Screening Room



Part of the magic of Hollywood movies is that the larger-than-life heroes and heroines up there on the screen don't age and wither and deteriorate like the rest of us do. In fact, it may be that one of the reasons we go to the movies, at least in youth-obsessed America, is to bathe in a cinematic fountain of perpetual youth. If they're not getting older and flabbier, maybe we won't either.

The bargain we seem to strike with the movies is that if they keep our screen gods and goddesses free of age and blemish, we'll continue to adore them and shell out money to go see them. As the movie audience grows younger each year, the last thing they want to see is a bunch of old farts with bald heads and beer bellies up there huffing and puffing around on the screen. So it seems only logical—indeed, financially imperative—that the people who impersonate these heroes for us shouldn't age and bloat and wrinkle. By and large, the last thing we want is for our aging movie heroes to act their age.

One of the wonders of modern entertainment is that we always have our store of old movie memories to fall back on. So when Sean Connery moves into his fifth decade of stardom, seducing all the women, killing all the men, and blowing up all the buildings without wrinkling his tuxedo, we're happy and find our own feeble powers correspondingly enhanced. When we see Gene Kelly dancing with his grin undissolved by the rain, some part of us—however decrepit we may…

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