Little Old Rich Ladies

The Brent U3A  term has started. Another member of the group has taken over the monthly programming. The Lexi still advertise the afternoon sessions as  “Hidden Gems” as if Senior Matinees would deter some viewers. To be fair when they advertised as the U3A  film matinees, people thought that the screenings were not open to the public.

The first film was The Producers (1968). An appreciative audience mainly of our U3A members. Somehow the Lexi does not seem to attract the local older audience.

In this outrageously over the top satire of show biz, no one escapes. The funders, producers, directors, actors, gays, old women, and of course Hitler and the Nazis and the musical form.   The  investors, in this case are rich old ladies in search of sexual excitement and games.  The producer Bialystock (Zero Mostel,  in a hilarious performance) complies with their demands for a cash return.

The title sequences are intercut with funny scenes of Bialystock playing flirting games with ‘Hold Me Touch Me’  (Estelle Winwood) and finally obtaining the precious cheque. Winwood is amazing in the energy she deploys in acting in these romps. She was 85 at the time.  She did not like the film: “Oh, that dreadful picture. I can’t bear to watch it, even on a small television. I must have needed the money – living in Hollywood weakens one’s motives. It reminds me of the saying that nobody ever went broke underestimating the American public’s taste”. This great actor had  played middle class Mabel in the British film Alive and Kicking (1964) without a trace of American accent. 

There are in the introduction of the film other very brief scenes of the producer with old rich women to show  Bialystock’s fund-raising strategies. Deafness, senility, insecurity, delusions of youth, in the old women, nothing escapes Mel Brooks’s satirical scalpel.  The title sequences and the old women investors clips  can be seen on You Tube. Also available on You Tube is the dance of The Old Ladies with Zimmer frames in the 2005 remake of the film. A film I will not rush to see.


An interesting detail:   The cinematic image of the motorcycle signifying youth and liberation is made fun of in The Producers but taken oh so seriously in The Marigold Hotel . (Please let me know if you have come across other pairing of an old lady and a motorcycle)

About rinaross

Born in 1935. MA in Film and Television Studies at the University of Westminster 1998. Studying the representation of older women in film since then.
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6 Responses to Little Old Rich Ladies

  1. Joan Padro says:

    Rina, We will all miss you at the films. Cheers, Joan

    Date: Sun, 30 Sep 2012 16:54:57 +0000 To:

  2. rinaross says:

    It feels good to be appreciated. I will be at the screening as often as I can and I will also blog when appropriate. I just needed to have more time to carry on my research. It seems that the academics are getting more interested in us old women and I feel I need to keep up to date. Also there seem to be more films about older women and viewing them is getting much more time consuming than it used to be.

  3. You’ve sold The Producers to me, but I’m increasingly struggling to find the motivation to watch Best Marigold. I just use the trailer with my students!

  4. rinaross says:

    Oops!!! How negligent of me. Estelle Winwood was born and trained in England. Acted on stage and big screen on both sides of the Atlantic….

  5. Alexandra says:

    Harold and Maude (1971) has 85 year old Maude (Ruth Gordon) hijacking a policeman’s motorcycle with 20 something year old Harold (Bud Cort). Someone has uploaded a shortened version of the film on Youtube in segments but here is the link to the motorcycle escapade: I particularly love when Maude tells the policeman “not to be officious, you’re not yourself when you’re officious”! Am enjoying your blog very much and look forward to hearing more!

  6. rinaross says:

    Thanks for your comment and the link Alexandra. Yes Maude. Such a good example. Here the old woman is in the driving seat (in control) with the youth riding pillion. This image stresses the power of images and their sexist and ageist subtexts…. It would be interesting to collect such interesting details….

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