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From Vertigo to Austin Powers, Scenes We Love

By Manohla Dargis
The Nation, April 3, 2020

It’s a familiar parlor game to ask one another to name our favorite movies. For those who take movies seriously, the answer can mean anything from deepened friendships to feelings of betrayal. Yet specific scenes often mean even more personal truths than entire films, which, with their narrative plenty, can easily obscure an embarrassment of personal fetishes, obsessions and fears. Knowing this, and for reasons that are perhaps more voyeuristic than intellectual or political, we asked a handful of women to describe a scene in a movie that they felt provided the best insight into the relationship between the sexes. As expected, the answers were far-ranging. They were also, by turns, funny, caustic, cynical and generous. It would be presumptuous to think that these scenes reveal everything about these women, save that each looks at movies with their eyes wide open, and quite a few of them had sex on the brain.

LIZ PHAIR, musician.
One of the truest relationships is between Margo Channing and her boyfriend in All About Eve. They are totally in love but you don’t necessarily know that in the beginning. You’re not given assurances, until that moment that I love–being a kind of fiery woman in a relationship myself–when he’s got Margo on the bed after she’s come into the audition. Eve has performed brilliantly and your heart is sinking and Margo is pretending like she doesn’t know and is smoking her cigarettes and he grabs her and throws her on the bed and he’s shaking her and saying, “I love you! Don’t you get it? I’m in love with you.” He’s telling her, to her face, who she is. It doesn’t matter how heinously she behaves, he is in love with her. Her. It can’t be Eve, it can’t be the next person just like Margo or better or younger, it’s her. So often there’s a sort of mathematical way that Hollywood does things. You can always tell who’s going to get together and who’s not. This is a movie about a woman who is behaving monstrously and a man who is being an ignoramus, but they love each other and nothing in the plot can damage that. You don’t have to be a good girl to be loved, you don’t have to behave the way Hollywood formulas want you to behave. I find that inspiring.

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