It's not that I didn't or don't like women. I will admit that as a child I trusted only a few of them. Women always seemed to be plotting against each other or someone else. They weren't all sweet and kind and giving like my mother.
I'm speaking of women in movies, of course. It took until high school for me to love any woman in a movie besides Sophia Loren in Houseboat. Then I began to really enjoy Myrna Loy, Irene Dunne, and Katharine Hepburn, except not with Tracy. I didn't like how she was with him until I saw them together in The Desk Set. Which I loved, and love.
My 10 favorite leading ladies, roughly in order:
11 more actresses I always enjoy, in no particular order:
You can see this is largely informed by the genres of movies I prefer. I don't go very deep or very heavy most of the time.
I've grown to like two or three Bette Davis things, though I wish Claudette Colbert had been able to play the part originally written for her, in All About Eve. I like Barbara Stanwyck in a couple things, but it's more that I like a couple movies she's in and again, might have liked them more if cast differently. Ball of Fire was always one of my favorite movies, but I can't want her in it for Gary Cooper. She's good, of course, just—not quite right, to me. I like her better with Cooper in Meet John Doe, same thing only different.
And I love the movie The Women, but not specifically because I love many of the women in it. It's just a great film overall. My favorites in that movie, though, are Paulette Goddard, Marjorie Main, and Mary Boland. And as I grow older, I more fully appreciate Rosalind Russell's portrayal of her wonderfully awful character.
I know some people who don't like Jean Arthur or Judy Holliday as much as I do because they used such shrill voices sometimes. Last night I was watching Born Yesterday and thinking about how carefully Holliday used hers. There are a lot of nuances to her pitch that she crafted for that character. It's really quite brilliant and incredibly endearing. But even though it's her movie, and she's simply wonderful in it, I'll admit I'm always drawn to watch it to see William Holden wearing glasses and reciting literature.