Beyoncé’s catfight in ‘Obsessed’ is latest of memorable faceoffs to draw audiences
LOS ANGELES – Ladies, ladies, please! We don’t have to tear each other apart in the name of love or jealousy or territory or fame.
But when we do, people will watch – as they did two weeks ago, when the thriller “Obsessed” scratched and clawed its way to the top of the box office.
The movie, which features Beyoncé Knowles as a wife whose marriage is threatened by another woman (Ali Larter), is propelled by a furniture-smashing catfight between the two sexy stars.
So what is it about the catfight that’s so irresistible? Maybe it’s all that animalistic physical contact – the slapping and grappling, the hair pulling and body slamming – which is so passionate, it seems to hold the promise that the women involved just might end up kissing afterward.
It’s a long and not-so-proud pop culture tradition. Some choice examples:
• Linda Evans vs. Joan Collins on “Dynasty”: Pretty much the gold standard for shlock – the defining guilty-pleasure moment in a series notorious for them. You know the back story: Krystle (Evans) is wealthy Blake Carrington’s wife, Alexis (Collins) is his vicious ex. Lots of girly pushing and splashing in the lily pond until Krystle starts repeatedly punching Alexis in the face. Thankfully, the shoulder pads on their dresses can be used as flotation devices.
• Denise Richards vs. Neve Campbell in “Wild Things”: This is, like, the ultimate male fantasy because it truly is a hair-yanking, swimming-pool catfight that evolves into a make-out session. The naughty rich girl (Richards) and the naughty poor girl (Campbell) smack each other – hard – but their sapphic tendencies, and their joint interest in framing Matt Dillon for rape, bring them together.
• Sigourney Weaver vs. the Alien Queen in “Aliens”: Such a famous movie moment, they even turned it into a DirecTV commercial. Weaver climbs inside a big, clunky, metal loader to take on the mama alien whose sweet little hatchlings have been causing so much carnage. The line she growls at the start – “Get away from her, you bitch!” – is a classic.
• Michelle Yeoh vs. Zhang Ziyi in “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”: OK, so maybe this doesn’t qualify as a catfight in the traditional sense. As part of a film that won four Academy Awards, including the foreign-language award, it’s too classy, too artsy, too elegant. But it does feature two gorgeous women trying to destroy each other, albeit with exquisite choreography.
• Shirley MacLaine vs. Anne Bancroft in “The Turning Point”: Two veteran actresses square off as former friends and ballerinas in this 1977 drama. MacLaine’s Deedee, who gave up her career to have a family, is the mother of Emelia, a promising young dancer herself. Bancroft’s Emma is a fading star who latches onto Emelia and lives vicariously through the girl’s fresh success. Years of resentments explode when the two women go at it in front of the theater on Emelia’s opening night.
• Lois Griffin vs. Gloria Ironbox on “Family Guy”: Lois feels threatened when ultra-PC sensitivity trainer Gloria (voiced by Candice Bergen) taps into Peter’s previously undiscovered sensitive side. But she turns violent when Gloria condescendingly questions her choice to be a stay-at-home mom. The ensuing fight is so hot, it snaps Peter back into his horny, doltish self.
• Miley Cyrus vs. Tyra Banks in “Hannah Montana: The Movie”: Not quite a classic, but curiously it does reflect the depths to which these multimedia multimillionaires will stoop to get a laugh. The cause of their catfight? Shoes, of course – a pair both women want, and there’s only one left in the store in their size. Because shoes are the only thing in a woman’s life worth fighting for.
• Kate Hudson vs. Anne Hathaway in “Bride Wars”: Not exactly a classic either, but blissfully it signals the climax of this shrill comedy about best friends who plan their dream weddings at the same place on the same day. A screechy frenzy of hair and veils and silk. But naturally, Hudson and Hathaway’s characters find a way to hug and make up for a forced, feel-good ending.
• Melissa Gilbert vs. Alison Arngrim on “Little House on the Prairie”: This one had been percolating for a long time. Their hatred finally boils over when that mean old Nellie (Arngrim) misleads Laura (Gilbert) about the content of a history test. Half-Pint lets her have it, dragging her into the mud and smothering her prissy white bonnet in dirt. But hunky Almanzo rides up in his carriage just in time to pull the girls apart and restore peace in Walnut Grove.