20 October 2006 | 17268
Speaking of aging spectacularly
Maureen O'Hara was one of the most spectacular beauties in Hollywood history. When she made "The Last Dance," she was 82--and still a stunning woman. Because many of her films were action films and westerns, it's easy to forget that O'Hara was also an excellent actress. Here she plays a retired Latin teacher--yes, Latin was once taught in public schools, folks--who reconnects with a former student who is now a male nurse. The plot is reminiscent of "Good Morning, Miss Dove," with Jennifer Jones, another beauty who has aged well.
The former student keeps an eye on the teacher when she leaves the hospital, and soon his family (wife and two children) becomes involved as well. The plot is interesting, and the movie is well-written and very well-acted by the cast. What could easily slide into bathos is genuinely moving as the film gradually reveals via well-integrated flashbacks the teacher's life, past as well as present. A bus trip and a day at the beach are extremely well-done.
"The Last Dance" is one of those films that really has to be seen to be appreciated; it's very quietly done but beautifully realized. When you watch O'Hara, think about what most of the current crop of "actresses" will look like and what their performances will be like when they are in their eighties--if any of them manage to maintain a career past the age of thirty.