Hollywood Heroines: Women in Film Noir and the Female Gothic Film

By Helen Hanson

The endangered and hazardous lady figures of Rebecca, of Jagged Edge and What Lies Beneath have a deserved and enduring fascination. Helen Hanson re-examines those gothic heroines of Hollywood and their meanings, in of Hollywood's key popular cycles, movie noir and the feminine gothic film. Starting in the beginning, with the beginning of those cycles and the ways that they represented girls within the American movie and tradition of the Nineteen Forties, she strains their revival in neo-noir and neo-gothic motion pictures from the Eighties to the present.  She additionally areas the feminine figures of the femme fatale, woman investigator and gothic heroine in the moving contexts of the movie and debates in feminist movie criticism.  Hanson examines quite a lot of motion pictures from either sessions, together with Suspicion, Gaslight and Pacific Heights, and offers specific awareness to their presentation of girl tales, activities and perspectives. She unearths a variety of girl figures, representations and activities in movie noir and the feminine gothic movie, and argues that those ladies are a part of a negotiation of woman identities, wishes and roles throughout an extended old period. Hollywood Heroines deals us new methods of considering vintage and modern Hollywood heroines, and in regards to the interrelationships of gender and genre.

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As Yvonne Tasker and Diane Negra argue, the post-feminist context deals either new offerings and new ambivalences for the meanings of feminism. the crowd of flicks tested during this bankruptcy, and the feminine figures on the centre of them, can be found inside of this post-feminist ambivalence and ‘double address’. The neo-gothic movies are female-addressed suspense thrillers similar to napping with the Enemy (Joseph Rubin, united states, 1991), Deceived (Damian Harris, united states, 1991) and What Lies underneath (Robert Zemeckis, united states, 2000), that are the primary concentration of my dialogue. however the staff extends outwards to surround titles akin to Jagged side (Richard Marquand, united states, 1985), a neo-noir/neo-gothic hybrid, The Stepfather (Joseph Ruben, 1987), Stepfather II (Jeff Burr, 1989), Pacific Heights (John Schlesinger, united states, 1990), useless back (Kenneth Branagh, united states, 1991), The Others (Alejandro Amenabar, 2001) and adequate (Michael Apted, 2002). those movies characteristic a primary girl protagonist, positioned in a household setting and in an unsatisfied or dysfunctional heterosexual courting. whilst he starts off to behave surprisingly, or threateningly, the heroine starts off to suspect that her husband or lover has a bad mystery on the subject of a lady in his prior, and as she attempts to discover that mystery, usually via getting to know a mystery room, she starts off to worry that he's attempting to kill her. a hundred seventy five 06c Hollywood_ch 6_173-198 26/6/07 12:32 PM web page 176 Hollywood Heroines The neo-gothic motion pictures are concurrently ‘old’ and ‘new’. They use literary and filmic gothic modes as relevant reference issues, they're organised round what Claire Kahane identifies because the normal literary gothic plot constitution. those comprise the gothic condo, ‘an imprisoning structure’,7 a feminine protagonist, and her compulsion to ‘seek out the guts of a mystery’8 whereas she is subjected to threats from a ‘powerful male figure’,9 all parts, Kahane argues, which have been non-stop threads within the gothic cloth because the past due eighteenth century. those movies even have narrative and stylistic similarities to the feminine gothic cycle of the Nineteen Forties, mentioned in previous chapters of this booklet: motion pictures corresponding to Rebecca (Alfred Hitchcock, 1940), Suspicion (Alfred Hitchcock, 1941), Shadow of a Doubt (Alfred Hitchcock, 1943), darkish Waters (André de Toth, 1944), test Perilous (Jaques Tourneur, 1944), Jane Eyre (Robert Stevenson, 1944), Gaslight (George Cukor, 1944), Dragonwyck (Joseph Mankiewicz, 1946), the 2 Mrs Carrolls (Peter Godfrey, 1947), The Spiral Staircase (Robert Siodmak, 1946), mystery past the Door (Fritz Lang, 1948), stuck (Max Ophuls, 1949) and lower than Capricorn (Alfred Hitchcock, 1949). The neo-gothic movies’ allusions to narrative and stylistic components universal within the Forties lady gothic cycle recommend the ongoing forex of the gothic mode as a reference aspect. Hitchcock’s Forties movies were a very recurrent reference aspect. In his research of the ‘allusionistic tendency’ in Hollywood cinema because the Seventies, Noel Carroll notes that express Hitchcock motion pictures, and ‘Hitchcockian’ topics and kinds, were a key source for modern filmmakers.

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