Monday, November 15, 2010

Ursula Andress: What beauty was always supposed to remind us of

London. March 17, 1966

INTERIOR - NIGHT: London. March 17, 1966. The Royal Film Performance of ‘Born Free’. On stage left (in profile) you have Deborah Kerr who, at 45, seems an atavistic Lady Bracknell, a chronological confusion, perhaps a bouffanted levee, holding back Time - at least for a blessed moment - from the startling beauty of Julie Christie, Ursula Andress and Catherine Deneuve, Sirens of the 60s.
Motion is important

Deneuve’s sexuality is empowered by a wistful frailty that demands isolation, to be regarded, not explored.

Christie is engaged but follows a silent muse. There’s heat but it’s random. Restless rather than bored.

So is color
Andress has the impenetrable mask. With her high forehead, deep-set eyes and strong jaw, it is a face culled from a sculptor’s hand, a late night Pygmalion, louche and love sick.

The Face - Full Bore
From her Venus-on-the-half-shell surf-side debut in Dr. No (1962), Andress entered the sixties without a resume. Few (aside from long gone Jimmy Dean) in North America knew her name. And suddenly there was this face, far removed from the rounded softness of Marilyn Monroe, who would die the same year, too famous to ever be hip, too submissive to ever be cool. And it took cool to swing in the sixties, baby.

Poor Pygmalion
Look at What’s New Pussycat (’65) or Casino Royale (’67). Acting not required. Just attitude. And Andress had the requisite attitude. Always game, never serious. A kind of Vegas-style swinger but with a bracing, Teutonic warp. No hippy dippy chick here. No Shirley-Maclaine Rat-packer. If she needed men, it was to turn off the light.

We can well imagine lyricist Hal David in a darkened film theatre watching an early cut of Casino Royale. And then he sees the Face. And then he writes 'The Look of Love'.
Drifting with moon children through paisley parties

Throughout the 60s Andress was always present but never there, drifting with the moon children through paisley parties somewhere between Woodstock and Monte Carlo — so...

...The Face, a kind of totemic, ageless apparition of what Beauty was always supposed to remind us of.