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During last year’s Snark Week, Trystan wrote an excellent post about unlikely Frock Flicks actors — actors that just don’t seem to suit historical movies or TV series. As the person who posts images to social media, I come across some real head-scratchers, so I thought I’d add my own contribution to the list of unlikely Frock Flicks actors: specifically, five actresses I just don’t understand. Your mileage may vary!
So this is low-hanging fruit, I know, but I needed five! Hilary Swank is a very talented actress, but she reads as super modern to me (it probably doesn’t help that she can’t do an accent to save her life). Every time I see her in a period piece, I think “WHY CASTING DIRECTOR?? WHY???”
Unfortunately Swank’s super modern style just made her acting seem super forced, which, combined with a cheesy script made for a clunker.
In Iron-Jawed Angels (2004), she was decent — it’s a more recent time period — although she was a WAY too prettified Alice Paul.
I haven’t seen The Black Dahlia (2006), but even in 1940s costume she seems like something from the 2000s rebooted 90210 (a more period hairstyle would probably help).
Casting her as Amelia (2009) Earhart was a much better call, given the 1920s setting and the fact that Earhart was such a tomboy.
Nonetheless, I wasn’t buying it.
I haven’t seen The Homesman (2014), but I’m not hopeful.
Okay, so this one may be super random, because it really all comes down to her mannerisms and hair in Casanova (2005). It’s a combination of her having to play spunky with those curly bangs, maybe? Because she hasn’t bugged me in other films, but MAN did she bug me in this one!
They’re more wisps here, but still. I wish they’d given her an actual period hairstyle and some powder, it would have gone a long way!
I can’t remember why she’s in her stays here, but I don’t like it.
Lena Olin’s butter blonde wigs were atrocious, but let us not forget to notice Miller in the background.
I’m glad she’s pulled her hair back, but SOMEONE BUY THIS GIRL A HAIRBRUSH.
It’s been too long since I saw 1940s-set The Edge of Love (2008), but I don’t recall disliking her.
I haven’t seen Live by Night (2016), but I like the kewpie doll 1930s look here!
Haven’t seen The Lost City of Z (2016) either, but she suits this hat.
I haven’t seen ANY of these films, but every time I come across pictures I think “what the HELL WERE THEY THINKING?” Okay, so she was a massive sex symbol, and it was an era with no pretense of historical accuracy. Nonetheless!
She plays an Edwardian prostitute in The Oldest Profession (1967). PLEASE tell me she’s shocked a man is offering her cleavage-ed, winged eyeliner-ed, bouffant-ed self money for sex.
I’m getting NOTHING period about western Bandolero (1968).
Clearly Bluebeard (1972) was going for wacky, but she’s a NUN with MASSIVE BOOBS and GO-GO BOOTS.
In 16th century-set The Prince and the Pauper (1977) her look can best be described as “sore thumb.”
Up there with Welch, Andress was another 1960s sex symbol who fell victim to the period’s love of casting slutty-seeming actresses in period films with super modern aesthetics.
With Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin in 4 for Texas (1963). This is the 1870s. Allegedly.
In World War I-set The Blue Max (1966), there’s NOTHING period about Andress’s look.
Undressing in public like a proper Edwardian lady would in The Southern Star (1969).
Okay, this looks much better … except for the eye makeup.
Okay so Red Sun (1971) is a spaghetti western, but I’m glad they found a good use for that Victorian teasing comb.
As EMPRESS JOSEPHINE showing off HER ASS in The Loves and Times of Scaramouche (1976).
Musketeering again in The Fifth Musketeer (1979).
As Liberté, égalité, choucroute (1985) resets the French revolution in Bagdad, it’s clearly not taking anything too seriously (Photo by Richard Melloul/Sygma/Sygma via Getty Images)
I give up (Photo by ? Richard Melloul/Sygma/CORBIS/Sygma via Getty Images).
Playing “Athalie” in Peter the Great (1986).
I can sort of buy her in 1940s-set Man Against the Mob: The Chinatown Murders (1989).
And now, an actress who may confuse all of you: Billie Whitelaw. She was a much-lauded English actress who I’ve only seen in one film … but her look is SO 1970S, and I come across photos of her too often, and I don’t know why but she BUGS THE SHIT OUT OF ME. For no reason. Other than looking 1970s. Hey, there’s no fairness in Snark Week.
In a TV production The Adventures of Robin Hood (1957). Yeah, that hair is SO medieval.
In 1820s Scotland … allegedly (The Flesh and the Fiends).
The Lady of the Camellias (1964). What is 1840s about those feathered bangs??
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1968). Alright, blame the bad video quality.
As Marie-Antoinette in the comedy Start the Revolution Without Me (1970). Okay, so they weren’t going for accuracy, but nonetheless she was SO WRONG in this part!
I can’t even.
Eagle in a Cage (1972) is set during the Napoleonic Wars. I guess at least she owns a hairbrush here?
Oh yeah, I’m getting SUCH a Regency/Empire vibe here!
As Empress Josephine in Napoleon and Love (1974). Not as bad as Ursula Andress, I grant you.
But I’m not feeling it.
Meh in 1920s-set The Fifty Pound Note (1975).
Acceptable in Jamaica Inn (1983).
I have NO IDEA WHAT IS 1840S ABOUT THIS (Camille).
Fine, whatever (The Dressmaker).
I can handle this (The Fifteen Streets).
I don’t remember her in Quills (2000), but I’ll bet she bugged me.
Which actors/actresses stick out like sore thumbs to you in period films?