Saturday, May 22, 2010

My Fantasy Girlfriend - Miss Scott

Miss Scott is, of course, the sexiest secretary in film history - the personal assistant (and mistress) to the manic Pentagon bigwig, General Buck Turgidson (the marvellous George C. Scott's career-best performance), in Stanley Kubrick's masterful 1963 black comedy, Dr Strangelove.

It's not just her perfect figure (generously displayed by the bikini she wears to 'work'), though, that commands the attention. She exudes considerable poise and intelligence, as well as a kitten-ish playfulness - suggesting that she is actually very good at her job, in addition to being drop-dead gorgeous. It's a rather impressive acting performance, too: I love the way she switches so fluidly between her businesslike and flirtatious voices on the phone.

Of course, the thing with secretaries is that they're usually seen as being rather unimportant, subordinate, and - when there's also the frisson of a sexual dimension to the relationship - as submissive. That holds no appeal for me at all. Miss Scott, however, gives the impression of being quietly in control of things, smart enough and sexually confident enough to wrap her men around her little finger. The intimation that she also has (or has had, or could have) a relationship with the younger officer on the phone nicely reinforces what we'd naturally expect anyway, that she's the hottest damn thing in the Pentagon and can have any man she chooses - and would probably dump poor old Bucky in an instant when she finds someone who's better in bed or can give her better introductions on the Washington social scene. Any 'submissiveness' here is purely sex play. This is a very cool, very shrewd cookie - and that's what I find so irresistible.

I hadn't ever noticed while watching the film, but the same actress is also used as the the Playboy centerfold we briefly glimpse being admired by the pilot of the B-52, Major 'King' Kong (Slim Pickens). I learn from Wikipedia that the copy of Foreign Affairs magazine coyly draped across her bottom here is a celebrated issue from early 1963 in which there appeared an article by Henry Kissinger titled 'Strains In The Alliance'. Another example of Kubrick's obsessive attention to detail!

The actress/model who played her, Tracy Reed, was the step-daughter of the great English director, Carol Reed (and thus tenuously related to his nephew, the notoriously hell-raising actor, Oliver Reed), and was married for a while to the aristocratic actor, Edward Fox. She had quite a busy career through the 1960s, though mostly on British television or in rather unmemorable films. I gather she was on the shortlist to replace Diana Rigg as Steed's sidekick in The Avengers (I imagine she lost out because she looks too similar to Diana; though I can't help thinking she would have been a better choice than the rather lacklustre Linda Thorson). This striking appearance in Dr Strangelove would always be the high point of her career.... ... although this rather famous glamour shot of her by Patrick Lichfield probably takes second place.

To conclude, here is the complete scene from Strangelove (well, unfortunately, I couldn't find the Miss Scott scene in isolation on YouTube, so this is a pretty big chunk of the movie, beginning with Slim Pickens briefing his bomber crew that they are about to go "toe-to-toe with the Russkies"):

Ah, Miss Scott. I'd happily spend 80 years down a mineshaft with someone like her.


JES said...

We seem to have transcended the plane of mere coincidental interests here... I could have sworn you and I had a conversation here or at my place about Ms. Reed, because I remembered reading about her sometime within the last few months, and then telling someone what I'd read, and, well, of course if I'd not had that conversation with YOU, then who else...???

Alas, a Google search of my place and your two, including the comments, turned up only a single reference... this post itself. (Although it currently appears twice, once as the Froogville home page and once in its own right.)

Then I remembered: it was a conversation I'd had with The Missus, to or fro work one day recently. I forget why I'd looked up Ms. Reed in the first place, maybe just thinking of doing a general Strangelove post or something.

I may even have mentioned your Fantasy Girlfriend series in the context, but that's probably just overthinking the moment.

Followed your link back to the earlier Mrs Peel/Fantasy Girlfriend post. Entertaining scrap of dialogue there between reader omg and yourself!

Froog said...

Hm, so I'm channelling conversations with you about '60s pin-ups telephathically via your wife now, am I? That is disturbing.

Given your Missus' sensitivity on the matter of your appreciation of other ladies, I can't help thinking it was rather foolhardy of you to be discussing Tracy Reed with her at all.

I've mentioned Strangelove on here a few times before - one of my 10 Greatest Experiences In The Cinema, one of the first of my monthly 'Film Lists', for example. And I've embedded clips of General Ripper's 'precious bodily fluids' speech and President Muffley's one-sided telephone conversation with the Russian Premier ("Let me finish, Dmitri...").

I had a quick look through the IMDB entry on the film while I was preparing this, and - dipping into the 'worst' end of the reviews - found it thoroughly depressing to discover how many IMDB users just don't "get" it.

I look forward to your post on Strangelove - sooner rather than later, please. How old were you when you first saw it? Having lived through the Cuba Missile Crisis as a boy, you probably feel resonances in it that I can barely imagine.