By Jeanine Basinger
During this hugely readable and enjoyable booklet, Jeanine Basinger indicates how the "woman's movie" of the 30s, 40s, and 50s despatched a powerful combined message to hundreds of thousands of woman moviegoers. whilst that such movies exhorted ladies to stay to their "proper" realm of guys, marriage, and motherhood, they portrayed -- often with appreciate -- robust ladies enjoying out releasing fantasies of strength, romance, sexuality, luxurious, even wickedness.Never brain that the celluloid personas of Bette Davis, Myrna Loy, Katharine Hepburn, Joan Crawford, or Rita Hayworth see their folly and go back to their guy or lament his loss within the final 5 mins of the image; for the 1st eighty-five mins the viewers watched as those characters "wore nice outfits, sat on nice furnishings, enjoyed undesirable males, had plenty of intercourse, instructed the realm off for proscribing them, even gave their childrens away." Basinger examines dozens of movies -- even if melodrama, screwball comedy, musical, movie noir, western, or biopic -- to make a persuasive case that the woman's movie used to be a wealthy, complex, and subversive style that famous and addressed, if covertly, the issues of girls.
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Extra info for A Woman's View: How Hollywood Spoke to Women, 1930-1960 (1993, 1995)
The men in both cases are slyly disguised forms of liberation, and women in the audience who had married to get out of difficult home situations no doubt identified strongly with the concept. These two films do not follow a format in which a weak man has to be rejected by a strong woman. Instead, they are truly conventional movies in which men are portrayed as foolish but lovable (Mrs. Parkington), and having to fight wars where they will die and leave the woman alone in life (White Cliffs). In both films, the women represent vigor and energy.
There are all those subtle nuances of behavior . . those sudden character changes and repentances . . those whores who are really mothers, and mothers who are really whores . . those nuns who put on lipstick when left alone in their cells . . and all those tomboys and doctors and scientists who fit no easy category. Most of the writing and thinking done on the subject of the image of women in movies has logically concerned itself with the considerable stereotyping of the woman's role that the screen has presented or with the unacceptable victimizing of women that occurs with such appalling regularity.
Suddenly, they are "extra" women, prey to smarmy husbands of friends who try to instigate affairs (in Stanwyck's case) or to cruelly gossip (in Wyman's case). The social world is organized around couples, and Women of good manners and respectable breeding aren't supposed to go places alone. They become trapped in their beautiful, elegant homes. Stanwyck's mother does not approve of her having dates, and Wyman's children smugly believe that her job is to sit home by the fire and be Mother rather than a sexual partner for someone or a person with her own interests.
A Woman's View: How Hollywood Spoke to Women, 1930-1960 (1993, 1995) by Jeanine Basinger