Been watching Cinderella over my kids' shoulders and thinking of classic moments in movies that create that kind of viscous movie memory-feeling which real movie lovers know and love - the kind of feelings you get when you remember certain movie scenes or hear movie music or that feeling you get when you come out of a great, classic movie, feeling like you can fly or at least spend lots of money.
Then I thought, what about the ultimate girls' male character? Of course, it has a lot to do with how nice/chivalric/sexy/courageous the character is, and also a lot to do with the actor's delivery. But I'm talking specifically about those characters who have become embedded in the female psyche as the classic male movie archetype - and this I think, is a result of a successful melding of the characteristics of both the actor and the character he is playing.
What is a classic male movie archetype? I could list a few examples - and I will!
Dark, Broody But Nice
Every girl's favourite I think, however usually suffers from boring delivery and perhaps may even be mistaken for Quiet, Sulky and Dull. A successful DBbutN is dark enough to be mysterious, broody enough to hint at psychosis and only appear nice when it is clear he is doing it for love. DBbutNs ellicit feelings of falling for someone intrinsically good who will end up taking care of his girl, but who's also prepared to stand apart and maybe even be a little dangerous. The staple of Harlequin romances, this guy has been around since long before, and has been every schoolgirl's fantasy for centuries.
Prime Example - Mr Darcy, Pride and Prejudice. There have been many Darcys, least succesful was I think, BBC's version from the 80s. For a long time, Colin Firth's Darcy of the 90s BBC remake, remained champion ever since he emerged dripping with water from the Pemberley estate pond and stunned Lizzie and thousands of unwitting female saturday night TV viewers into hungry submission, purely with his physical presence and a sardonic twist on his lips. Firth enamoured himself of enough of the female population to garner himself the equivalent role in most of the movies he has made since then - including the Pride and Prejudice carbon copy Bridget Jones' Diary. And, with his sense of humour, has proceeded to cause loads of women into falling in love with Colin Firth, not just the Darcy character. The latest Pride and Prejudice with Keira I Know I Have Great Lips Kneightley didn't seem to hold much promise in the Darcy area, but I must say that despite having the physical charisma of a wet fish, the latest Darcy does manage to rise to the occasion in one of literature's most anticipated climactic confrontations - when Darcy and Lizzie have it out and Lizzie finally tells him she thinks he's rather rubbish (all a misunderstanding of course). The latest P&P succeeds in satisfying because the characters say what in the other versions they don't - a departure from the book, but a real hook for modern audiences.
Well-Meaning Dumb Ass Loser
Possibly naive, possibly hot headed - this guy has a weakness of some sort that stands in his own way. So why do girls like him? He needs to be saved. Sometimes he is a total asshole - but only because of some tragedy in the past or because his parents failed him somehow. In the end, this guy comes through after a massive realisation hits him and he changes his way. We girls like to think it's the influence of a female which causes this, but really, it'sup to the character. But I suppose why girls like to think that is because it's a great fantasy - besides, if it weren't for that, most girls would be turned off by how irritating this character can be.
Prime example - Rocky, Happy Madison, Arthur (Dudley Moore), De Niro in Taxi Driver, Johhny English. As you can see, the list is varied. Some losers like Rocky, make you cry for his sake because yes, he is a loser, yes he is dumb, but against the odds he makes it to the top. Others, like Johnny English, you want to whack with a chair.
Floppy-haired Maybe Gay Charmers
Because he's a charmer and because he's gay enough to feel uninhibited around - and then there's the tantalising prospect of conversion which many girls enjoy the thought of. He's like a girlfriend in the shape of a man, with whom you can talk secrets and also flirt with and perhaps use to make another man jealous.
Prime example - Rupert Everett's character in My Best Friend's Wedding and Hugh Grant in almost every movie he has ever made (though in a couple of them the characters he played were definitely gay, whether repressed or flamboyantly so). The secret to Hugh Grant's appeal is that he is very well aware of his own Floppiness and it shows in the way he talks about himself or even in his acting, which is pretty sexy, regardless of his spaniel-eyed looks and funny teeth. Rupert Everett is as manly a gay as you can get, who plays straight characters so well (collective female sigh at the waste), as his predecessor Ian McKellen.
Hunky Nice Guy
Prime Example - Durmot Mulroney in Best Friend's Wedding. Everyone was watching Cameron, Julia and Rupert, sorry to say. Moving on quickly.
Smart Bad Guy
Ooooh, very much like DBbutN, except he's baaad. The main attraction is the possible psychological, mental, emotional problems this guy might have, along with the sharp mind and possible physical disfigurement - and of course, power. There are also some actors who do this very well, combining their dark side, physical attractiveness (or not), (sometimes) humour and great delivery very well.
Prime example - Alan Rickman as the Sheriff in Prince of Thieves and Snipe in the Harry Potty series, but best of all as Gruber in Die Hard, Agent Smith from the Matrix, and other sexier examples which I can't hink of right now...
Muscular Hard-Case with a Heart
A much more exciting version of the Hunky Nice Guy - this one always has a goal, always does whatever it takes to do what needs to be done.
Prime example - Bruce Willis in Die Hard. We were all thinking, wow, what a nice guy and how horrible that this has ahppened to him and his family, whilst admiring his rippling muscles.
My two faves are the dark and broody nice guy and the smart bad guy - both basically two sides of the same coin. There are other male movie archetypes which I haven't thought of, I'm sure, but these are the most fun for me.
Hmmm... time to pasang some DVDs and revisit the totally revisitable!