You may remember Rosanna Arquette as the dangerously voluptuous kook from Scorsese's After Hours, the not-so-straight housewife in Desperately Seeking Susan, or her brief scene with Eric Stoltz in Pulp Fiction. If not, well, you probably heard the Toto song she inspired - a Grammy winning hit in 1983.
Last year, Rosanna Arquette made a documentary film called Searching for Debra Winger. Her quest: to explore the reasons why one of the most gifted actresses of her generation should walk out of the movie business with barely a second glance. Her method: conversations with her peers, including Sharon Stone, Holly Hunter, Emmanuelle Beart, Laura Dern, Daryl Hannah, Frances McDormand, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jane Fonda, Salma Hayek, Melanie Griffith, etc etc - not to mention Debra Winger herself. The subtext: what happened to my career?
Arquette's conclusion: this business has no respect for women, especially after they hit a certain age.
Not every interviewee agreed with her thesis. Salma Hayek, for one, looks like the cat with the cream, as she purrs about how women today really can have it all. Holly Hunter talks about how at 40, she has acting chops she didn't have at 30 - and nominates Susan Sarandon, Barbara Hershey, Jessica Lange and Meryl Streep as proof that you can keep winning the fight.
Fair enough - but articulate as these women are, it's a shock to be reminded of how many fine actresses just seem to vanish from our screens. Theresa Russell, Adrienne Shelley, Alfre Woodard, Teri Garr, Ally Sheedy, Jobeth Williams, Julia Ormond - and of course, Rosanna herself, all seem to have largely disappeared from sight. And it's not just because they go off and devote themselves to their family, it's because the people (men, mostly) controlling the studios just don't think they're sexy enough.
For her part, Debra Winger seems more than content with a life outside the spotlight (although she does occasionally make movies when the spirit moves her). She remembers the producer Don Simpson coming up to her on the second day of shooting An Officer and a Gentleman and not so subtly handing her a water-retention pill. She was 23 at the time.
It's indicative of something that Arquette's movie still isn't available in the UK. But I was reminded of it hearing Halle Berry speak out against the plastic surgery epidemic which has gripped American actresses over the last two decades.
"I do think we've become obsessed with beauty and the fountain of youth, and I'm really saddened by the way women mutilate their faces today in search of that," she said.
Easy for her to say, even at 37, and it has to be said that her own career only got back on track after made the decision to sex it up, first in Swordfish, then Monster's Ball and Die Another Day. But I think she has a point. Looking at Meg Ryan, or Melanie Griffith, or Jane Fonda today, you have to wonder if those Stepford doctors are busier than ever.
Is there a solution? Only for women to take more control over their own careers and redefine the rules - although that in itself is a longshot, judging by women's magazines. Nevertheless, at least there are more women filmmakers now, and it's good to see Rosanna Arquette joining their number.