Friday, October 12, 2012

#40: Dracula

Starring: Bela Lugosi, Helen Chandler, Dwight Frye
Dir: Tod Browning (1931)

Happy Halloween! Ah-ah-ah! To celebrate the season I am examining the classic Dracula starring Bela Lugosi, a man whose cupid's bow could put Clara Bow's to shame, also known for being scary, also known for drinking milk at society functions (seriously). I'll be up front with you, I'm knocking this Halloween stuff out but quick. Movies like this often defy my particular brand of analysis (high-waisted pants? song and dance numbers? Hays-era dirty jokes? none of those? REALLY??) and I feel the critiquing of anything pre-1935 is better left to Film Students. **TBH, I could sort of throw in the towel on the whole blog with that kind of reasoning, but I don't. I feel highly qualified to discuss the hotness of men relative to the height of their pants; yes, there will be an illustrated post on that hotness spectrum coming at some point. Someday. Be patient.**

BUT. To the task at hand.

I should confess before we begin that it was in fact kind of thrilling to watch Dracula and realize that this guy was not doing a parody of himself, he was the real deal. The original talking Count Dracula! Apparently back in the day moviegoers could be scared quite effectively by slow-talking, slow-moving villains who smiled primly in their closeups. For a modern-day viewer, there are quite a few things to adjust to with this brand of horror. "Not being scared" may be high on that list.

We open with a beautiful painted backdrop of the mountains of Transylvania. I will be including lots of screencaps in this post in lieu of any meaningful commentary or plot summary because I'm lazy. Look how pretty this painted backdrop is! Here:
They know not that they near their doom.
The man destined to become Dracula's main minion, Renfield, is in that carriage. He has no idea what's coming. Let's lol at his misfortune!

Future minion has some scary ~*realtor business*~ at Castle Dracula and all the people in town are like "ARE YOU STUPID OR WHAT" but he insists on going, so they give him a cross and some advice like "Don't get eaten" and he goes off to meet his special carriage that will take him to the castle doors. The guy driving his carriage looks like this and is obviously Dracula the vampire.
Apparently before they had fancy special-effects red contacts for vampires you just had to open your eyes really wide.
Renfield gets dropped off at Castle Dracula where the first thing to strike fear into his heart is the presence of rats and the howling of wolves, and the second thing is, you guessed it: ARMADILLOS.
Enduring symbols of death, weeble-wobbling on their tiny feet as your heart constricts in fear!
Then Dracula comes out to (re-)introduce himself and Renfield is all, "Hey Dracs, LOVE the cape. I bet you're definitely not a vampire." Although you feel kinda bad for this guy because he is obviously just sitting there like "GOTTA DANCE!" while Dracula thinks "I'm nomming on you tonight."
Also: How are you supposed to tell vampires apart from regular folks in this movie when everyone wears the same white pancake makeup?

