Lawless – Pretty boy actors never get hurt

Recommendation: Only go and see it to get out of the rain

Why is it that pretty boy actors never seem to suffer from beatings, however protracted or vicious?

In this quite dire film the LeBoeuf character is almost beaten to a pulp. However in the next scene you would have thought he had gone through nothing more traumatic than a bad shaving experience.

With such a beating he would be spitting out teeth, have a broken jaw, would be puffed up for days and then his face would be black and blue for weeks. He wouldn’t be able to speak let alone pledge revenge; wouldn’t be able to stand up, let alone take a casual drink at the bar; and would have been a stretcher case after receiving such punishment to the head.

Yet he is out courting the preacher’s daughter within a day or two

Why is this?

This is not an isolated situation. It was almost the same in Gangs of New York (2002) when Leo DeCaprio gets slashed with a meat cleaver by the Butcher but again, after a few days convalescence under the ministrations of a pretty girl, all we see is a scratch. Perhaps having a pretty nurse can perform a miracle cure?

There seems to be a rule in Hollywood (or is it written into their contract) that pretty boys can’t even be seen to be marred on the screen, at least for no longer than is necessary. Is this because heroes can’t be permanently physically scarred as that indicates evil in Hollywood filmography. And pretty boys are not really evil, even when they take on the role of a baddie (as, for example, is the case in Brad Pitt’s latest outing in Killing them softly, (2012)).

To do this might turn away shallow little girls from the cinema or the studio might get complaints from fans disturbed that their pin-up boys are damaged goods.

But this is not a new phenomena.

Paul Newman, in Cool Hand Luke (1967), gets beaten until he can’t stand up by George Kennedy. He looks slightly bruised as he finally collapses to the floor, with no strength left to fight (though his will remains intact) but he recovers incredibly quickly considering they are in the barbaric environment of a southern US prison farm.

At least Newman was, generally, a good actor – although DeCaprio is getting better but LaBoeuf still has a long way to go.

It’s possible to go even further back when the likes of Alan Ladd or John Wayne would get beaten up by the ‘baddies’ and as they pick themselves up out of the dirt they only need a flick of the head to get their hair back into place. The only injury they display is no more than a drop of false blood from the side of the mouth, to be gently wiped away with the hankie of whichever ‘doxy with a heart of gold’ who has been contracted for the film.

However, this is not the case with pretty women. For example, Jessica Alba in The Killer Inside Me (2010). There was a lot of criticism surrounding this film that the violence was gratuitous and that turned a lot of people against the film with accusations of misogyny.

Violence plays a part in the cinema in the same way that it does in society. OK, cinema probably depicts a disproportionate amount. But technology now provides film makers with the ability to present images and sounds that are even more real than reality and has the effect of making it more horrific. This seems to be a positive rather than a negative result as meaningless violence can be made out to be so sickening that it has the effect of making it more unacceptable.

If cinema can have such an effect it seems a shame to spoil it just to fulfil the contracts of the boy star.

After all it’s only a film, nobody is really being purposefully hurt. Watch The Stuntman (1980). They get up, remove the prosthetic rubber and go out partying that night.