Think back to your impressionable years. Those times when your understanding of life began to take shape. When you weren’t quite a child, but you were far from an adult. At one point an actress or actor in a cast was just that, part of the cast. Your young eyes wouldn’t necessarily focus on a single actor based on their physical appearance. But at some point, like a ship emerging from the fog, the way you viewed things changed. I can remember that switch being flipped, not a specific moment, but all of a sudden I took notice of women in movies in a different way. I was young enough to still be innocent, but old enough to know I liked when certain women where onscreen.
For instance, since my journey into young adulthood and on to full blown adulthood, Adrienne Barbeau was, in my opinion, the picture of femininity. In her day Ms. Barbeau was a knockout, to say the least. Even now, at her age she still manages to retain that beauty.
As a kid I watched a ton of movies, and looking back it seems like most starred Adrienne Barbeau. The Fog, Swamp Thing, Escape From New York, Creepshow, and Back to School all featured Ms. Barbeau in some capacity. But when I watched these movies (multiple times) as a kid, she never caught my eye the way she would just a few years later. The same goes for Cindy Morgan who was in Tron and Caddyshack, another two of my childhood staples.
The idea for this post came after a flurry of recent rewatches which I first saw during that impressionable period and reminded me of the brief time in my youth when my eyes were magically opened to the opposite sex.
Elisabeth Shue was one of my favorites especially after seeing The Karate Kid during what I’ll call my “awakening.” She was cute as a button, and upon a recent rewatch I found she looked shockingly young. I hadn’t seen The Karate Kid in years and I found myself still looking at her in a longing manner the same way I did during my awakening. Which made me feel like a creep, but I just found out she was in her late teens/early twenties during filming. Whew.
The multiple viewings of The Last Starfighter and Night of the Comet alone put Catherine Mary Stewart in my top tier. She was (and still is) quite gorgeous. I mean, look at her hair! In both of the above films the characters she played also helped cement my young cinematic crush.
Ami Dolenz popped back up on my radar after I rewatched Miracle Beach, which admittedly falls well after my awakening, but I then remembered her from She’s Out of Control. I recall being quite taken by her, which is saying something because I was a huge Tony Danza fan.
Supergirl introduced me to her, but The Legend of Billie Jean made me really notice Helen Slater. Billie Jean was a bad ass who took a stand, chopped off her hair and did what she thought was right. She also took a swim in very little clothing. Toss in that innocently charming Texas accent, and I was sure my young mind couldn’t handle it. I’m not sure I knew exactly why at the time, but I really liked her. I remember being super jealous of Keith Gordon’s character Lloyd because of his relationship with Billie Jean, and his awesome room. Side note, I also “love that chicken.”
And finally, the crown jewel, the apple of my newly awakened eye, Jennifer Connelly. The Rocketeer and Career Opportunities fall at the tail end of my awakening but I just had to include her. I think I saw Labyrinth in the middle of my awakening, but she was just a kid then. I found her quite easy on the eyes in The Rocketeer, partly because of her innate beauty, but also the hair, makeup and wardrobe of the film’s setting works really well on her.
I know everyone must have a list of actors or actresses that helped usher in their “awakening.” Let me know in the comments who did it for you in that period where you weren’t quite a child, but weren’t yet a gross teenager.