term rather loosely in many cases, often looking toward the horror genre, a style of film that has embraced the damsel in distress over the years, though as (more?) often than not her rescue never arrives.

Photographs/images of women in a state of terror or distress have, for better or worse, become something of a visible and permeating social motif, especially in popular culture. Debates that bring in ideas revolving around feminism, patriarchy, and hero-worship can be heard today in various circles. This is something that has fascinated me and piqued my curiosity over the years and I suppose this list is a result.

I hope you enjoy this list as much as I enjoyed making it. I present two seperate images in the case of each actress, and offer both from a sense of respect and awe.

Comments and suggestions are of course welcome and encouraged. Thanks for viewing!

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Posted: 4 years, 5 months ago at Apr 1 1:01
damn it with these damsels
Posted: 4 years, 5 months ago at Apr 1 2:39
Brilliant list, how scary do they look before you see them all done up !
Posted: 4 years, 2 months ago at Jun 25 4:45
Not much of a fan of the whole damsel in distress thing, in fact I far prefer Kick-Ass Females as my list of the same name shows, but I love this list. Witty, original, and entertaining. Vote earned.
Edit: 4 years, 2 months ago
Posted: 4 years ago at Sep 2 17:28
Great List You Rock!
Posted: 3 years, 3 months ago at May 15 17:12
Jennifer Lawrence in The House at the End of the Street.
Alexandra Daddario in Bereavement
Mary Elizabeth Winstead in Final Destination 3
Posted: 2 years, 9 months ago at Nov 28 5:18
A totally sexist but all too common theme.

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