Looking for ladies of film
November 10, 2010 5:38 PM   Subscribe

Looking for movies or television shows that depict very gracious, well-mannered, and feminine women...

Looking for movies or television shows that depict a certain kind of woman:

- Very feminine, gracious, well-mannered, classy, well-bred, cultured
- A lady, but not a goody-two shoes or overly stuffy
- Perhaps a Southern belle, "iron fist in a velvet glove"
- Can be any age, but preferably 20s - 40s

Like Grace Kelly perhaps. Audrey Hepburn seems a bit too frivolous; Katherine Hepburn a bit too masculine. Marilyn Monroe too breathless and girlish.

Plot, genre, size of role and other details are unimportant. I'd prefer movies produced after 1980, but old movies (e.g., Grace Kelly) that fit the bill are fine too.

Not looking for:
- Parodies
- Conniving, nasty women
- Women who look like ladies but are secretly evil
- Women who are whiny, incapable, "depend on the kindness of strangers"
- Rough-edged, tough women
- Unintelligent women
- Materialistic, bubble-headed, silly women
- Tempestuous (Scarlett O'Hara) or self-sacrificing (Melanie) women

Thank you!
posted by 3491again to Media & Arts (46 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
The series, Designing Women comes to mind - Dixie Carter's character particularly.
posted by cecic at 5:41 PM on November 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


This describes Inara in the Firefly series and the movie Serenity.
posted by amethysts at 5:44 PM on November 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


They're not southern belles but all women of substance:

Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca
Katherine Hepburn in African Queen
Lauren Bacall in The Big Sleep
posted by bonobothegreat at 5:44 PM on November 10, 2010


i guess it's a question of definitions, but veronica in dangerous beauty is an incredible lady, i think.
posted by nadawi at 5:45 PM on November 10, 2010


Steel Magnolias
posted by amyms at 6:02 PM on November 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


Gena Rowlands' character in Something to Talk About.
posted by amyms at 6:04 PM on November 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Let me add to this, movies that depict society women without making fun of them.
posted by 3491again at 6:22 PM on November 10, 2010


CJ Cregg from the West Wing.
posted by kjs4 at 6:26 PM on November 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


The character of Marmee in any version of Little Women was a lovely, classy woman, though not Southern. There was a remake in '94 with Susan Sarandon playing the role if you'r looking for newer films.
posted by platinum at 6:35 PM on November 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


Many of Alfred Hitchcock's films include a woman with these attributes.

Priscilla Lane as Patricia Martin in Saboteur
Doris Day as Josephine Conway McKenna in The Man Who Knew Too Much
Grace Kelly as Frances Stevens in To Catch a Thief
Grace Kelly as Lisa Carol Fremont in Rear Window
Grace Kelly as Margot Mary Wendice in Dial M for Murder
Jane Wyman as Eve Gill in Stage Fright
Joan Fontaine as Lina in Suspicion
posted by euphorb at 6:38 PM on November 10, 2010


Speaking of Hitchock, the first 2 examples that came to mind were:

Ingrid Bergman in Notorious

Tallulah Bankhead in LifeBoat
posted by jbenben at 6:43 PM on November 10, 2010


The new UK TV show "Downton Abbey" is all about the aristocratic women: a mother, three daughters and a grandmother, all of whom match some or all of your criteria.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 6:43 PM on November 10, 2010


Tilda Swinton in I am Love (Io sono l'amore)
posted by PercussivePaul at 6:52 PM on November 10, 2010


This is what you're looking for: Mrs. Bridge.

Joanne Woodward played her in "Mr & Mrs Bridge," but I don't think you can comprehend her without reading the book. (Hope that's not a showstopper, but the emotional nuances in a book can't be captured on film.)

The character may seem at first to be overly stuffy, or a goodie-two-shoes. But she's as real as it gets in literature. Mrs. Bridge, published c1960, and Mr. Bridge, 10 yrs later. And the film is still pretty good.

BTW, she was the wife of a lawyer. Not old money by any means, but he was a top lawyer, so they moved in the higher circles of Kansas City.

Author: Evan Connell
posted by LonnieK at 6:56 PM on November 10, 2010


Has Miss Manners done any television?
posted by tangram1 at 7:07 PM on November 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


You know, Julianna Margulies in The Good Wife (current excellent TV program) fits this description, in an up to date way.
posted by bearwife at 7:12 PM on November 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Anne Shirley in the movie Anne of Avonlea fits your description (the Anne in Anne of Green Gables is too tempestuous and not mature enough).
posted by yawper at 7:28 PM on November 10, 2010


Meryl Streep as Julia Child in Julie and Julia.
posted by TrarNoir at 7:40 PM on November 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


Mrs. Coach!!! Tami Taylor in Friday Night Lights. Played by Connie Britton in both the movie and the TV show... but watch the TV show.
posted by acidic at 8:04 PM on November 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


These may or may not fit all your criteria:

Emma Thompson in Sense and Sensibility

Reese Witherspoon in Walk the Line

Frances McDormand in Fargo
posted by triggerfinger at 8:09 PM on November 10, 2010


You are describing the classical Hollywood womena's melodrama heroine.

