Cinema: The Moonchild and the Fifth Beatle

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(10 of 10)

Different as they are in conversation, background and life style, Farrow and Hoffman remain peculiarly identical in their view of films and their down-look on Hollywood. For the moment at least, they share a professional bond as foremost symbols of a freshening in American cinema: They are even valid sex symbols: the man with the postgraduate face, the mixed-up, half-hippie woman with fear in her eyes.

Not that the pneumatic uplift of a Raquel Welch is suddenly undesirable. But it is only one of many symbols. There have been haunted girls and unprepossessing men before—Audrey Hepburn was never known for her measurements, and Humphrey Bogart commanded affection even though he looked accident-prone. But there has never before been such a crowd of real faces, so many young actors resembling young audiences—and young audiences pay for 65% of the movie tickets in America.

To expect all the flimflam to be swept away is, of course, absurd. Pressagents and windup plastic starlets are as much a part of movies as acetate; in one way or another, they always will be. And no matter how actors and actresses play themselves down, their films play them up. Movies are wide-screened, stereophonic and 30 times larger than life—so are actors. What is important is that many of the young actors can separate the reflected face on the screen from the original in the mirror.

Wallace Stevens once wrote that a community of originals is not a community. But each year brings more originals, more actresses like Mia Farrow, who asks: "What does it mean to be a star today? The only real value it has is in being offered more and better parts." And Dustin Hoffman, who says, "I've always had this fantasy—every actor has, I guess—that when I made it, I'd be able to do whatever I wanted." Up in the Hollywood hills, the superstars may grumble at the youngsters who have turned their backs on the old values. But not so long ago, young audiences rebelled against the old ways by staying away from movie theaters. The new anti-stars might just be the prescription for the problem of the antiaudience.

* Hannah Green's 1964 novel of an institutionalized schizophrenic girl who created a fantasy world where imaginary rules alternately punished and rewarded her.

* For whom the Beatles wrote the song of the same name.

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