 Here are some stairs. Aren't you glad I take pictures of everything?
Cool shot of gross spidery stairs.
Anyway, so Renfield and Dracula get down to business with Dracula being all, "Here's your bed (*pat pat*) here's your creepy secret door, and here's your dinner. I thought you might be hungry, so I made you some candles."
Renfield apparently is some sort of realtor hooking Dracula up with a property in England. I'm definitely glossing over plot points here because nothing is important and, much like the rest of this film, this scene is mostly made up of Renfield alternating fearful looks with inexplicable cheer and chumminess toward Dracula. Everybody does this. I guess the idea is that they know he's evil but he has some hold on them anyway? It's gotta be the peepers.
These eyes say "SAFETY" and "ROMANCE."
My favorite part of this scene is when Renfield hands Dracula the papers and he just holds onto them for a second like he's confused. I'm thinking, "Ooh! Ooh! This means something! Vampires can't do signatures? Vampires can’t read leases? Is something about this supposed to be giving him away as a vampire??" But no, it's just a nice long pause. Everything's fine.
"It's half in English, half in... squiggly."
Then Renfield takes the lease back and cuts himself on a paperclip. I'm only including this because of the useful Twilight comparison. Real OG Vampire Dracula just moonwalks over very smoothly to check it out, but nothing crazy happens. Bella Swan would be totally safe around this guy! Nobody even got thrown at a piano, and nobody was listening to Sea Wolf when it happened! Verdict: Cullens are reactionary pussies.
Dude has a janky manicure, though.
We end things with a nice nightcap, of which Dracula conspicuously does not partake. It's not awkward though, because Renfield is back to being an idiot - right before he passes out, anyway, because the drink is obviously drugged and HAS THIS GUY EVER HEARD OF NOSFERATU BEFORE??
"No thank you. I am a teetotaller, much like my role model, Benjamin Fangklin."
Renfield gets konked out, Dracula noms on some blood, and now he has a new minion. I'll be honest, the subtleties of the victim/minion arrangement were lost on me in this movie. Renfield sort of goes crazy and starts eating bugs, and Dracula can speak to him telepathically and make him do stuff. But nobody else seems to do that. It's very inconsistent. Here's a picture of Renfield being crazy to speed things up a little bit:
Seriously, what newly minted vampire eats bugs? Just imagine how much better the Twilight saga would have been if Edward Cullen gave Bella a Timon and Pumba-style initiation into the undead underworld; "tastes like chicken"; musical montage; etc. Sweeeeeeeeet.

Anyway. The whole point of Renfield was to get Dracula some property in England, so off they go on a boat, which I guess was totally normal at the time. En route to England, Dracula obviously has to eat everybody on the boat and since Renfield is the only one spared and is and now totally batshit, he gets taken to a sanatorium when they reach land. Dracula just hands him over to simplify things. Yes, you can apparently glide blithely off a boat filled with dead people and nobody will question you, as long as you're Dracula. (Male privilege much?!?) So now Dracula is a free agent in England and after doing the totally predictable touristy thing of eating a poor little flower girl (who honestly only has herself to blame because he descended so damn slowly she probably could have just sidestepped slightly and he'd have overbalanced) he goes to chat up the owner of the sanatorium Renfield's been installed in, and hits on his daughters. Apparently the property our charismatic count has just bought is adjacent to the sanatorium, which is why this introduction takes place, but I really don't know a good reason why any of this is happening. I do know that there's a point in here for the gentlemen, however: When making someone’s acquaintance for the first time, make sure to mention how much you long for true death. Don't wait for the topic to arise naturally, just go for it. Girls will admire this winning combination of gutsiness and sensitivity and find the whole thing totally hot. You won't find truth bombs like this in Cosmo! Anyway, up to date, here's Dracula and the dude who owns the sanatorium and the dude's two hot daughters, and some other guy.
Also a brief interlude, since I'm clearly distractable at this point, to check out the hottentot second from left.
John is one girl's boyfriend (brunette on the left) so naturally he'll be the one running around all consternated and brave when she gets minionized by Dracula and is in mortal peril. But that's coming later. No it's not, I'm fast-forwarding.

