Guilty Pleasures: Rosemary Harris

Well , Patti set the bar pretty high last week with An Affair to Remember. Yes, it’s a tearjerker but it has stood the test of time and with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr it has a certain cachet and a place in film history. I considered upgrading my original G.P. choice, picking a minor classic or some obscure 1950s sci-fi flick so that I would sound cooler but what the heck, it’s a guilty pleasure, right?
Just to let you know – I am not a wuss. I will watch The Godfather, Gladiator, Shawshank Redemption or The Professional at a moment’s notice. Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, I’m there. But I also love Miss Congeniality. Go figure.
A lot of traditional mystery writers adore Sandra Bullock. And what’s not to love? She’s the plucky, feisty heroine many of us envision when write our own female characters who buck the odds, use their smarts and catch the criminals. Just pretty enough and just tough enough. With any luck they also get to knock the crap out of a couple of bad guys. Maybe that’s why I love Miss Congeniality.

Bullock plays a not-very-girlie FBI agent forced to go undercover at a beauty pageant. Of course there’s the ugly duckling turning into a swan thing. That’s been a staple in movies from Pygmalion to The Devil Wears Prada. There’s a crafty villain and an actual crime, even though the body count is, forgive me, 34-22-32. (Feel free to groan.) Then we’ve got Michael Caine and William Shatner , who have most of the best lines in the movie as a pageant consultant and emcee. Even after repeating viewings watching Michael Caine “glide” and listening to him deliver zinger after zinger to Bullock’s gun-toting Gracie Lou Freebush is a hoot. The pageant itself (“it’s a scholarship program!”) and the other contestants are easy to poke fun at, but it’s done with affection and by the end even tough gals will be cheering for world peace!

Rosemary Harris is the author of the Anthony and Agatha-nominated Pushing Up Daisies. Her latest book, Dead Head was called “a perfect summer book” by NPR and no less a authority than Crimespree Magazine called Harris “a rising star who should be on everyone’s shelf.” Look for Rosemary’s next book, Slugfest(Minotaur, May 2011) and visit her at http://www.rosemaryharris.com/