Film & Television

‘Paris Can Wait’: Travels with Diane

Two things happened recently when the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin, Texas hosted women-only preview screenings of the new (and overdue) Wonder Woman. First, they sold out. Second, they roused the wrath of local men, who saw the action as discriminatory and punitive. “THIS IS A SEXIST OUTRAGE!” tweeted one dissatisfied would-be fan. The theater defended the decision; in fact, they added extra “No Guys Allowed” showings.

Next week, I’ll tell you more about Wonder Woman (the first big-budget film in years to focus on a female superhero, and the very first with a female director). In the meantime, I’m going to write about another wonder woman: Diane Lane, and another screening that was, albeit not intentionally, all-women. But, there were no complaints about that.

Lane, who is radiant at 51, was the daughter of a singer/model and a drama coach. She began her own theatrical career when she was just six. Her early (as in childhood) credits include stints with the avant garde La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club and a role alongside Meryl Streep in Joseph Papp’s production of The Cherry Orchard. She appeared in the off-Broadway cast of Runaways, but left the show (and New York) to star in 1979’s A Little Romance with Laurence Olivier. Back then, the legendary actor called her the “new Grace Kelly.” And, Time magazine put her on the cover as the epitome of a new batch of Hollywood “Whiz Kids.”

Two other seminal roles occurred a few years later when Francis Ford Coppola cast her in The Outsiders and Rumble Fish with other talented teens including Rob Lowe, Tom Cruise, Patrick Swayze, Matt Dillon and Coppola’s nephew, Nicholas Cage. (“She’s the undisputed female lead of Hollywood’s new rat pack,” observed artist and taste-maker Andy Warhol.) Lane appeared in two more films led by Coppola, 1984’s The Cotton Club and 1996’s Jack.

Now, decades later, Lane is in another Coppola movie. But this time, it’s Eleanor behind the camera. Francis Ford’s wife (and Sophia’s mother), Eleanor is making her feature film debut at age 81. Lane told CBS Sunday Morning that she couldn’t say no. “When that bell rings, it’s ‘Where do you want me?’” Lane remembers. “I mean. I’ve made four films for Francis, and Eleanor was there.”

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