Friday, November 27, 2009
Barbara Hershey: two movies
This weekend I saw two movies by underrated actress Barbara Hershey. First I saw her notorious 1981 horror movie "The Entity", a truly mediocre movie "based on a true story" about a woman who is regularlt attacked and raped by a poltergeist. It was widely attacked by feminists and ignored by the public. And one can see why. The movie is boring, repetitive and half an hour too long. Still, one can see for it Hershey's amazing performance. Her acting keeps this movie from becoming truly risible. If one wants to see a fine example of an actor saving a movie, look no further than this movie.
Much more interesting is "Boxcar Bertha", an early Martin Scorcese movie made for the Roger Corman B movie factory. It has the usual Corman touches: violence, nudity. But Scorcese turns it into a Depression era, thoughful movie about capitalism, poverty, racism and class warfare. There are truly beautiful moments here. But again, Barbara Hershey delivers a truly special performance. She is unafraid of nudity (in fact at the time she alleged that her sex scenes in the movie were real) and has an intensity that one doesn't see these days.
Sadly, Hershey never really became a star. She did have her moment in the sun in Woody Allen's "Hannah and her Sisters". But she has sort of vanished since them. A real shame. Maybe someone like Quentin Tarantino will create a movie in which she can show again what a great actress she is.