The Andromeda Strain (1971) is adapted from a Michael Crichton novel, and worth watching for Kate Reid alone. Her character of Dr. Ruth Leavitt is flipping amazing, and pretty much my number one movie scientist idol.
In the ordinary way of things, movie scientists are men. IF a woman happens to be a film scientist, the rules are that she should be young, slim and beautiful. She might occasionally don a pair of spectacles if she needs to appear particularly clever at any point, but for the rest of the movie she’ll look like a supermodel in a lab coat. It’s always been the way, and sadly still is.
What is absolutely tops about Dr Ruth is that she is a REAL person. And this way back in 1971! She has a terribly frumpy hairdo, doesn’t wear make-up, doesn’t even seem to be wearing a proper bra, has crumpled, baggy clothing and an untucked shirt, smokes, coughs, takes pills, uses her loud nasal voice to deliver withering sarcastic comments to all and sundry, and then basically saves the world with her scientific brilliance. SHE RULES SO MUCH.
She also definitely deserves her own place in the list of the coolest glasses ever seen in the movies.
Style-wise, there are loads of fun conspiracy/sci-fi visual elements to the film. I was buzzing over the brilliant pieces of signage and computer graphics. Top Secret! Authorised Access Only! Classified! Etc etc. (note to self: include more files marked ‘Top Secret’ in life).
Also great fun were the coloured jumpsuits the scientists have to change into on each level of the Top Secret Underground Conspiratorial Government Facility – who doesn’t want their clothing to match the walls? Those secret government conspirators have got it going ON. If all that wasn’t enough, the White House ‘Situation Room’ is full of 70s wood veneer panelling, huge maps, TVs set into the wall, and colour coded phones. I sort of want to live in it (second note to self: make sure next home has space for a secret map room).
The film itself is a good solid race-against-time sci-fi disaster flick, though it does start to sag towards the end. Well, you can only make a group of scientists looking through microscopes interesting for so long. That said, it is well worth a watch, even if only for the amazing Dr Ruth.
I just included this pic because I love the dude smoking his pipe in the background.