Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Most Unflattering Makeup Job?
North By Northwest is on now (I wonder if the upcoming Blu-Ray release will finally correct the mis-framing that cuts off the full name on the secret spy agency's plaque? It's been cut off in every version of the film I've seen). It reminds me that one of the Pauline Kael observations I really agreed with was her denunciation of Eva Marie Saint's makeup in this film. Kael wrote that "a perverse make-up artist has turned her into an albino African mask."
When I saw the movie for the first time, it was the second thing I'd ever seen Saint in, the first being Exodus, and I thought she didn't look as good as she had in Exodus. Then I saw her in On the Waterfront and other movies where she wasn't too ostentatiously made up, and she looked great. But in North By Northwest her face looks lumpy and artificial. There's no such thing as a truly "natural" look in movies -- everybody's changed by the camera, even if they don't wear any makeup at all -- but sometimes a person looks better when the makeup and hair people are trying to make him or her look natural, and that's definitely the case here. The more they try to make her look like a beautiful blonde, the less she looks like one, even though she actually is a beautiful blonde.
This is probably due to a combination of a) Hitchcock's desire to make her look like the generic Hitchcock Blonde and b) An unfamiliar makeup department -- this was Hitchcock's only movie at MGM, and while he took most of his Paramount crew along with him, he used MGM's hair and makeup crew.
This is always the case that comes to mind when I try to think of the most unintentionally unflattering makeup job in movies. What are some other movies where someone is intended to look good, but is given makeup that makes him or her look less good than usual?