Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Is Indy too old? (and what about Marian?)

posted by Nell Minow

My friend and fellow movie critic Christian Toto has a terrific article in Moviemaker about aging actors like Sylvester Stallone (“Rocky” and “Rambo”), Bruce Willis (“Die Hard”), and Harrison Ford (“Indiana Jones”) keeping their franchise series going over the decades.

Some of the recent aging action stars have hedged their bets by injecting their casts with younger stars. “Live Free or Die Hard” featured Justin Long (the Mac guy) to banter with Willis’ hero, and Ford will have teen sensation Shia LaBeouf (“Transformers”) to pal around with this spring.

[Film historian Patricia King] Hanson says today’s stars in general tend to shine longer, if not as bright, as their cinematic peers from earlier eras. Actors who ruled Hollywood in the 1940s all but disappeared as major attractions 30 years later.

Yet the actors who broke through in the 1960s and ’70s, like Jack Nicholson, Clint Eastwood and Robert De Niro, still command above-the-title respect today. Maybe it’s just that today’s actors are savvier about the roles they choose and how they navigate the press gauntlet to keep their names in the public’s mind. Or, offers Hanson, it could be that audiences realize the older stars look more and more like they do.

“I do believe that the demographics of the U.S. population help people accept older stars in action roles,” Hanson says.
One of the highlights of the new movie is the reappearance of Indiana Jones’ best leading lady, Karen Allen as Marian. Allen is 56 years old and has been living in Vermont as a fiber artist. She admitted that as soon as she got the call about being in the movie she went to the gym but she has not had the usual Hollywood “work” done — no Botox, no face lift. She is completely authentic and radiantly lovely.



  • b.g. stone

    Harrison Ford like Cary Grant has the appeal that will never get old!

  • Christian Toto

    Thanks for the shout out! I wrote the article before seeing “Indy 4″ and I must say my problems with the film have nothing to do with Ford’s age. He isn’t the same man as he was 20-plus years ago (though who would be?) but he acquits himself well in the film. Clearly, audiences don’t mind older actors saving the day again and again – as long as they keep their gym memberships active!

  • Linda

    I was pleasantly surprised at how great Ford is in this film. He also moves and quips as well as he did 20 years ago. Proof that 60 isn’t fatal (neither is 30, 40 or 50) Focus on age is often over emphasized, this film is proof.

  • Cindi

    Hello! I think the aging population helps the acceptance and reality of older actors. I can see Karen Allen being a fiber artist! That is great! I haven’t seen the movie, yet. Cindi

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks, Linda, and B.G., and I agree! My pleasure, Christian — always a delight to see and share your work.
    And thanks, Cindi! Let us know what you think when you see the movie. I will be interested to see whether this film attracted an older audience than the usual summer blockbuster. I predict that it has because so many of us have such great memories of seeing the original films when they were first released.

  • Robert Speaker

    Have not seen the movie yet, but the first three were great why not the fourth. Older actor younger actor, they are good actors!

  • Margaret McCleskey

    We all get older. I am a couple of years older that Harrison Ford and still just as good at most things as I ever was. Let’s not forget that 60 isn’t as old as it once was. I am a huge fan of the Indiana Jones franchise. I saw the latest movie last night with my son and really liked. It isn’t my favorite, but it isn’t my least favorite, either. I was glad to see Karen Allen back; missed Brody, though.

  • Donna

    Karen Allen *is* lovely, and it’s refreshing to see an older woman as the romantic lead. As long as the writers are realistic about what an aging body can actually do physically, which, judging from the trailer, they were with Indiana Jones, I’m all for movies starring older actors. (I haven’tseen the movie yet). Smarts and experience trumps derring-do and stunts any day.
    [Although, about aging bodies–wasn’t it Jack Palance who was doing one-handed pushups clear up into his 70s?]

  • Jenny

    Karen Allen looks fabulous–and, if not the typical 56 year old–certainly like someone who might be Indy’s contemporary. Shia LeBeouf plays well as their semi-delinquent love child. I went into this latest film with a little trepidation, but it’s a worthy successor to the series. Hopefully if there’s a fifth installment, Marion will be right there again keeping up the banter as she keeps up the pace.

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