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Top Ten: Influential Female Film Characters - Andie Walsh, Pretty in Pink (1986)

June 23, 2017

 

Hello there! So this is officially my first blog post as part of The Five Dollar Shake. I am so excited and apprehensive, all at the same time so please excuse my introductory ramble. My name is Casey and i'm from Rossendale, a small valley around 20 minutes from Manchester. If you would like to hear a little more about me and my involvement with film please take a look at my fancy new about me page. The Five Dollar Shake film blog has been my creative intention for a real long time and after heaps of procrastination and pages of incoherent notes and doodles, I decided it was about time I bit the bullet and got this show on the road (yee-haw). 

 

As an introduction, I have decided to launch a ten-part feature which intends on exploring some of the film characters which have shaped my thriving enthusiasm for cinema. I hoped that a spirited investigation into some of the iconic portrayals, which have inspired and empowered, would provide further insight into the future tone and theme of The Five Dollar Shake - without being overshadowed by my unflatteringly obsessive analysis (fingers crossed). Oh and one more thing, as if identifying ten characters across my 25 years of film watching wasn't tricky enough, I decided to add to this challenge further by centralising this feature on only influential female film characters - wish me luck. 

 

Andie Walsh – Pretty in Pink (1986) 

 

I was 12 years old when I first caught my glimpse of the original Brat Pack. A late-night screening of The Breakfast Club somewhere into my second year of high school, completely inspirited me in a way that has remained unmistakably definitive of my angsty youth. Admittedly, I watch it back today and find some of the themes a little juvenile but The Breakfast Club led me on the trail for other colourful, eighties flicks which have me convinced I was born an decade too late, courtesy of course by John Hughes.

 

Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, Emilio Estevez, Ally Sheedy, Judd Nelson (The Breakfast Club, 1985)

 

John Hughes demonstrated that you can deliver a commercial, teen movie without compromising on the thoughtfulness and authenticity of the characters. Themes of socio-economic class, cultural identity, mental health, love and lust are all explored and encompassed in raw coming-of-age tales which take place in a fragmented ‘teen utopia’, constructed in the suburbs of Chicago. Ally Sheedy, Mary Stuart Masterson and Kelly LeBrock have all been praised for their diverse and dominant roles as part of a John Hughes feature, but to me, the magic of these films will always be defined by the forever-cool and totally untouchable, Andie Walsh.

 

Casting Molly Ringwald as the female protagonist in the 1986, high school rom-com ‘Pretty in Pink’ may have been an obvious move but the characters humble, intelligent and strong poise was not as expected. Emotionally unstable portrayals of women dressed in power-suits were making an appearance across most fictional US TV Shows and films, mirrored by a republican threat to further compromise Women’s rights under the administration of Reagan and Bush. As employment hit a low for that decade, Pretty in Pink, Hughes’ third film starring Ringwald, tackled this social conflict with a strategy motivated by Andie Walsh’s thrifted frocks from ‘the five-and-dime’. (Credited to Costume Designer, Marilyn Vance)

 

 Molly Ringwald's portrayal of Andie Walsh (Pretty in Pink, 1986)

 

Through style, soundtrack and language Andie Walsh manifests the films stark intention to contrast the slick aesthetic of the upper-class private school boys and in doing so, presents a sweet irony to the movies stationary, political backdrop. More than 30 years later is is evident how the portrayal of Andie Walsh has inspired a generation of women with fearless freedom of expression characterised by creative capability. 

 

 

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