Guest Diary

LIZ SMITH: "Tootsie" Revitalized ...

Dustin as Dorothy in "Tootsie."
Monday, December 22, 2014
by Liz Smith

"Tootsie" Revitalized on Criterion DVD ... Madonna Does Good Deeds in a Naughty World ... Is This Julianne Moore's Oscar Year? 

“RON? I have a name. It’s Dorothy. It’s not Tootsie or Toots or Sweetie or Honey or Doll.”

“Oh, *****!”

“No, just Dorothy. Alan’s always Alan, Tom’s always Tom and John’s always John. It’s Dorothy. Capital D-O-R-O-T-H-Y.”
"I have a name. It’s Dorothy ..."
THAT’S Dustin Hoffman, in “Tootsie,” asserting him/herself on the set of the soap opera in which he appears in disguise as Miss Dorothy Michaels.

“Tootsie” is not a holiday film, but it has such a feel-good vibe, I’ve always felt it’s perfect for the holidays, or any time you want to feel better about the human condition.
“Tootsie” is one of those movies that I always watch to the end, no matter at what point I come across it. It’s perfect.

Dustin is perfect, Teri Garr is perfect, Bill Murray is perfect, Charles Durning, Dabney Coleman and Sydney Pollack are perfect. (Pollack also directed.)
Perfect in “Tootsie” — Dustin, Teri Garr, and Sydney Pollack ...
Charles Durning ...
Dabney Coleman.
But the soft, lovely heart of this movie is Jessica Lange, who is beyond perfect. Vulnerable and sexy as Julie, the actress who drinks a little too much, looks for love and acceptance is so many of the wrong places, and finds the courage to stand strong through her friendship with “Dorothy.”

Just as Marilyn Monroe was the similarly provocative, insecure and deceived heroine of “Some Like Hot,” Lange becomes the star of the film. Her essence over-powers even Hoffman, in or out of drag. Lange won a well-deserved best-supporting actress Oscar for her performance.
Beyond perfect — Jessica Lange.
NOW, Criterion DVD has put out a sparkling new restoration of “Tootsie.” The extras include deleted scenes, a new interview with Dustin Hoffman, several documentaries about the making of the film and wardrobe and screen tests.

And, lucky me, I received this DVD as a Christmas present. Now I turn on “Toostie” whenever I like, I get to watch, among other priceless bits, Teri Garr go slowly out of her mind as her boyfriend, Hoffman, juggles his female impersonation. “Friends?” he says at one point. “No we’re not friends” Garr replies. “I don’t take this s**t from friends. Only lovers.”
“I don’t take this s**t from friends. Only lovers.”
SINCE THIS is the season of giving — or at least it should be — let’s hear from our friend Madonna, who still tends to receive more publicity when she’s posing for sexy photos than she does for good deeds in a naughty world. (Madonna wants to be all things to all men — pop star, sex-symbol, good actress, humanitarian, and a woman of a certain age who doesn’t give a damn what you think about her certain age. Or her younger boyfriends.)

The Big M recently gave an interview to Rahim Kanani regarding her ongoing work in the African country of Malawi. Madonna explains that when she learned that over one million children had been orphaned by AIDS in one of poorest spots in Africa, she was galvanized. “I felt an overwhelming sense of responsibility to get involved.”
Madonna in Malawi.
She has been helped in her efforts by “an amazing human being, Dr. Eric Borgstein ... I set out on this journey to help children orphaned by AIDS, not to win a popularity contest. However, nothing prepared me for the level of doubt and suspicion aimed at my intentions. I made many mistakes in the beginning. However I have learned from my mistakes and I have strengthened many long-standing relationships. My commitment has never wavered. We are about to embark on our biggest project yet with pediatric surgery at Queen Elizabeth Hospital.”
Madonna with Dr. Eric Borgstein.
Madonna was a straight-A student in high school — before the bright lights of New York beckoned with “You will conquer the world!” She says, “I am passionate about education in general, but specifically for women and children. Knowledge is power! Access to education changes lives, especially for girls.”

Go online to Madonna’s “Ray of Light Foundation” and learn more about the things she has done, is doing, will continue to do for women and children living in the dark.
MICHELLE PFEIFFER is one great beauty. Well, we all know that. But now those classic cheekbones and famously limpid blue eyes are being recognized by a generation that wasn’t even born — or were very young! — when Pfeiffer’s career was at its white hot peak.

The star is mentioned in two current pop songs — “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars and Vance Joy’s “Riptide.” I think perhaps Michelle’s appearance in Tim Burton’s 2012 feature, “Dark Shadows” re-introduced her to a fresh audience.

It’s always nice to be a muse.
PREDICTION: If director Richard Glatzer’s movie “Still Alice” gets some traction, his star, the super-talented Julianne Moore might be the one to beat in the Best Actress Oscar sweepstakes. Moore’s performance as a woman battling the early signs of Alzheimer’s is brilliant, a career-best. Julianne has been nominated four times for the Oscar, and is considered one of the most talented, versatile and just plain nice people around.

Many Hollywood insiders want this to be Julianne Moore’s year. We shall see.

Contact Liz Smith here.