So Dracula kills the blonde girl outright but he just nibbles on the brunette and minionizes her (definitely how it works). Then he shows up at their house again later and is like "Hello, my darling," and she is obviously enchanted by him and everyone in the room becomes very uncomfortable. Professor Van Helsing from the sanatorium is there (known vampire-hunter, blah blah blah) and does a cool little mirror trick to see if Dracula is a vampire. I am leaving out leaps and bounds of the plot but you shouldn't mind because what did you expect. Basically "strange things have been happening" and "that Renfield wacko keeps eating live spiders" and "Count Dracula seems suspicious no wait we love him WE LOVE HIM!" and Van Helsing is on the case! Look at this sweet mirror shot:
Ahhhh best use of a mirrored cigar box ever!
(Professor Van Helsing:)
Hugh Jackman is old in this movie!
But as time passes, minionized girlfriend is getting dangerous! She makes this face at John one day when they're on the ~veranda~ and while I don't blame her for staring, because, hello, JOHN, she is technically being kinda scary and maybe Dracula is telling her to eat him through telepathic mindfluffery? At this point I assume Dracula has, like, customizable minion-creating options because this lady has not eaten a single grub. But she has DANGER EYES. Van Helsing notices and waves some wolfsbane at her and she freaks out and he's like "Hunch: confirmed." (List of things vampires hate: leases, wolfsbane, moving above 2.5mph.)
Okay back to the storymabob, because at this very moment Renfield is being instructed telepathically by Dracula to secure the brunette seen above for even more nefarious ends. The privilege of a daddy vampire is apparently to telepathically control his minions and make them go eat all the people. Isn't that lazy! Also, isn't Dracula hungry? Again, I'm not exactly sure how this even works, so bear with me here. Renfield, thanks to Dracula's brainpower, is being told to go get brunette lady for some nighttime nomming down in the ground. He gets very sad about this and there's a scene of him at the window begging Dracula not to make him do it.
Anyway, Dracula winds up doing his own dirty work at the last minute like a douchebag and kidnaps girlfriend and the whole household freaks out and a maid faints and Renfield who could have kept his hands clean goes crazy and eats his very first human person!
Very cool shot. Also this maid just did an awesome fake faint.
Bad news bears. So now Van Helsing is like, "LISTEN UP EVERYBODY, DUDE IS DEFINITELY A VAMPIRE," and John is all concerned and on the case -- pause for a moment to look at another picture of John --
stud muufasdsduefghghghhffin.
and they run off to Dracula's place, and there is some chasing up and down stairs and the whole thing ends very quickly. I'll slap on some more screenshots.

Renfield, overcome with guilt after his cheat day meal of Somebody's Maid, has led John and Van Helsing to the bowels of Dracula's dwelling. Confronting Dracula on the stairs, he is once more overpowered by Dracula/Bela Lugosi's improbable personal charisma and begs forgiveness for his betrayal. The betrayal lasted all of sixty seconds but apparently requires a screaming speech to atone for. This is the setup and it's very pretty:
Dracula, moving very slowly, kills Renfield anyway. There are probably sixty quality seconds of Renfield begging for mercy that could have been spent running away. Anyway.
Death by angry hug!
As John and Van Helsing burst into the dungeon, daylight is just creeping in through the cracks. Right! Daylight! A real vampire thing this movie cares about! Dracula runs off with now-uncharacteristic speed and hustles himself and girlfriend into some very, very un-hidden coffins. They are straight-up right on top of the ground. This lack of foresight proves to be Dracula's mortal flaw. After about thirty seconds of toodling around the castle, Van Helsing finds them, because, well, DUH, and he merrily whacks Dracula with a stake and all's well that suddenly ends well.
Dracula probably thinks that if he closes his eyes no-one can see him?
Girlfriend is freed from the evil minion bond when Dracula dies, and her eyes go un-crazy and she gets to reunite with John like so. Lucky bitch.
And then that's the end!

Welp. Not sure what to say about this movie other than that it was very stylistically pretty and hopelessly un-scary, so I'll decline to give it a star rating. But I will recommend that you watch it for the experience of seeing such an original movie villain doing his thing... if only to enhance your appreciation for contemporary horror. Or enhance your disgust for the Twilight franchise (real vampires are slow and wear waistcoats!). Or obliterate any respect you had for filmgoing audiences of a century ago. Any of those things could happen.

As always, you're welcome for more of my timeless brand of screencapping and blather. See you next time!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

#39: Carousel

Starring: Shirley Jones and Gordon MacRae
Dir: Henry King (1956)

Last week was Oscar Hammerstein II's centennial, so naturally I have to pay my respects. I've decided that the best way to do that is by watching an R&H musical I haven't seen before. I've always avoided Carousel because of the whole death/bittersweet ending thing, which is not typically what I go for in a musical, especially if the dead person is cute. But, you know, time to be a grown up. We sometimes have to see things we don't like in this life... and sometimes those things are Gordon MacRae getting pudgy.

This will make a lot more sense if you've seen Carousel.

