I don't know about other countries, but it was pointed out (for the umpteenth time) in France this week that although women over the age of 50 make up 51% of the adult female population in France, in 2015 women over the age of 50 represent only 8% of female characters in movies. In 2016 the percentage was down to 6%.
With Catherine Deneuve (age 75) and Isabelle Huppert (age 66) taking about half of those roles, it's not leaving much room for other older actresses. And both of them still appear topless in certain movies, which is something that not every actress is willing to do.
I don't see enough movies to really pronounce on the situation, but that sounds about right. Also, past a certain age, women in movies or tv were/are too often considered figures of fun, although I'd say expensive (i.e. cable, etc.) television is starting to move away from that.
Men have almost always had better, meatier roles in movies, and usually depicted as being able to get the girls even with obvious age differences of up to 40 years. I think this is changing and older men will soon see the same sidelining women have had all along.
What with the rise of millennials, a singularly entitled and precious group who blame the baby boomers for all their woes, ignorant suppositions about age groups other than their own abound. The entertainment industry probably panders to this, as millennials are the current target group. I saw A Star is Born (the new one) on the plane. Lady Gaga played a person of approximately her real age (33) and her father was played by Andrew Dice Clay (61 in real life), so more or less accurate as father-daughter casting. In one scene, Clay and his same-aged cohorts are shown as absolutely amazed, confused and delighted by the phenomenon of YouTube, something these "codgers" had just discovered.
Another dismal statistic concerns women directors. While the number of movies directed by women in France has risen to about 30% (from 20% not much more than 10 years ago). This is the world record. Women directors of feature films in the United States represent only 10% of the total. Apparently, the percentage is 4.3% for big budget movies. A ray of hope: the blockbuster Wonder Woman was directed by a woman. But quite a few women directors in the United States are working for television instead -- probably because nobody pays attention to who directs made-for-video movies or the various series.
It has also been pointed out that 50% of the graduates of film school in France are women... and yet the percentage of those working still bleeds away.
I doubt that any of the women here will be surprised by this.
Here is a bit of truth about the problem with actresses:
"and usually depicted as being able to get the girls even with obvious age differences of up to 40 years"
What still continues to annoy me besides the infrequency of older women in movies, is the continuous use of the grandfatherly man with the much younger woman. Now, I think that is more men's fantasies than anything else because, when having been that age, the last thing I was interested in was a geezer even if he had money. Money was not what I wanted. And let's be frank, older men weren't very good at what I wanted. In the The Capitain Marleaus (recommended by the enlightened critic K2) Ive watched, at least half have had the 70 year old the father of a 10 year old or the lover of a 30 something . . . and these directed by a lesbian who should be more sensitive to a woman's point of view.
I have always assumed that the Hollywood problem -- and pretty much the French problem, too -- is that the film industry is controlled mostly by elderly or mature men who have a very specific idea of how the world should be. (Harvey Weinstein anyone?) I was disgusted by Woody Allen decades before he got in trouble because here was this creepy middle aged man always having not the slightest problem getting the sexy girl at least 20 or 30 years younger. Yuck! The producers absolutely loved the idea, and so if Jack Nicholson or Harrison Ford or Michael Douglas or Robert De Niro fall in love, it is never with anybody their own age. Even more pathetic is that it pretty much plays out in their real lives.
The control of the film industry by elderly or mature men has led to the complete disregard of the basic fact that women like sex too and have a right to expect a certain level of performance from their men. In 2019, me too and all, we're still dealing with the madonna/whore picture. We can adjust to the idea of women's abuse by men, but we can't seem to adjust to the idea that women who "want it" are perfectly normal.
I can think of only one movie where an older guy (Jack Nicholson) ends up with an older woman. I think it was called Something's Got to Give (I saw it on a bus in S America so this might be wrong), but Nicholson discovers he is sick, decides to apologize to all the (young!) women he has been nasty to and falls in love with the mother of one of them. The mother is played by Diane Keaton, so not exactly an old bag.
Otherwise, I agree with you all -- it always bothers me when older guys have young girlfriends. I really liked "Manhattan" as a movie, but certainly wondered where the girl's parents were -- Woody Allen was 42 and the girlfriend was 17 and in high school.
Yeah, Anne Bancroft looked pretty good for an old lady. Maybe because in reality she was only six years older than Dustin Hoffmann and eight years older than her "daughter" Katherine Ross. I wonder how the movie would have played using an authentically older woman.
At the end of his Damage Louis Malle delivers a zinger. After the older Jeremy Irons and much younger Juliette Binoche, his son’s main squeeze, finish their obsessive relationship during which we are coerced into believing she’s a nutcase, we find Irons in sandals in a shabby room, think Marrakesh, where he states that he never saw her again, except once when passing through an anon airport he saw her with her husband, her boyfriend since childhood, and child. He lost everything, she apparently nothing.
Leslie Caron looks absolutely fantastic in a magnificent wardrobe.
And Angela Lansbury was only 3 years older than Lawrence Harvey in The Manchurian Candidate.
I know we are discussing Western culture here, where the ideal is young man and young woman fall in love and all ends happily...usually. In many cultures the ideal is the man has to be able to support a wife and family, be a stable and respected member of the community, own property or prospects of a comfortable living for his wife. The expectation is that his wife is a virgin, therefore the women marry when they are still young. Biblical scholars put Mary's age as 15, and Joseph's at 45-50.
It was also common in the Jane Austen days as well. The pattern in the West seems to have died out around the time of The Great War.
Travel! Set out and head for pastures new[br] Life tastes the richer when you’ve road worn feet.[br]Ibn Battuta[br]
Yes, but so did a whole generation of young men. There were a lot of spinsters and widows after both world wars. I guess there was some of that in the early 19th century as well, but not on such a mass scale.
Lagatta your response brought out such chuckles. When I asked my aunts why they married such miserable, impossible, grouchy, temperamental men the answer. "After the war (I) and flu epidemic there wasn't much to choose from besides cripples and old men."
I too at that time of my life found older women (here meaning women perhaps 20-25 years older than myself) frequently alluring, often more so than women closer to my own age who might have looked great but honestly weren't very interesting as people yet, but they were seldom single or available, and in any case how could I hope to compete with men closer their own ages who were so much more sophisticated and worldly than I.
At the risk of coming across as hubristic, I still at sixty find women much younger than myself frequently being flirtatious and plainly interested. And although I am slim and reasonably conventionally attractive, have all my hair etc., I certainly don't present as a "sugar daddy" type who would attract women for that reason. I've obviously never been a woman of a similar age, so I don't know if they are likely to experience similar things at this age. I know women around my age who are spectaularly attractive, but they are rare in the same way these people are rare at any stage of life. Let's face it, most people aren't strikingly attractive even in their primes.
Lot of interesting comments here, but overwhelmingly about older women as objects of sexual desire or not. What about the other invisibility of older women in movies, i.e. in leading roles, in roles not necessarily only about their being women, in roles without knee-jerk stereotypes, etc.:
Emma Thompson (age 60) in The Children Act is an example of a major role for a woman without involving sex, but such roles seem to be few and far between. Before that, I can think of Brenda Blethyn in Secrets and Lies made when she had just turned 50.
Glenda Jackson has been missing from our screens for almost 30 years. Of course she had a good reason since she was an MP for most of that time, but she was always one of my favourite actresses, from Women in Love to The Music Lovers to Sunday Bloody Sunday to Mary, Queen of Scots, and I will not denigrate her lighter films either, even if they appealed to me less.
Finally, she is returning in Elizabeth is Missing. I don't know how long it will take for me to see it, but I will be there.