When I wrote my recent essay for this magazine about the death of beauty in cinema, I didn’t mean the literal death of beauties. Lamentably, last week, two famous screen sirens died for real — including the ultimate sex symbol of two decades, Raquel Welch, whom I cited in my piece. The iconic poster from the film that made her a star, One Million Years B.C.(1966) — exhibiting her impressive physical attributes in a skimpy bearskin outfit no prehistoric cavewoman ever wore — adorned every male dorm and frat house well into the Seventies, until one of Farrah Fawcett finally surpassed it. And while nobody from the mid-Sixties to the mid-Seventies came close to Welch’s level of sex symbolism, Stella Stevens, who also died last week, made a formidable challenger.
Even people unfamiliar with Stevens can mentally place her from the mammoth 1972 hit, The Poseidon Adventure, where she spends most of the movie running around the set of a capsized luxury liner dressed only in an oversized man’s shirt. But both Raquel Welch and Stella Stevens had remarkable talent well beyond their amazing looks. Given the chance, each rose to sublime comic heights — Stevens in The Nutty Professor (1963) and The Courtship of Eddie’s Father (1963), Welch in Bedazzled (1967), The Three Musketeers (1973), and a late episode of Seinfeld, “Raquel Welch Is a Menace,” where she eviscerates Kramer when he tries to fire her from a Broadway show.
Uniquely gifted directors such as Stanley Donen (Singing in the Rain, Charade, Bedazzled), Richard Lester (A Hard Day’s Night, Juggernaut, The Three Musketeers), Jerry Lewis (The Nutty Professor), and Sam Peckinpah (Ride the High Country, The Wild Bunch, The Getaway) could see past the two women’s incredible beauty to invoke the skillful actresses within. Not in the easy, lazy, typical Hollywood method of suppressing their pulchritude — see Charlize Theron in Monster, Salma Hayek in Frida, Jessica Biel in Candy — but by attaching it to the material.
For instance, in Donen’s brilliant Bedazzled (1967), written by and starring comedy geniuses Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, Welch personifies the deadly sin, Lust, using her seductive charms to keep Moore’s Faustian loser committed to his soul-selling deal. In Lester’s outstanding The Three Musketeers, she matches Inspector Clouseau’s slapstick havoc. And Stevens steals Sam Peckinpah’s little known yet wonderful 1970 western, The Ballad of Cable Hogue, as the prostitute, Hildy, inspiring one of the truest, most poetic lines in movie history, said by the late, great David Warner: “Funny thing. It doesn’t matter how much or how little you’ve wandered around … how many women you’ve been with. Every once in a while, one of them cuts right through. Right straight into you.”
Unfortunately for Stella Stevens and Raquel Welch, the late Sixties and most of the Seventies de-accentuated carnal beauty of their caliber in favor of asexual feminist representation. By the time the late Seventies disco phenomenon and Eighties cinema resurrected female sensuality, the two actresses had aged out of it. Welch continued to act in pictures, but nowhere near her at previous level.
And today, even young screen hotties can’t find work, because their very beauty works against them. As I describe in my aforementioned article, grotesquery and crudity now take precedence in art, with obesity and fake female masculinization leading the charge. Modern girls aren’t made for either the “male gaze” or traditionalist women, dammit. They’re made to repel femininity and replace sensuality with obscenity. Body parts and functions supersede well-built bodies and pretty faces. In this woke unreality, even the durability of beauties like Margot Robbie and Scarlett Johansson appears tenuous.
Until now, we normal people could simply ignore such woke stupidity by taking refuge in the art of the past. We thought we could enjoy forever the once sacrosanct beauty of Raquel Welch, Stella Stevens, Gina Lollobrigida (who died last month), and all the screen goddesses who came before them. We could watch TCM and see Marilyn Monroe’s skirt get lifted by a street grate in The Seven Year Itch (1955), Rita Hayworth bewitch Glenn Ford with a smoking rendition of Put the Blame on Mame in Gilda (1946), the haunting portrait of Gene Tierney in Laura (1944), or, speaking of canvas, the splendor of Botticelli’s Venus. But we would be foolish.
Because the woke parasites are not content with denying us the artistic beauty of the present and future. Nay, they must deprive us of it in the past as well, and in all art, beginning with the easiest to alter — literature. For evidence, we need look no further than the butchery being perpetrated on the works of master writer Roald Dahl. According to the Daily Mail, the publisher of Dahl’s beloved children’s books is doing worse than editing out “offensive” content — which is abominable enough — but replacing it with politically correct and gender-neutral fare.
Infamous examples abound. The Oompa Loompas in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory will no longer be small men but small people. Augustus Gloop from the same novel will now be enormous rather than “fat,” a word which has been excised from every book. And lovely lines from The Witches like “Even if she is working as a cashier in a supermarket or typing letters for a businessman” have been changed to “Even if she is working as a top scientist or running a business.”
In other words, phraseology that Dahl may have spent immeasurable amounts of time getting just right to his — and millions’ — satisfaction have been mutated by inferiors who could never have created the Oompa Loompas, the Witches, or any other wonderful beings in the first place. By their standard, Captain Ahab will be sailing out to save the white whale rather than hunt Moby Dick. How long before we turn on TCM, Gilda will be fat, ugly, and twerking out “Put the Blame on Men”?