0:00 Popping in DVD... OMG synopsis says it is set in a little town on the coast of Maine! Little town on the coast of Maine! This is SERENDIPITOUS. This is PERFECT. I have to watch it YESTERDAY.


0:13 "Sluts? Slut yourself!" "Slut yourself!" This movie has a dirty mouth.

0:14 Also, Bigelow/gigolo - is that as obvious as I think it is, or am I digging?

0:19 So not a fan of this guy right now. I mean, sexy, but what an ASS.

0:19 (Shoutout to Bangor!)

0:21 Nooooooo girl no!! Flashbacks to my days of poor decision-making.
I know, I know, he's super-cute right now. But USE YOUR HEAD.
0:23 SO not the right time for this song. I don't even like him yet.


0:25 If you don't want to marry and you don't want to have a bad reputation WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH THE BIGEGIGOLO? Go live in a cave.

0:27 Oh cute. Billy's a philosopher. "The breeze is in the air, like my spirit, which is both sad and horny."

0:28 I do love his voice, though.

0:31 Okay he's hot. Wait FADE OUT FADE OUT?! Marriage then sex? Sex then marriage? IT MATTERS! I HAVE TO KNOW!

0:33 Lobsters!

0:33 Clambake!

0:33 A whale of a time!


0:36 Nothing but hot hipster fishermen as far as the eye can see. Donde esta Jacques?
0:38 Okay more men finally... WHERE.

0:40 Temporarily entertained by cutest barefoot man dancing/flirtation EVER. Okay now shirtless too. Noiiiiiice.

0:41 OMG shirtless sailor quad-group jump squatting???

0:41 This is epic on a Seven Brides scale only my homobarometer is, like, breaking. Notice how they're all sitting on each other's shoulders while the girls prance forgotten on the roof?

0:42 (Yeah the girls are catching on.)

0:45 Oh I'm sorry, did sex not SOLVE ALL YOUR PROBLEMS? Did sex not MAKE HIM LOVE YOU? OH THAT'S WEIRD.

0:46 Whoa, sex and sluts and wifebeaters in this movie? How... progressive... (oh durr prostitues) (nvm totes not progressive)

0:51 "Put on a new coat of paint. You're starting to peel, old pleasure-boat." ZING! (Remember this one.)

0:56 What the what. Oh my Lord.

0:57 She's pregnant and that... that did it... somehow I guess... I just don't know what the what MEN.


I should probably sing the word "death" a few more times. "DEATH DEATH DEATH, DIE DIE! DIE DuDIE!!!!! Ha-HA!"
1:13 Sweet holy clambake! Lobster buffet!... Dumb. Ass. Song.
But, you know, totally Maine-appropriate, right down to the play-by-play from plate to gullet.

1:15 Can you dance after eating a lobster? I can't.

1:18 OMG this Jigger-man is the perviest thing ever! Ever! Stop! He is like an Ali Hakim but sinister-er!

1:24 "What's the Use of Wond'rin'," or, "Spineless and How to Be It."

1:30 Oh I get it. The knife dangling from his shirt has stabbed him. They need to make this stuff clearer.

1:31 Why does Gordon get stabbed in all his movies?

1:32 Gordon. Gordon, baby. When you die you're supposed to stop breathing.

1:33 Also, Shirley. You should maybe cry or scream or something. Or were people dying from stab wounds all the time in Maine back in the day? Like, no biggie, internal bleeding, have a nice day.

1:34 Gordon, even in death your hair is so fly.

1:35 Getting so bored I wanna fastforward. (Now she cries.)

1:39 "We'd argue and she'd be right, so I'd hit her." OH STARTLING INSIGHT. New sympathy for the abusive man. Edward Cullen, take heed.

1:42 Wait. I want to frolic, too...


1:47 ZOMG JACQUES!!!!!!! (*Edit: I originally screencapped the shit out of this dream sequence, but my computer ate everything. As a result, this post sucks. I apologize.)

1:47 I saw him! I saw him! I saw him before the lights came up even! Those cheekbones could cut glass! My heart is dying!

1:49 Mom. Why wasn't I a ballerina.

