Feisty Female: Cathy Palmer aka Rebecca Ryan, flawlessly portrayed by JoBeth Williams
Year we got to know her: 1984
Best known for: Always catching her man, even when he’s a woman.
Why she deserves a second look:
I love this movie.
On the one hand, I love it for being a fantastic 2nd wave narrative: The Feminine Mystique played out on-screen and Hollywood-ized. Cathy Palmer starts out as the unhappily-married housewife who lives vicariously through her Rebecca Ryan novels (the female version of 007). She enters a writing contest and wins a trip to Paris, Rebecca Ryan’s HQ. She goes sight-seeing, gets her purse snatched and is hit by a car and gets a healthy dose of amnesia. Long story short, she realizes that she’s unhappy, falls in love, and becomes a writer. C’est magnifique!
On the other hand, it’s fantastically absurd! Cathy’s “amnesia” causes her to wake up in the hospital thinking that she actually is Rebecca Ryan. This alone provides enough comic fodder to last the rest of the film: she goes on a shopping spree–charged to her hotel (where the author’s son currently resides), she attends a ball and out-drinks the Russians, inadvertantly instructs a man to kill himself in German and ends up in a fountain, and she falls in love with “Dmitri” (brilliantly played by Tom Conti). Unbelievably, and yet predictably, she actually lands herself in the midst of a crime ring. **Spoiler alert:** she catches her man.
Do yourself a favor and check it out. If not for the 80’s fashions (and some of them are terrifyingly fabulous), then for the amusing and entertaining storyline, or for the feisty female!
The important thing, kid, is that you’re doing something you like to do.