Well, what do you know? Grey is gorgeous, and great for box-office returns. Well, that’s the way things look to me, and judging from some publications, not to mention the Olivier Awards last night, the over-fifties have won top places for superb performances in an increasing number of films that do not require bulging boobs, the frenzied frolicking of lusting flesh, nor all-devouring kisses that are routine in most of today’s films, but must be pure hell if you’re partnered with someone who has BO or suffers from halitosis!
It’s become traditional to see the stars at such events as the Olivier Awards. Indeed, three such are Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, and Helen Mirren who are regularly awarded their well-deserved trophies, then deliver dignified speeches, minus the weeping and simpering of the less experienced, before returning to their seats amid thunderous applause from fellow thespians, each of whom must be conscious of the changing attitudes towards ageism. Now thankfully moving far away from the days when most women actors would have been considered over-the-hill at forty and useful perhaps for the odd cameo role on stage or screen. Although older men fared better and could still pick up supporting roles requiring grey-haired maturity where the odd wrinkle didn’t matter too much, star parts were few and far between.
Walter Matthau and Jack Lemon with brilliant fellow stars like Sophia Loren, gave us laughs a plenty in Grumpy Old Men. I never tire of watching such films. Indeed, my grandson, in his mid-twenties often asks to watch such golden oldies as Dad’s Army and Last of the Summer Wine whenever he comes to stay for a couple of nights. Among the most recent DVDs I acquired was The Exotic Marigold Hotel, and I’m looking forward to Quartet, when I get the DVD. I won’t miss Vicious tonight with Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi. I’m sure there are others who think, as I do when watching these brilliant people acting roles they make so realistic, it’s like being allowed to watch through a magic mirror, enchanting people behaving outrageously while doing what they want, even if it’s unconventional, and loving every moment.
I hope more such productions will be undertaken in the future so we can treasure and archive the unique talents of these brilliant people for years to come. So many who are handsome or beautiful become obsessed with preserving their good looks in aspic through the surgeon’s knife, or botox; afraid to believe the years really do sit more kindly upon the shoulders of those who allow the odd laughter line, as well as those of life’s experiences, to trace their ways across faces topped by silvering hair, rather than that subjected to the harsh psychedelic contents of a bottle.
That said, I’m all in favour of living out my last act as disgracefully as time will allow. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not about to plunge into bed with anything more exciting than my hot water bottle or electric blanket, but I’m not going to listen to all that straight-laced-thou-shalt-not brigade. I enjoy my wine and my cognac too much. Cigarettes were consigned to the past many years ago, before they were ever more than a social accessory to give me something to do with my hands. Marriage and motherhood took care of that more than fifty years ago. No, I can say what I mean, and mean what I say, without fear or favour; enjoy my own company as well as that of family and friends, although, like everyone else, the numbers are dwindling, but there’s a great life to be lived in spite of the wrinkles.