1:51 (So sexy much can't talk sorry.)

1:52 Um, yeah girl. What's your problem?
I found this screencap on the internet. Mine were better.

1:52 Srsly he's actually touching you. CHEER UP.

1:53 (Okay now I get why she's crying.) COME BACK JACQUESsSSSSssdsdasdads

1:56 Back to boring grown-ups. Lol we have too many kids!


2:01 "Is it possible for someone to hit you and not have it hurt at all? Let me answer that with a song, my child..."

2:03 Ok so if Shirley didn't look so Amish matron this would actually be totally moving.

2:06 I always try not to be "skeered."

2:06 Gordon zooming in at the finish bein' all sincere 'n sexy! (*Edit: Another conspicuously missing screencap.)

2:07 We all say things we don't mean at graduation.

2:08 Okay it's over! The end! Hit away, husbands! The end!

STARS: 2.5 of 5. The music is pretty much whatever (with the obvious exceptions of "If I Loved You" and "You'll Never Walk Alone") (happy birthday, Oscar!), the springtime dancing is cool I guess, and I do give major props to any Technicolor musical with a lengthy ballet sequence. Also, Jacques D'Amboise. Just... that guy. But otherwise... hated it.

#38: Charade

Starring: Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, Walter Matthau
Dir: Stanley Donen (1963)

I apologize in advance for not having taken enough notes, but I do remember the important bits.

1) This is definitely my favorite Audrey era.
2) Why? Because she gets to be a smartass.
3) And sexy - I'm sorry, but that scene in the elevator when she interrupts Cary Grant mid-sentence with her gloved hand touching the cleft in his chin and asks, "How do you shave in there?"?!?!? Take notes, fees.
Google Image is totally backing me up on this.
4) True confessions: at this point Cary Grant is definitely past his sexy expiration date for me. However, I don't really mind - he's still fantastic.
5) That said, HE COULD TOTALLY BE GAY IN THIS MOVIE. Think about it! It makes all the sense in the WORLD! I mean, he avoids touching Regina and all he has to tell her is how difficult it is to keep his hands off her... very clever.
6) Also, this ensemble:
My eyeliner stays flawless when I sleep, too.
Regarding the plot -- I don't care, you can IMDB it.
It was an adorable, adorable movie with a nice surprise ending, but most importantly it taught me that you don't always have to be scared if your husband gets murdered. Sometimes you can just brush it off, and everything will be fine.

Stars: 4.5 of 5

Thursday, March 29, 2012


SO exciting!! My sister Bri and I co-wrote a piece on the cost of college for working-class kids and The Chronicle of Higher Education published it!! Here's the link:

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

#37: To Have and Have Not

Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Walter Brennan
Dir: Howard Hawks (1944)

Almost every scene of this movie made me feel like I was a little kid back at my grandma's house, watching Baby & Bogey movies taped off the television with my sisters. It was some potent nostalgia, folks - I almost put a pillow over my face when they started kissing, but then I remembered I'm not five.

The scenes with Eddy in particular had the exact same effect on me. He still made me want to cry like the pharmacist in It's a Wonderful Life - "Why is the nice old man sad, Mommy? Why did his son have to die? Why does he shake his leg like that?"
Well. It's worth asking: What's changed since then?
Looks like it's just The Maltese Falcon all over again, guys. This movie is full of sex and I had no idea. (See also: Much Ado About Nothing -- and that was a damn near critical plot point, too.)

Harry Morgan (Humphrey Bogart) makes a living on the island of Martinique renting out a fishing boat he runs with his super-alcoholic buddy Eddy (Walter Brennan), and when they're hard up for cash Harry reluctantly takes a super-dangerous job for the French resistance and things get all kinds of problematic. Slim (Lauren Bacall) moves into the same hotel and she isn't exactly a prostitute but she sort of dabbles, and she comes on to Harry like hella hard, and basically this movie is stressful and the fat French policeman is HORRIBLE and I can't tell if it's because he is a horrible actor or if overall he is just HORRIBLE anyway (I just re-watched some scenes and that accent is like a parody of itself. It must be a combination of both), but anyway what I care about more is Bogey and Bacall, and let me just say LOTS of cigarettes (remember?) and LOTS of awesomeness. And Bogey totally pistol-whips a bitch.

