Carrie Fisher wrote These Old Broads (along with Elaine Pope) in 2001 as a TV movie for her mother. Fisher then told The New York Times,
“Everyone keeps saying how autobiographical this film is, but it’s really more of a farce.”
With insider knowledge that only Hollywood royalty is privey to. Fisher’s mother, Debbie Reynolds stars — along with Shirley Maclaine, Joan Collins, AND Elizabeth Taylor, in her very last screen role. The film is about three screen fading legends who reunite after 40 years (with some help from their agent, played by Taylor) for a live stage performance of songs from Boy Crazy, the musical that made them stars.
It certainly is autobiographical. In the film’s funniest and most poignant scene, Piper Grayson (Reynolds) and her agent Beryl Mason (Taylor) settle an old score over their old flame, Freddy, whom Beryl stole from Piper. (This is a VERY thinly veiled reference to Taylor stealing Eddie Fisher away from Reynolds in the 50s.)
Now Freddy is long forgotten and the two figure it’s worth burying the hatchet by bad-mouthing the guy, whom Beryl only picked up after a week-long bender…
“I was with Freddy because I was in a blackout! What’s your excuse?”
“He gave me a red convertible, and my mother told me to. She thought he was Italian.”
“You do everything your mother tells you to?” Beryl asks.
“Less, now that she’s dead.”
The scene is laden with irony, not just because of the actresses’ history but also because Fisher wrote it, having her mother and her stepmother come to some kind of understanding in full view of the public. In a New York Times feature published before the release described Taylor’s contribution to this scene as wholehearted;
“Ms. Taylor also had some script suggestions. In an obvious reference to Eddie Fisher, Ms. Taylor’s character tells Ms. Reynolds’s character how much she regrets stealing her husband 40 years ago. ”Liz told Carrie to write that scene because she said I deserved to have that after all these years,” Ms. Reynolds says. ‘She kept saying, ‘Have her really tell me off and make it meaner –it’s not funny enough.’”
Fisher also slipped in a joke about a woman who had liposuction and
“within a few months she looked like Jabba the Hut” — the character who famously imprisoned Princess Leia, played by Fisher, in Return of the Jedi. Fisher hated the scene and the gold bikini she had to wear in it, and gets a tiny bit of revenge by having Collins describe Jabba as “a sea slug from outer space.”
Fisher also has a cameo in the film as a hooker when the women are hauled into jail.
The film ends with a number called What a Life. You can say that about all of these women.
Watch. You can see the whole film now on Amazon Prime.