Debbie Reynolds, Carrie Fisher, and Billie Lourd: Their best movies
Empires rise and fall, but there have been a number of dynasties throughout history that have stood the test of time. There are only three that have proven themselves to be truly timeless: the Han Dynasty, ABC’s Dynasty (1981), and the Reynolds/Fisher/Lourd dynasty. It started in El Paso, Texas in 1932, when Debbie Reynolds emerged fully-formed from the womb as a singing, dancing cosmic being, much like Athena bursting forward from Zeus’s skull in the Greek myths of old.
She went on to pursue a 70-year career as a stage, television, and film star. If there was an award, then she was considered for it. Reynolds scored nominations for Golden Globes, Oscars, Emmys. In her personal life, she emerged as the classiest person in the Eddie Fisher/Elizabeth Taylor/Debbie Reynolds debacle. To top it off, she was in hands down one of the best Disney Channel original movies of all time: 1998’s Halloweentown.
She also blessed the world with Carrie Fisher, who in turn gifted the universe with Billie Lourd. It is a rare, miraculous thing for a family to produce superstar after superstar, particularly when so many of our family members keep pressuring us to buy into MLM schemes.
We would no sooner pick a favorite Debbie Reynolds movie than pick a star in the heavens (but if we did, it would be Disney Channel’s Halloweentown II: Kalabar’s Revenge). It seemed necessary to try and come up with our favorite Reynolds/Fisher/Lourd movies to watch when you need faith in humanity.
The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964)
Filmmakers have recreated the journey of the HMS Titanic so many times, but rarely have they made it fun. 1964’s The Unsinkable Molly Brown stars Debbie Reynolds in the titular role, as a bruising, brawling, nouveau riche badass who starts life as an abandoned infant in the Colorado River. Bringing it full circle, she ends the film in another body of water.
Reynolds is a ball of energy throughout the entire film, plowing head-first into the plot as she battles prospectors, society snobs, and the icy waters of the Atlantic with the same zeal and enthusiasm. This was also the film that earned her an Academy Award nomination for her portrayal of Brown.
The Blues Brothers (1980)
It’s really challenging to pick a favorite movie featuring Carrie Fisher. She would often appear for just minutes, popping in and out of the frame as a minor character. The problem is that the viewer would spend the rest of the movie waiting for her to come back.
She’s the best part of Soapdish (1991) as a demented, power-hungry TV executive, her moral quandry as the “other woman” was one of our favorite plotlines in When Harry Met Sally (1989), and she was in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery for seconds. We would watch an entire spinoff of her counseling Dr. Evil (Mike Myers) and his son Scott (Seth Green) through their painfully awkward counseling sessions.
She also was on all of our favorite television shows of the past 20 years, including Amazon’s Catastrophe and NBC’s 30 Rock. All of Fisher’s scenes in 1980’s The Blues Brothers take up less than five minutes. She is, however, carrying a flamethrower and trying to destroy John Belushi for all of them, so it’s clear that this film would be placed on the top of the list.
Billie Lourd has been popping up all over television on various Ryan Murphy properties: she and her earmuffs were a central character on Fox’s Scream Queens, and she played an emo nanny, a sad servant, and a sexually liberated aerobics instructor on FX’s American Horror Story. Obviously, she has range.
Our favorite film to date of Lourd’s just came out this year. Booksmart is a sweet, funny, coming-of-age story of two friends dealing with the end of high school and that deep-seated dread that happens when you’re about to head off on a completely different lifestyle path.
But who cares about that, because our favorite character is Gigi (Lourd).
Gigi guides Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein) throughout the course of the evening, like the ancient Roman poet Virgil who guided Dante through the different levels of Hell. In this version, however, Virgil is on Molly (not the character) and rocking a tiara.
This family gifted us with singing nuns, intergalactic space princesses, and camp counselors in 80s-style leg warmers over the years, we can only look forward to what they will share with us next.