A Woman’s View
How Hollywood Spoke to Women, 1930–1960
Sales Date: 1995-06-23
542 Pages, 6.12 x 9.25 in
A lively portrayal of Hollywood's contradictory message of conformity and riotous freedom in films about women's lives and loves.
In this highly readable and entertaining book, Jeanine Basinger shows how the "woman's film" of the 30s, 40s, and 50s sent a potent mixed message to millions of female moviegoers. At the same time that such films exhorted women to stick to their "proper" realm of men, marriage, and motherhood, they portrayed — usually with relish — strong women playing out liberating fantasies of power, romance, sexuality, luxury, even wickedness.
Never mind that the celluloid personas of Bette Davis, Myrna Loy, Katharine Hepburn, Joan Crawford, or Rita Hayworth see their folly and return to their man or lament his loss in the last five minutes of the picture; for the first eighty-five minutes the audience watched as these characters "wore great clothes, sat on great furniture, loved bad men, had lots of sex, told the world off for restricting them, even gave their children away."
Basinger examines dozens of films — whether melodrama, screwball comedy, musical, film noir, western, or biopic — to make a persuasive case that the woman's film was a rich, complicated, and subversive genre that recognized and addressed, if covertly, the problems of women.
I. The Woman Herself
2. Duality :"My God! There's Two of Her"
3. Fashion and Glamour
4. The Stars Who Play Her
5. Ways of Seeing Her
6. The Woman's World
10. The Woman in the Man's World
11. Proof: Kitty and Angie and Janet
12. Appendix: Women at the Box Office
Binder, Wolfgang/American Contradictions
"Witty, spirited, [and] satisfyingly comprehensive . . . A Woman's View is bright, lively, jargon-free, densely argued, never ponderous . . . Basinger knows how to nail what she's going after."~Boston Globe
""A book about the 'woman's film,' and written in clear, intelligible prose, is almost as alluring as the best of the films themselves . . . a book with fascinating detail that stays readable to the end.""~Cineaste
""An intelligent, thought-provoking look at a genre too often dismissed as either sheer trash or simply another cultural instrument of female oppression. Basinger possesses—and conveys—a lively appreciation for the complexities of popular culture.""~Washington Post Book World
""Witty, spirited, [and] satisfyingly comprehensive . . . A Woman's View is bright, lively, jargon-free, densely argued, never ponderous . . . Basinger knows how to nail what she's going after.""~Boston Globe
""Ms. Basinger analyzes Hollywood's view with affectionate wit and verve . . . Her book is a timely reminder that female rebellion didn't start with Thelma and Louise.""~New York Times Book Review