Blah blah people get interrogated and slapped around and it's all very unfair and totally oppressive and stuff, and it makes you never want to travel just in case somebody takes all your money and then hits you because you were simply in the wrong cafe when some dude got shot. Also, dark and panicky late-night boat travel. Really, I hate this story. It stresses me out beyond belief and I'd rather not think about it. It involves all my black-and-white kryptonite: old-timey politics, sad substance abusers, corrupt authorities, and sympathetic characters that are all very morally misguided which makes my brain VERY confused and sad. For what it's worth, the ending is mostly safe and happy but before we get there it is like Casablanca-level OOOOOH NOOOOOOOO!

But, distracting screencaps!
One fun part of this stress party is when Slim starts working as a lounge singer at the hotel she and Harry live in. In her debut performance, she makes this face at him:

And he responds with this:
Recovered yet? Check out more badassery:
"See that? It broke as easy as you will."

Slim: "Give her my love."
Harry: "I'd give her my own if she had that on."
(Oh yeah Hoagy Carmichael is totally in this movie too! Being every character he ever played in a movie ever, a.k.a. nice trustworthy piano-playing brotherly figure.)
"Save it."
OUCH. Wouldn't you just cry if sexy Harry Bogey Morgan was sitting there looking all nautical and badass and he WOULDN'T LET YOU KISS HIM IN PUBLIC?!?

I'll let you explore that hypothetical situation on your own. Don't be surprised if you dissolve in a pool of disappointment and nausea.

Stars: 4 of 5 at least for quality but 5 out of 5 for how much it stresses me out.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

"Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get - only with what you are expecting to give - which is everything. What you will receive in return varies. But it really has no connection with what you give. You give because you love and you cannot help giving. If you are very lucky, you may be loved back. That is delicious but it does not necessarily happen.
It really implies total devotion.  And total is all-encompassing - the good of you, the bad of you. I am aware that I must include the bad.
...I have no idea how Spencer felt about me. I can only say I think that if he hadn't liked me he wouldn't have hung around. As simple as that."
- Katharine Hepburn, Me: Stories of My Life

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

"I never got very close to anyone in the theatre or movies. I suppose it was because I was a member of a big family and I always tried to get enough sleep."
-Katharine Hepburn, Me: Stories of My Life

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Where were they?

I like birthdays generally, but they're not a huge deal to me. I'm not a party person or a presents person, so there's little to do. I figure a year is a year.
This year, however, I turned twenty. Twenty is a big deal, right? Right! ANALYSIS TIME!
I sat down a few days in a row during my birthday week and tried to think seriously about this new development, but I couldn't come up with much. Yeah, a person's twenties are supposed to be exciting, but I feel like I've already gotten a lot of the exciting stuff under way -- leaving school, moving out, supporting myself in a new city. One is supposed to do a lot of growing and changing during their third decade, but that's hard to qualify and plan for until you've really gotten the ball rolling on something besides aaaahhh I'm not in college. What that ultimately means, then, at least for me, is that thinking hard about one's twenties is... hard.

So. With nothing much to go on, rather than dwell on the uninspiring blank slate of my own life, I've looked elsewhere for inspiration - to history! The ladies who had gone before me, ladies I love and admire. What were they doing at my stage of life? Where were they at age twenty? I've gone to them for advice and to learn from their experiences. I just want a jumping-off point, something to give me perspective.

(Spoiler alert:
Shouldn't have asked.)

