Comfortable and Furious

Dirty Old Men: Part One

I guess I first started noticing moviedom’s fondness for pairing past-their-prime male stars with young totty while watching the amusingly bonkers sci-fi turkey Saturn 3. Here we get Kirk Douglas in his early sixties stuck out in space with newly liberated Charlie’s Angel Farrah Fawcett and a terrible script. Not long afterward I caught the plain daft Twinky, a flatfooted rom-com in which the craggy Charles Bronson is so confused by Susan George’s schoolgirl gyrations that he doesn’t kill anyone.

Anyhow, as you may have noticed these days, there’s a fair bit of hand wringing about depicting such May to December romances. Creepy is the word often bandied around with the subtext that it’s yet more evidence of the way men exploit the ladies. Such tedious finger-waggers will gleefully condemn a classic like Woody Allen’s Manhattan or a piece of dull fluff like 1999’s Entrapment with its 39-year age gap between Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta Jones. They’ll even poo-poo something as innocuous as the platonic connection in Lost in Translation.

Bullshit, I say, especially as there are plenty of older woman-younger man movies like the huge seventies hit Summer of ’42, in which a war widow in her late twenties has sex with a fifteen-year-old boy. Then there’s the lamentable comedy-drama Class where the frizzy-haired cougar Jacqueline Bisset seduces a prep school student in a glass elevator. And what about that old lady getting her wrinkled jollies in Harold and Maude? Pics like these never suffer the same accusations of grooming and creepiness.

In real life, of course, there are countless examples of young women hanging off the arms of older men (and vice versa). Just look at the film stars themselves. Al Pacino’s girlfriend (and mother of his child) is over half a century younger, De Niro’s girlfriend (and mother of his child) is thirty-five years younger, Dennis Quaid’s wife thirty-nine years, and Nicolas Cage’s missus more than three decades. Zeta-Jones is a quarter of a century younger than Michael Douglas. Harrison Ford, however, is obviously more concerned about decorum in that his spouse is only a little over twenty years younger. As for the ladies, both Cher and Madonna are well-known for their preference for younger men.

God, I’d love to see some of these righteous newspaper columnists, bloggers and social media nitwits go up to De Niro et al and call them creepy. Why don’t they grasp it’s none of their fucking business? That their disapproval, like so much online commentary, is rooted in envy and a desire to bully? All the aforementioned relationships are simply a case of consenting adults. Or are these worry-warts saying women in their late teens, twenties and thirties can’t be trusted to make their own decisions?

Frankly, I don’t have the slightest problem with any of the above hook-ups, although I’ll admit I had my doubts when that whacked-out ex-stripper Anna Nicole Smith got spliced with an 89-year-old Texan billionaire back in the mid-nineties. Maybe that wasn’t a case of love is love.

Ah, the old love is love. Have you noticed how this adage is routinely applied to gay relationships? Such a saying implies love is just as real and vital no matter what person you set your heart on. Yet when it comes to an older man and younger woman such love apparently becomes sinister.

Anyhow, my point is this: Why is there this growing disapproval of older man-younger woman stuff in the movies when it clearly has a basis in reality? Art reflects life and all that so why do some naysayers get irritated by an old dude hitting sexy home runs instead of fading into beer-bellied, crotchety irrelevance?

Well, I think it’s got something to do with a growing anti-men agenda, a development in which phrases like ‘toxic masculinity’, ‘predator’ and ‘male gaze’ are becoming increasingly prevalent. Christ, sometimes it feels like it’s open season on men. Stoked by resentful females and occasionally lubricated by traitorous, already cowed males, I’m increasingly picking up on the notion that apologetic men should throw away their balls and embrace the lamest, most vanilla existence possible.

In other words, all this misandry (as championed by a ghastly, hand wringing lefty rag like The Guardian) is an attempt at control.

Other objectors cling to the belief that as salaries equalize there will soon be much less opportunity for liver-spotted hands to grope tender female flesh both in real life and the movies. This strikes me as fanciful. Surely there will always be a certain percentage of women not only attracted to older men but happy to hook up with a sugar daddy? Then again, maybe I’m being unfair to the gentler sex. Maybe all young women these days are bursting with integrity.

Whatever the case, there sure have been a lot of movies made about age gaps. I gotta say, though, most of the ones I recently sat through (that constitute the more extreme examples) aren’t much cop. They tend to be low-key stories that focus on a vivacious teenage girl flinging herself at (and rejuvenating) a cynical, jaded man. Slight is the word. Goosestepping Nazis and exploding volcanoes are at a premium. Indeed, some of these films are so execrable that they can kill off a star’s career, such as the 1969 Norman Wisdom comedy What’s Good for the Goose. Then there’s the plotless Age of Consent in which a nude, snorkeling Helen Mirren in her first starring role couldn’t prevent me from taking three sittings to get through it.

On the flip side, I’ve long enjoyed goodies like the revered Atlantic City and the double schoolgirl-fucking British romp Rita, Sue and Bob, Too. And yes, such flicks do kindle hopes in my good self of indulging in some naughty Charlie Chaplin-style hijinks as the damp grave approaches. Mind you, even if a nymph somehow wandered into my decrepit orbit, the seven movies below suggest I’d still be unlikely to get anywhere. Not only do these mature studs tend to have bags of money, but they’ve all managed to keep their hair.







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