Who Played the Last Action Heroine?

<i> Nancy Leff, director of Leff-Laffs Communications, is a humor consultant, motivational speaker and author of "Life: A Laffing Matter." She is launching a syndicated humor column, "Leffing Matters."</i>

In looking over the summer movies, once again I find a preponderance of little boy films. In recent years, while attention focused on the “Home Alone” farces starring Macaulay Culkin, “Free Willy” (with a boy co-star) and even a dreadful film with Arnold Schwarzenegger and a little boy, I ran to see “My Girl.” But even though it was about a girl, played very well by the talented Anna Chlumsky, all the publicity was about Culkin. Yes, there was a sequel, but how many other recent films have starred girls? Come to think of it, not much differs when it comes to women. But look who’s running the film capital.

Just glimpse at what’s out now: “Angels in the Outfield” and “Little Big League.” There would be nothing wrong with a girl baseball movie--couldn’t any of those have had a sex change? (Especially after the success of “A League of Their Own”?)

And another slew of boy films is upon us: I realize “The Client” is based on John Grisham’s book but. . . . And couldn’t “Lassie” star a girl this time around? It wouldn’t hurt my childhood memories of Tommy Rettig or Jon Provost a bit. Well, at least Lassie’s a girl (although played by males).

Also trotting around the track now is “Black Beauty.” Couldn’t this incarnation be about a horse and the girl who loved her? How about a little girl trying to find the perfect parents in “North?” And here comes the ‘90s version of “Little Rascals"--yes, there’s a cutie-pie new Darla, along with eight boys and a dog.


I am looking forward to seeing Tina Marjorino, a 9-year-old actress who has major roles in two new releases, “Corrina, Corrina” and “Andre.” This could be the start of a big career--and I’ll certainly welcome it.

Growing up, when it came to heroines, I had few to none. Saturday mornings brought only one, “Annie Oakley,” and I wanted so badly to be her. She was the sole oasis in a desert of males.

And Saturday matinees brought forth 17 cartoons, a newsreel and yes, more male films. Despite a crush on “The Lone Ranger,” I knew I couldn’t have adventures like his, or “Captain Midnight’s” or even like those on any of the prime-time shows, which pretty much also starred men--Westerns, cop shows, slick private eye guys. . . .

Nothing’s changed much in Tinseltown, even with us female types fighting for liberation and equality in past decades. Men still run Hollywood. Testosterone rules filmland--male-hormone-laden films starring clothed men and not-so-clothed women for adult boys; charming cute boy films with boy heroes for the younger set.


I admit to sometimes enjoying films like “Die Hard,” and I am pleased that sweet films are earning big bucks these days too. And having strong female hormones, I still turn up for anything starring the talented and still gorgeous Paul Newman.

Yes, I acknowledge a higher percentage of TV shows starring girls and women (I’m talking quantity here, not quality--that’s another issue), but I’m looking forward to seeing more films and TV with women both behind and in front of the camera, as well as writing the scripts, with lots of little girl vehicles for my niece to enjoy, so she can accept her future as a winner--and not just cartoons where the heroine changes the beast or gets to fly on a carpet with the hero.

It’s not that I want to do away with boy films, I just want an increase in vehicles for girls. And, interesting concept--what about films where the girls and boys are equal stars and protagonists?

Every summer my dander gets up about the same thing; with this summer’s releases, I’m putting it out there. It’s time Hollywood woke up and realized--and here’s the bottom line you producers can understand--how profitable catering to the 50% of ticket buyers who are females of all ages can be.