Friday, February 23, 2007
Long undervalued as one of the great beauties and most diverse actresses of the seventies, Margot Kidder and several of her films have continued to endure all these years later.
Many people who grew up in the seventies fell in love with Margot as Lois Lane in the Superman films. It is a part that she will always be connected to, I couldn't even see the newest Superman film because I already had my Clark Kent and Lois Lane.
Margot started her career in the late sixties in Gaily Gaily and has appeared in well over 100 films and tv shows since then. A dedicated worker who has survived more blows than most of us could even began to handle, Margot is working on several projects in the next year alone.
The earliest role that she had, that is among my favorites, is her part as the American student Zarel in the underrated 1970 Gene Wilder film Quackser Fortune Has A Cousin In The Bronx. Fortune is one of the sweetest films and characters from the early seventies and its tragi-comic feel has stuck with me for many years. Margot is breathtaking as the selfish young student who romances and ultimately abandons Quackser. I have read reports that Margot wasn't happy on this set which is a shame because I think this is such a wonderful little film and it features one of the great Wilder's finest performances.
Margot would continue with many film and tv roles before scoring the starring role in her friend Brian De Palma's classic Sisters from 1973. De Palma's triumphant film features perhaps Margot's best performance, as a schizophrenic Siamese twin. It is a tricky role that would have become strictly camp in a lesser actresses hands but Margot handles it beautifully and injects the part with much more humanity and realism than most genre films are accustomed to. Margot would start the ball rolling for De Palma and lead the way for the great work he would do later in the decade with everyone from Amy Irving to Nancy Allen.
Margot would score another horror hit a year later with the influential Black Christmas. Along with Mario Bava's Twitch Of The Death Nerve, Bob Clark's Black Christmas remains one of the most copied horror films ever made. A virtual blueprint for John Carpenter's Halloween, this Canadian shocker would give us one of Margot's most most entertaining roles. As the foul mouthed and sexy Barbie, Margot easily stole every scene she was in (not easy when you are working with everyone from Olivia Hussey to John Saxon) and she looks like she was having a ball doing it. This stylish thriller is now available in yet another dvd edition, this time featuring an interview with Margot recalling her time making it.
The hard to find Reincarnation of Peter Proud is one of many spooky seventies films that has slipped under the radar. I still have fond memories of seeing this film on tv years ago and have hoped for a DVD release but one has still yet to be announced.
More tv work would follow before Margot would land the role that would grant her immortality and would send her into the dreams of every teenager in the seventies. Many actresses have played Lois Lane but none ever inhabited that iconic character with as much charm and charisma as Margot. Perhaps it is a generational thing but for me she is the one and only Lois Lane.
The recent re-releases of the Superman films show clearly how important Margot was to their success and as her involvement became lessened the films suffered. Still the first two are grand entertainments and the chemistry she shared with the great Christopher Reeve affected an entire generation.
Margot would become a bona fide superstar in between the first two Superman films and her great appearances on Saturday Night Live and her Rolling Stone cover story added to her allure. While 1979's Amityville Horror isn't a great film by any means it remains one that many people, including myself, enjoy revisiting. Perhaps it is more nostalgia than anything else but the film and Margot in it retain a certain power.
The 1980's would find Margot in many good performances in mostly flawed films like Heartaches, Some Kind Of Hero and Trenchcoat. Her tv work also continued, including an interesting remake of Bus Stop.
Her peak was that period in the seventies when she was at the height of her beauty and at her most powerful as an actress. My heart has continually gone out to her through her troubles in the past couple of decades and I've been so proud to see her always emerge as a strong and dignified woman who seems incapable of giving up. She has become a great character actress and wonderful role model, we should all be so blessed to have just half her strength.