Turns out,

Jean Seberg, with whom I have felt a kinship ever since she inspired my drastic sophomore year haircut, was making her first film (Bonjour Tristesse) and looked like this:

Lauren Bacall made To Have and Have Not AND hung out with Hoagy Carmichael AND fell in love with Humphrey Bogart - what a year. Bogey fell right back; maybe it had something to do with that line about whistling? Of course she also looked pretty good. She was twenty, I mean, everyone's done looking awkward and frumpy at twenty! We all look like this:

Deanna Durbin had her first grown-up movie role in her third decade. She made the switch from teen queen to full-grown woman at age twenty, probably much to her relief. A decidedly more grown-up movie to follow was Christmas Holiday with Gene Kelly, but the breakthrough that came first was It Started With Eve, co-starring the passably cute Robert Cummings:

Joan Crawford made her Hollywood debut and knocked out eight films at age twenty. She had nothing to recommend her but her Charleston and snagged mostly uncredited roles as a dancer or extra.

Myrna Loy got started at twenty, too. She made five films in her first year, also playing background characters. Myrna was typecast for a long time as a vamp or "exotic" woman - this was before she became instantly classy and amazing by playing Nora Charles in The Thin Man. That didn't come until age 29. In the meantime, she played lots of slave girls! Exotic indeed! Bee tee dubs I think my ovaries just gave up. They know I'm never going to be a real woman.

Leslie Caron was hand-picked by Gene Kelly for her first film role, Lise Bouvier in An American in Paris. Nothing fancy, really. Playing Gene Kelly's love interest in a Gershwin-scored, six-Oscar-winning musical epic and knocking out an iconic, genre-defining fifteen-minute ballet dream sequence is okay for some people, but I prefer a less ostentatious lifestyle. I like to roll dough for crap money and sit at my coffee table eating pistachios in my free time.

To continue with Gene Kelly's lucky proteges, Debbie Reynolds was just twenty when she made Singin' in the Rain. If I have to (sarcastically) impress upon you why that is a huge fucking deal, re-evaluate your life now please.

Jeanne Crain, perhaps best known for dancing with my grandfather that one time, got to mack with Dana Andrews in State Fair at twenty years old. I shit you not, when I discovered this one I almost cried. Real. Tears.

It was at about this point in my initial research (DANA ANDREWS) that I fled Hollywood and tried to find less depressing, more realistic examples from... the literary world! Where my ladies of the page at? Literary girls aren't super foxy and kissing your dead soulmates, right?

Right. Turns out that when literary girls turn twenty, they only publish career-making poems that later get carved into mountainsides in their memory. Ever heard of "Renascence"? No? Well, ever heard of EDNA ST. VINCENT MILLAY? She was nineteen when she wrote that shit. You know where you were at nineteen? Still figuring out your alcohol limit. At best.

Other literary girls are less intimidating - Emily Bronte, for example, worked as a teacher at age twenty but suffered a breakdown from stress and returned home to kill time teaching herself German and practicing the piano. That's about right, Emily - strike out on your own only to be crushed by psychological weakness and return, humiliated, to lonely self-improvement in the family home! This is okay. Until you start taking your claustrophobic, miserable life and turning it into shit like Wuthering Heights and making us all look so... unproductive. Couldn't you just journal it out? That's what normal people do. "Dear Diary, today my peers advanced another step beyond me in the journey toward functionality and self-actualization. I am going to take more naps."

Dorothy Parker was orphaned and had to support herself playing piano at a dancing school. That sounds rough. It sounds character-building. It sounds depressing. Man, I sure am better off than she was at my age! Except for that little "dedicating her spare time to perfecting her craft" habit that scored her a job the next year at Vogue... Whatevs.

Zelda Sayre (fun fact: a writer in her own right!) married F. Scott and became Zelda Fitzgerald in her twentieth year. WHO ARE YOU DATING?? To be honest, from then on she wasn't much of a role model, but, for what it's worth, girlfriend made a fortunate alliance. Check it out.

I mean... She had a baby with the man who wrote the short story that inspired the film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button starring Brad Pitt The Great Gatsby.

Lastly, however, I can leave you with a doozy.
Drawn neither from the glittering firmament of Hollywood glamazons or the less-fancy writer ladies brain trust - from a land altogether different - I give you...
A literary heroine.

Elizabeth Bennet.
Elizabeth fucking Bennet was twenty years old.

Forgive me....
I have to go be depressed.