Helen Mirren-- and "Mrs. Robinson"
The universe and I have an understanding—and that is, it can kick me when I’m down; it can hit me below the belt, yet in between its pummeling it will throw me a moment of beauty as an apology. This has been our deal for years.
It's been very unkind to me lately-- the universe-- and I'm being very kind when I phrase it that way. However, a few weeks ago I’m working part-time in a busy business. A heavy flow of people come and go, a flow of faces I don’t notice, until one day in walks this couple. Around retirement age, I would guess. They’re a well-dressed, dapper looking couple, but what made me notice them is the wife had an uncanny resemblance to one of my favorite actress's—Anne Bancroft. I emphasize, uncanny, and I love Anne Bancroft, love watching her act in anything, and was extremely saddened the day she was no longer with us.
This couple gets whatever services they need, then afterwards the man gets involved in something, and the wife comes to manage the bill. I’m not a chit-chatty person, but I always acknowledge a client with a smile, a hello, did they find their service satisfactory, followed by a thank you and have a nice day. But the longer this woman stood in front of me, the more I found myself unable to stop myself. So, I heard myself asking, “Have you ever been told you look like Anne Bancroft?”
She smiled and said, no. Back in her day she may have heard Elizabeth Taylor on occasion, but that was a very long time ago; she ended with a good natured emphasis.
I liked this stranger. She obviously had a kind and easy manner, so I smiled back and said, “Well, trust me, now you look amazingly similar to Anne Bancroft.”
She then said something which shocked me, she said she was going to have to go home and look up who Anne Bancroft was. I have to remember not everyone is a shameless movie buff, or worshiper of old Hollywood and classic talent, so to give this woman an insight, I tell her Ms. Bancroft is most famous for her role in the movie The Graduate. She gives me an inquisitive look—it obviously isn't registering. I’m thinking to myself if this woman doesn't know The Graduate then I can’t educate her, because apparently she spent her youth reading books instead of wasting time watching movies.
I quickly slipped into my friendly customer service mode, asked her the typical questions about the service she received, and our casual business chat goes on for about a minute or two as our previous conversation goes from my mind, but apparently not from hers.
Meeting a kind stranger in general is a moment of beauty, but when such a moment becomes a memory that's when the universe is living up to its end of the bargain. As I hand her a credit card slip to sign, out of nowhere a beautiful memory is made--- as she takes the pen, she suddenly looks at me with a somewhat impish grin and says...
“…Mrs. Robinson…? …Right...?”
Ah, yes… Mrs. Robinson… A character Anne Bancroft brought to life so flawlessly she will forever linger. Even people like this kind, dapper stranger who can't envision Ms. Bancroft by name, but somewhere in the recesses of her intellectual mind can remember the character of “Mrs. Robinson.” And—by the sheepish expression on this kind stranger's face, remembered her for a somewhat naughty reason.
After all Mrs. Robinson was the notoriously bored, suburban housewife who infamously seduced the college-aged “Benjamin” (a role played to perfection by a young Dustin Hoffman) and in a scene which is ranked among film classics.
Ah, my dear, departed Anne Bancroft— you were indeed a gem on this earth for many reasons. I miss you.
Soon after this wonderful moment with this kind stranger, my employer smacked me with a very unkind, “you’re fired.”
I should have seen it coming—the universe had been way too good to me that week.
Being that I was once again thrown into a volatile job market, I came home and put my self-pity on a page among these Hub Pages. It was an article geared towards middle-aged women and some of the difficulties we face. I doubt if there's any new words of wisdom within the writing, but it made me feel a little better. However, as if in need of an extra creative release I found myself splicing together a video to put within article. The video began developing in my head, a montage of movie and television clips (a head full of wasted time) which shows different stages of life for women—from teenage to elderly. Moments of earnest and humor, and also a reminder of something many people seem to forget, and that is an older woman’s sexuality is still very much alive and appealing-- and in my head the perfect film example of this (thanks to this stranger) was Mrs. Robinson.
I edited it; I published it-- yet instead of forgetting about it and moving on...something about it lingered.
In research for this video, I went to that hunting ground of questionable copyright infringement known as YouTube , and while there I saw a ‘thumbnail’ of what was obviously an older woman and younger man in a love scene, but because of the thumbnail size I couldn't clearly make out the actors, There was something familiar about both of them, however, so out of curiosity I clicked. The young actor (Olivier Martinez) I had seen act before, but the woman I immediately recognized as Helen Mirren (a wonderful British actress). Though I didn't recognize the movie, it obviously was fairly recent and the scene was well-directed and tastefully erotic.
I love a great talent in any genre, and like Anne Bancroft, Helen Mirren is one of those talent's I just love to watch perform.
As a general rule, whenever a script calls for an actress talented enough to pull off a gritty role of say a cold war spy, or a Victorian Queen or even a modern day one—for decades director’s across continents have said, “get me Helen Mirren.”
Because of her talent, I will watch a movie simply because of Helen Mirren—for example, “The Queen”, an Oscar winning performance.
At the same time I will not watch a movie because of Helen Mirren—for example, “The Debt.” I knew her performance would be emotionally hard-hitting, and that particular day I was in the mood for something much lighter in nature. Ironically, I can’t remember what I did buy a ticket to see that day, but I can remember not going to see Helen Mirren—now that’s a hell of an actress.
