Movies: A Supremacy All Her Own

Too often the nice one, Joan Allen takes charge

If womanhood is a continuum, with Ruth Bader Ginsburg on one end and Jessica Simpson on the other, Joan Allen occupies a sparsely populated middle position: the dignified babe. It's a precarious perch, and not just because it seems such an oxymoron. It's dangerous, at least for an actress, because Hollywood doesn't know what to do with you. Or rather it knows exactly what to do with you: you play the wife. The nice but uptight wife.

Allen, then, has been much married. To Anthony Hopkins' Nixon in Nixon. To Daniel Day-Lewis' John Proctor in The Crucible. To Kevin Kline's cheating...

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