Last March I suggested that the emphatically carnal, thick-lipped Scarlet Johansson wasn’t a great choice to play the thin-lipped, somewhat rigid-mannered Janet Leigh in Sacha Gervasi‘s Hitchcock. I failed to mention another disharmonious element: Leigh came up in an era in which all Hollywood actresses had smallish, slender noses — it was pretty much absolute law — while Johansson’s nose is slightly wider and thicker, which blends with (or has been permitted by) today’s less Anglicized aesthetic.
About 14 years ago I wrote a piece about slightly bulbous, bee-stung noses becoming slightly more noticable among younger actresses of the day (Kirsten Dunst, Claire Danes, Chloe Sevigny), but my Mr. Showbiz bosses said “no, no, no…that will push the envelope and anger people.” People get irked whenever I remind that beauty standards were narrower and stricter and more white-bread in the old days. You can throw spitballs and stamp your feet all you want, but noses had to be fairly small and narrow or button-like in the big-studio era, the ’50s and the ’60s. That’s one reason why Barbra Streisand was such a breakthrough phenomenon when she starred in Funny Girl in ’68.