Outside of her talent, however, the only other things I knew about Ms. Mirren were very minor. I’ve caught glimpses of her walking down the red carpet, and like any casual observer noticed how elegantly she carries herself. I figured it most likely had something to do with her being awarded the British royal title of Dame. Like most American’s I don’t truly know what this title means, but she’s classy enough to pull off all it implies.
When I caught a few minutes of a television interview, and learned this sixty-something year old, classy Dame had a tiny tattoo on her hand-- I paid her my highest compliment---
I thought... “Cool.”
Then—somewhere out of time and space—the universe threw that unassuming little ‘thumbnail’ in front of me on this very bad day.
The scene was from a remake entitled The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone . Whether Helen Mirren was in it or not, or ironically Anne Bancroft as well, I had not gone to see this movie. First of all, I never cared for the original version starring Vivian Leigh, and mainly because the premise of the script is verging on insulting to older women. I am not a soapbox feminist by any stretch. In fact, I am actually quite old-fashioned when it comes to the instinctive duties between the sexes; however I cannot stand when the film industry makes an aging woman out to be pitiful.
The older woman/younger man plot has a very overworked theme, and that is the woman has a handicap whether emotionally or occasionally even physically, and her only possible solace is in the magical arms of an emotionally complicated young lover. An extremely tedious point of view, and a laziness in creative writing, especially in the movie of “Mrs. Stone.” Because it's based off a work by Tennessee William its melancholy is to be expected, yet every despairing characteristic has been placed upon this female role—she’s not just an older woman, she’s an aging actress with a career in need of a comeback, who is now suddenly a widow, and adjusting to life alone, as well as adjusting to living life in a new country, constantly examining herself in the mirror with a pained expression, constantly looking at her aging skin, and the only solace she can find is not only in the arms of a young lover, but in a lover for who she initially pays.
Mrs. Robinson never paid for anything-- not even the hotel room.
This is what is so brilliant about her. There was absolutely nothing pitiful about Mrs. Robinson and the brilliance of Anne Bancroft saw to this. Her character may have been written as the stereotyped pouncing ‘cougar’, a bitter and self-absorbed housewife. Script writers did not give her one likable trait, (except for the sense of humor she shows when its comes to the innocent young Benjamin-- it's subtle-- it's beautiful-- and it's brilliant) but for all else-- not once does Anne Bancroft give the impression she’s going to offer the audience any apologies, and the audience doesn't really want one—her talent not only makes this character a classic but beautifully brilliant.
Then there’s “Mrs. Stone”, a pitiful character I don’t care for, especially as I sat here on that prior bad day with my less than elastic skin, and often look into a mirror with a less than happy expression; especially as I sat here on that bad day, single again being reminded of its lonely nights, and I won't even touch upon a career in need of a comeback. But, after clicking through several well-directed scenes, it was as if the universe smacked me with a "stunat'" slap to the back of the head and said, "Look. You idiot."
It was suddenly revealed to me that for decades Helen Mirren has been silently speaking for middle-aged women across oceans, because not only is she a classy Dame, but at sixty-something years of age she is without a doubt one of the sexiest women on this planet.
And—judging by the bevy of YouTube tributes and clipped love scenes from other various movies, this is only a new revelation to me.
Curiosity started me researching her a bit more. Though the name Helen Mirren may have come to some American’s late in life, she’s been acting in film, television and theatre for over 40 years, and listing her awards would fill up pages.
She has never had any qualms about doing a nude scene or posing nude for a photo—and one of the amazing parts of it all, is that she continues to do so. And, to go even better—photographers and directors still want her to do so.
So much so-- suddenly there she is, "pitiful" Mrs. Stone showing off all her glory.
Not only beautiful but brilliant.
Helen Mirren’s confidence is not only apparent on film, but in everyday life as well. Within recent years a paparazzi photo of her in a bikini began making its rounds as she promoted her new movie and autobiographical book.
During television interviews if this subject was approached, being the polite and proper Dame that she is, she tried to appear to be modest--but underneath it all even Dame Mirren isn’t that good of an actress.
Her intelligence is obvious, again, shows in any interview. Her sense of humor is charming and dry-witted. During one interview in particular she jokingly implied she had to build an extra room for all her awards, and went on to tell how she and her husband recently bought a “mini” castle as a fixer-upper—which they truly did by the way, but there’s no such thing as a mini castle.
When being interviewed by women she is approached with admiration and respect. When being interviewed by men, she is approached with respect as well, at the same time often younger male talk-show host’s flirt with her without thought, or proposition her outright. She tends to handle it with a good-natured laugh, or a naughty retort so quick and confident it throws the host off guard.
It now seems whenever a script calls for a gritty role merging the older woman/younger man scenario, not only are directors across continents still saying, “Get me Helen Mirren,” but masculine and muscular young actors are also asking, “Yes, can we please?"
Ah, Helen Mirren—sixty-something, classy Dame, tiny-tattooed, owns a mini castle—Ms. Mirren. Thank you for being a moment of beauty on a very bad day.
Being that I have admired this woman as an actress for years, it baffles me why I never noticed all the true beauty within her before?
Or at this point in my life, why I suddenly did?
Though the universe hasn't come close to making up for all it has done to me lately, I must admit —at this moment, I will graciously accept its apology.
… Coo, coo, ca-choo… "Mrs. Stone."
© 2012 Gina Baxter