Lana Turner in Imitation of Life
Jane Wyman in All That Heaven Allows and Magnificent Obsession
Deborah Kerr in An Affair to Remember

if they're too self-sacrificing (I don't think so), there are also

Katherine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story
Gene Tierney in The Ghost and Mrs. Muir

And of course, for a study in this kind of woman and her foils, try Norma Shearer in The Women.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 8:32 PM on November 10, 2010


Frances McDormand in Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day - she's kind of the Jeeves to Amy Adams' Wooster.
posted by oh yeah! at 8:44 PM on November 10, 2010


Miss Ellie on Dallas.
posted by GaelFC at 9:07 PM on November 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I haven't seen it, but I instantly thought of Julianne Moore in Far from Heaven.
posted by libraryhead at 9:44 PM on November 10, 2010


Shirley MacLaine in Terms of Endearment. There's a scene in a hospital (you'll know it when you see it) where you realize that she's an iron fist in an iron fist.

She reprised the character in The Evening Star, but I thought that movie was pretty pallid.
posted by Addlepated at 9:48 PM on November 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


The important thing to remember is that 'lady' and 'American' just don't go together. You can be one or the other - never both. The two greatest ladies of Hollywood were British: Deborah Kerr and Greer Garson.

Lana Turner was a slapper, onscreen and off.
posted by Very Nice Person at 10:15 PM on November 10, 2010


Betty Draper in the TV show Mad Men.
posted by scose at 12:15 AM on November 11, 2010


Not sure you've watched enough Mad Men, Betty is deeply damaged and not very nice at all.
posted by Ness at 12:55 AM on November 11, 2010 [5 favorites]


Somewhat out of left field perhaps, but how about Disney princesses? I think e.g. Snow White or Belle could fit the bill. Oh, and Miss Bianca from The Rescuers, if non-human characters are allowed...

Also, definitely Julianne Moore in Far from Heaven.
posted by sively at 1:27 AM on November 11, 2010


Mad Men's Joan, and maybe Megan, from what little we've (including Don!) seen of her thus far.
posted by jgirl at 4:43 AM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also Sarah, from "Sarah, Plain and Tall."
posted by jgirl at 4:44 AM on November 11, 2010


I'd be remiss if I didn't suggest Mrs. Doubtfire.
posted by theraflu at 5:23 AM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


The two greatest ladies of Hollywood were British: Deborah Kerr and Greer Garson.

Specifically, Greer Garson as Mrs Miniver.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 5:44 AM on November 11, 2010


the ORIGINAL 1939 version The Women, which has an all-female cast.
posted by The Whelk at 6:57 AM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Vanessa Redgrave in Howard's End.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:11 AM on November 11, 2010


Myrna Loy in The Best Years of Our Lives.
Myrna Loy in The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer.
Myrna Loy in Cheaper by the Dozen.
Myrna Loy in Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House.
posted by mefireader at 9:06 AM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is Kyra Sedgwick in "The Closer" well-mannered enough? The show is a police procedural where she plays a southern woman who has taken on a high ranking job in the LAPD.
posted by rmd1023 at 9:22 AM on November 11, 2010


I can't think of anything that fits this better than Clarice in Silence of the Lambs.
posted by Ashley801 at 9:26 AM on November 11, 2010


And maybe too stuffy/goody-two-shoes by virtue of being nuns, but the nuns who disabled the Nazis' cars at the end of the Sound of Music.
posted by Ashley801 at 9:29 AM on November 11, 2010


Nora Charles in The Thin Man.
posted by NoraReed at 9:40 AM on November 11, 2010


Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood

The Notebook
posted by FlamingBore at 9:45 AM on November 11, 2010


I wouldn't say Joan Holloway either - she's quite scary at times and (SPOILER) had an affair with a married man.

Bit left-field, but what about Helen Mirren's portrayal of The Queen in the film of the same name?

The important thing to remember is that 'lady' and 'American' just don't go together. You can be one or the other - never both.

Buuuuuuuuuuuuuuullshit. We're not talking about the landed gentry definition here (Jamie Lee Curtis is a Lady, and she's not British) but the Southern Belle archetype. Henry Miller's books are full of the moneyed young women too.
posted by mippy at 9:52 AM on November 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


I may be stating the obvious but the original Law and Order series had a number of District Attorney and Assistant District Attorneys that were female and (I think) strongly fit your description. To name a few:

Angie Harmon as ADA Abbie Carmichael
Jill Hennessy as ADA Claire Kincaid
Carey Lowell as ADA Jamie Ross
Dianne Wiest as DA Nora Lewin (though this might not fit your description as well as the others)
posted by mbatch at 12:02 PM on November 11, 2010


Julie Andrews in The Princess Diaries movies.
posted by jgirl at 3:19 PM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Robin Wright in The Princess Bride.
Sophie Marceau in Braveheart.
Nicoletta Braschi in Life is Beautiful.
Liv Tyler in The LOTR trilogy.
posted by hootenatty at 4:42 PM on November 11, 2010


Elizabeth Taylor in Giant and in A Place in the Sun.
posted by marsha56 at 11:37 AM on March 25, 2011


« Older Prank call and caller ID   |   Boy meets girl again, still too shy Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.