Ever notice how some actresses remind you of others, in earlier generations? Sometimes I would even, in a confused, fugue state, mistake one for the other. That’s the case with Charlotte Rampling, Lauren Bacall, Rachel Ward, Jacqueline Bisset, Jaclyn Smith. All of them are beautiful, lean and ultra-sexy women. Out of context, one tall, lean and sexy brunette flashing on the screen can take the place of another. That’s when you have to take another, really good look and see what all these beautiful women have in common. I call it the Sisterhood of the Sexy-Lanky Stare.
Lauren Bacall is the original Sexy-Lanky Starer. At nineteen, she stared opposite the already legendary Humphrey Bogart, her future husband, in Hemingway’s TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT and stared him down right along with millions of adoring fans. The secret to the stare was keeping her chin slightly down and looking straight on in a fiery, intense glare that melted anything in it’s path. The truth is, the cat-like lanky Lauren was so intimidated in her first movie role that she kept her chin down to stop from shaking! Thus the sexy-lanky stare was born.
Jacqueline Bisset is one of the most gorgeous woman ever to grace the screen, no doubt. She perfected her sexy-lanky stare in BULLITT opposite the almost equally photogenic Steve McQueen. Jacqueline was young and unabashedly sexual in her girlfriend role and even hotter than the Mustang McQueen drove all over the streets of San Francisco. The wonderful thing about Jackie was that she was as sexy smiling as she was leering at you, which gave her a quality of accessibility that Lauren didn’t possess. When Lauren smiled on screen, it was often prelude to a scathing, snarling rebuke. Jacqueline was more 70’s soft-focus, oh-my-god is this beautiful woman about to take her clothes off in front of me sexy, with a smile that said it’s okay, no one is home but the two of us.
Charlotte Rampling is what I consider the full-incarnation of the Sexy-Lanky-Stare and the most highly-evolved we have ever seen. She had the Lauren Bacall stare down, only more so. She had the Bacall and Bisset Lanky, long and lean sexy body down, too. Only Charlotte didn’t have a problem with taking it all off and often. In her heyday, Charlotte was the epitome of a femme fatale who may or may not practice a catch and release philosophy. God knows, however, if she got you in her tractor-beam sight-lines – you were in for whatever ride she decided to take you on. Charlotte was fierce-sexy. She had the lips, the eyes, the straight hips and the length of bone that screamed high-class lady you don’t stand a chance with, unless she wants you to. That’s why I vote Charlotte as the penultimate Sexy Lanky Starer. And she looks as absolutely fantastic today as she did back in the 70’s and early 80’s. More please, Charlotte.
And not to be missed are Rachel Ward and Jaclyn Smith. Both Brunettes are absolutely gorgeous in their own right. Each had the stare, the lankiness and the sex-appeal to hold their own with their sisters. They lacked, however, the story material to make these goddess elements combine and sustain on the screen for very long. See, a Sexy-Lanky-Stare needs a really good story and everything it comes with to make it immortal. Everything from the lighting, to the costumes (or, lack thereof) to the cinematography must be top-notch to capture and immortalize these screen goddesses and project them at full power. That’s why Lauren, Jacqueline and Charlotte will always be the Holy Trinity of the Sexy Lanky Stare Sisterhood. Oh, and an honorary member of the sisterhood is Vicki McCarty-Iovine, better known as Playboy Playmate for September, 1979. Vicki had the whole Sexy Lanky Stare thing going on and more, or should I say less – for a very impressionable adolescent boy to fall in love with. Unfortunately, her only film role was a minor one opposite Willem Defoe in Streets of Fire. That movie’s siren was another brunette was the unforgettable Diane Lane – which I will save for a whole other blog, my friends.