The holy trinity of Hollywood’s finest leading ladies—Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor and Julie Andrews—are certainly a force to be reckoned with. Each acts as the as the epitome of charm and grace and remains an example for future generations of women.
Well, I guess that holds true if you’ve actually seen their films.
I have always done my best to avoid clichés. I therefore repeatedly reject the favorite films of my female friends (yet, I’ve unfortunately been required to watch The Notebook on countless occasions; it’s torture). So as an act of mild rebellion, in the past years my collection of Sylvester Stallone films has grown while my repertoire of classics has lagged. And as much as I try to deny it, there are films I am embarrassed to admit I have yet to see, films featuring those classic leading ladies of Hollywood.
Little Women (1949): Elizabeth Taylor is arguably the greatest actress of all time. It is thus my duty as a film-lover to revere her work. I have seen the renowned box office hits, Cleopatra and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, however, Little Women is still on my list. I mean, the title Little Women says it all. I can predict a rollercoaster of emotions—cycles of laughter and tears—before watching even one scene of the film. And having read the book, I’m simply not sure if I can manage it once more. Why put myself through such emotional pain for a second time? For the sake of the beloved Elizabeth Taylor, of course. It is a classic book and a classic film, with a classic leading lady. Emotional or not, I am embarrassed to say I have yet to witness the adolescent Elizabeth Taylor assuming the role of Amy March of Little Women (my great grandmother is likely turning over in her grave as I write).
My Fair Lady: Young women quote Audrey Hepburn like bad televangelists quote Scripture, often wrong but never void of passion. Just because you quote Jesus doesn’t automatically mean you’re going to heaven, similarly, just because you quote Audrey Hepburn doesn’t automatically mean you have class. Some of these young women even go so far as to post pictures of Ms. Hepburn on their walls. And these posters are always the same—Audrey is in a sleek black dress with a sly smile peering through billowing smoke from a cigarette as long as her torso. So as a response to the Audrey ardor sweeping my generation, I made the unfortunate choice to boycott her films. And as a result of my cynicism, I realize I’ve regrettably missed out on a classic: My Fair Lady. As the winner of eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor (Rex Harrison), and Best Director, a screening of My Fair Lady is well overdue.
Mary Poppins: Denied the lead role of the film, My Fair Lady, Julie Andrews walked away with the best actress award for Mary Poppins instead, while Audrey Hepburn, her My Fair Lady replacement, wasn’t even nominated. And with a supporting role played by Dick Van Dyke there is certainly no denying that Mary Poppins is pure magic. I know the music and I know the plot, however, I have regrettably yet to see the film. Unfortunately, as a child (when most young girls have their first Mary Poppins experience) I got wrapped up in the fad of playing outdoors. Thankfully, I have corrected my wayward ways and now spend more time in the great indoors catching up on the lost cinema of my childhood. Next on my list is certainly Mary Poppins.
Not having seen each of these films is rather shameful, and I’m now presented with the daunting task of combing through the classics. But you know what they say about those daunting tasks -- "Just a spoon full of sugar makes the medicine go down ..."