Beautiful Damsels in Distress
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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:
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.
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?
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
"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:
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:
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!
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.
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.
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?!
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.
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.
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)
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:
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:
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?
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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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