Friday, January 2, 2009

Why I love Colin Wilcox

Watched a bit of the Twilight Zone marathon yesterday on the SciFi network, waiting for my favorite "Number 12 looks just like you"--which never gets shown, or at least, I invariably miss it every time. (On YouTube, I discover a band has named itself that, which is pretty neat!)

Ironically, me and Mr Daisy were also watching DVDs of MAD MEN, also set in the early 60s, which mentioned the beautiful model of the era, Suzy Parker, who plays Number 12. (The original story was by Charles Beaumont, titled "The Beautiful People"--also a song title by Marilyn Manson--and I've always wondered if he read the story.)

The story is about an "unattractive" girl in the year 2000 (!) who refuses to have "the operation"--which will make her look like everyone else. Doesn't she want to look like everyone else? What the hell is wrong with her?

She gets a choice of Number 12 or Number 8, the popular models of the day, and why doesn't she want to be one of them? Look how pretty they are. But Marilyn (interesting first name, considering the time-period) isn't having it. "Being like everybody is the same as being nobody!" she protests. They send her to shrinks and hospitals, since she is obviously insane.

I won't tell you the ending, but this being the Twilight Zone, I'll bet you know it already. The final wind-up by the chain-smoking (even on TV, good God) Rod Serling:

Portrait of a young lady in love--with herself. Improbable? Perhaps. But in an age of plastic surgery, body building and an infinity of cosmetics, let us hesitate to say impossible. These and other strange blessings may be waiting in the future--which after all, is the Twilight Zone.
Oh, holy shit! The future is here! How did that happen? (As Michael Stipe once warbled, the insurgency began and you missed it.)

The completely amazing Colin Wilcox, who plays Marilyn, is just great. Which leads me to her most fabulous role of all time, and what we can learn from it.


At about 10-12 seconds into this very short clip, check out the expression on Colin Wilcox's face, as she embodies Mayella Ewell. Really something else--giving me infinite respect for what actors do. One expression, just one, and she seals it.

When I first saw it, it made my blood run cold, even as a child. I didn't know what I was seeing. But the scene has held me riveted from the first time I saw it, until now, watching it again and again. I realize, it has a message for women, for feminists... and it is possibly the greatest white-trash moment ever delivered on screen. (Wilcox, not surprisingly, was originally from North Carolina.)

Until this moment in To Kill A Mockingbird, the audience has felt pity for possible rape/violence-victim Mayella, daughter of an abusive alcoholic. We know what's going on. But then, Harper Lee surprises us... this won't be a story where the wrong-doer is apprehended in the courtroom, ala Erle Stanley Gardner. Mayella suddenly squints, fully of steely resolve. She is white, goddammit, and that is what she is really saying: Are you going to be white, and stand with me as white, or aren't you? Suddenly, we are frightened of Mayella: "Your ma'am-in, and your Miss Mayellas don't come to nothin, Mr Finch!" She has decided to exercise the only power she has, and that is the power of a young white woman, trash or not. She can say that this black man raped her, and what are you MEN going to do about it?

When people are powerless, this is what happens. They learn to seize what they have, and use it as a bludgeon, as it has been used against them. Remember, this is a rape trial... Mayella knows what power is.

The whole clip is only 46 seconds, but check out that squint, when Mayella makes the decision. And remember, it comes down to that: the moment cannot be undone.


Unfortunately the embedding for this clip is gone, like, as of last night. Yeesh! But you can watch it on YouTube, linked here.

And, sorry about that. As I wrote HERE, this aggravates the hell out of me and I wish I knew why it happens. The embedding for other clips from the movie, is still intact. ((((sigh)))


ArrogantWorm said...

There's an episode, I think it's from the twilight zone, pretty sure, hopefully you'll recognize the description. I wanted to find a pic and enlarge it to hang on m'wall. I remember really liking the episode, it also involved plastic surgery, but the doctors, nurses et cetera were convinced this woman was ugly and wanted to fix her. Since it's twilight zone-ish, you just know it's actually the 'other way 'round', when we got a glimpse of the doctor/nurse, their faces were heavily ridged and their noses were ...flat? if I'm not mistaken. What I remember best were the ridges. It might've been the Outer Limits, actually. But you wouldn't happen to know the title, would you? ~ Is Hopeful ~

ArrogantWorm said...

Ooooh, and music - 'In the Year 2525' the song fits dystopian futures rather well.

Daisy said...

Yeah, I do. Total geekery!

"The Eye of the Beholder"

It's somewhat confusing because it also aired with another title, "The Private World of Darkness."

The voice was Maxine Stuart's, but the woman herself was played by beautiful Donna Douglas, who was also Elly May Clampett on THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES.

There was a rather tepid, unsuccessful remake on Rod's 70s show NIGHT GALLERY...Rod wrote the episode himself.

Gonna write about NIGHT GALLERY one of these days, which could really suck (and often did), but every now and then, could rob you of a week of sleep at a time.

ArrogantWorm said...

AHA! The Clampetts, thought she looked familiar. Thanks ^.^ Been looking for that for ages, I'd search, give up for a while, remember, search, give up for a while.. awesome episode, though, always loved the Twilight Zone. The song by the same name is decent, too.

BigFred said...

Daisy I only got to watch part of the episode. I'm so disappointed. I just happened to stumble in midway, I really wanted to see the rest of the Twilight zone episode. All the while watching it I remember thinking "someone should post something about this." I'm glad you did!

anodyne Brownie said...

it was screened here in Australia on late-night free-to-air only last week and I watched it.
The screenplay was written by Horton Foote who also wrote one of my favourite films 'Tender Mercies'

which also had Robert Duvall in it. His Boo radley in TKAM is as rivetting as Ms Wilcox's performance.

and we know why Scout Willis is named that.

belledame222 said...

Yeah. the one AW is thinking of is the one I first thought of when I was reading this. Don't think I ever saw this one, though--too bad. I did catch part of the marathon while flying back home (the Twilight Zone always seems to be on when I'm flying cross country for some reason). "It's a GOOD Life" was the last full one I saw. Awesome. Evil children: you can't go wrong, well, barely. That was a good story, anyway, the Jerome Bixby's it's based on.

"I wish him into the CORNFIELD!!"

Great metaphor for, well, a bunch of shit, really.

Also a couple of talking doll/dummy ones. Why are talking dolls always so creepy? The ventriloquist one, and then the proto-Chucky,

"My name is Talking Tina, and you'd better be nice to me."

...right after she sends the brutish stepfather tripping to his death...

JoJo said...

OK, "Mockingbird" is a topic I can expound upon for hours and hours, being my fave movie AND book. I can do the dialog. Colin Wilcox was brilliant as Mayella. I have the "delux" DVD set w/ a documentary about the movie. An adult Colin explained that she didn't wash her hair for days during that shoot so that it would be greasy.

I love the part where she's blinking the hair in her eyes and goes, "I don't recall if he hit me. I mean, YES YES HE HIT ME HE HIT ME." Her father was just as repugnant. That movie was perfectly cast.

JoJo said...

PS She was great in "The Baby Maker" too, one of Barbara Hershey's first roles too!

bluelyon said...

I was an avid Twilight Zoner as a kid. I especially identified The Bewitchin' Pool. I spend a lot of time in pools growing up, and the idea that I could slip into a magic land through the drain at the bottom of the pool captured my imagination.

Love, love, love "To Kill A Mockingbird" (book and movie)

bluelyon said...

oops..should read "identified WITH"

Ruby NYC said...

It's Eye of the Beholder, and it scared the hell out of me when I first saw it as a child.