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A Woman's View: How Hollywood Spoke to Women, 1930-1960 [Paperback]

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Item description for A Woman's View: How Hollywood Spoke to Women, 1930-1960 by Jeanine Basinger...

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.

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Item Specifications...

Format: Large Print
Studio: Wesleyan
Pages   542
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1.75" Width: 6.25" Height: 9.25"
Weight:   1.7 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   May 31, 1995
Publisher   Wesleyan
ISBN  0819562912  
ISBN13  9780819562913  

Availability  2 units.
Availability accurate as of Oct 21, 2016 11:05.
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More About Jeanine Basinger

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Jeanine Basinger is the chair of film studies at Wesleyan University and the curator of the cinema archives there. She has written nine other books on film, including "A Woman s View: How Hollywood Spoke to Women, 1930 1960"; "Silent Stars," winner of the William K. Everson Film History Award; "Anthony Mann"; "The" "World War II Combat Film: Anatomy of a Genre"; and "American Cinema: One Hundred Years of Filmmaking," the companion book for a ten-part PBS series."

Jeanine Basinger currently resides in Middleton, in the state of Connecticut.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Arts & Photography > Performing Arts
2Books > Subjects > Entertainment > Movies > General
3Books > Subjects > Entertainment > Movies > History & Criticism
4Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Movie Tie-Ins
5Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Womens Studies > General
6Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Womens Studies
7Books > Subjects > Reference > Foreign Languages > General
8Books > Subjects > Reference > Foreign Languages

Reviews - What do customers think about A Woman's View: How Hollywood Spoke to Women, 1930-1960?

Any Book That Will Quote A Cleo Moore Film Deserves 5 Stars  Sep 11, 2005
This is one of the most enjoyable "film studies" I have ever come across, essentially about "soap opera" 'women's pictures' of the 1930's and 1940's but expanding into the 1920's and 1950's a bit and touching on other types of films and the great women stars from this time period. From Kay Francis (who is the cover girl and Basinger's main muse for this tome) to Rita Hayworth, this is a wonderful book for any one obssessed with films from the era, it's like finding a new best friend to talk about these classic films. Basinger writes informatively yet in plain academic-free language making the book a pleasuer to read - and she knows when to crack wise and when to be serious, no mean feat. It's a skill a lot of "movie historians" don't have.
One of my all time favorite books  Apr 5, 2005
If you love movies you must read Ms. Basinger's marvelous study of "women's pictures" which encompasses the stars that acted in them, the directors that guided them, the writers that gave them life and the studios that distributed them. Hollywood history, women's history, art history all rolled into one readable and thought provoking volume. This one is right up there with Louise Brooks by Barry Paris as one of the best books on film and those who created it.
Basinger's "A Woman's View" is a Great History Read  Dec 2, 2004
A Woman's View, by Jeanne Basinger, was rightfully the most interesting history based book I have ever read. Although it can be lengthy at times, it touches on subjects in which I had barely any knowledge of, and shows how it was reflecting the time period of the 30's, 40's, 50's, and 60's. Seeing as though this was about women right after the women's rights movement in the 20's, this book shows how Hollywood used female movie stars to incorporate the countries opinions on them. With that, I thought the introduction chapter on the genre of these types of movies was absolutely spectacular. It really made me have so much respect for women during these time periods. They had such class and such morals, which, sad to say, is starting to slowly fade away, or can at least be argued that it is.
A few of the sections of this book that I thought was the most interesting, were the ones about twin women in movies and the fashion and glamour of women. Before reading this book, I never really thought into the idea that being a woman in Hollywood, and acting a certain role represented something as a whole. These actresses were not just playing the part of their assigned character; they were representing women as a whole. With their fashion, their speech, and their actions, I found it truly inspiring to know that they were stepping out of their comfort zone and taking risks with the roles that they chose to act out.
One chapter, entitled Duality, included how Hollywood used twins in their movies to represent one specific point in these movies. This chapter, being one of the more detailed ones, showed how twins portrayed particularly two things: the good and the bad. The good twin, usually dressed in fashionably acceptable clothes and appropriate styles, was usually criticized by her twin, which represented evil, or the bad. I thought it was very much a shock to me how many of the so called "bad" twins in these Hollywood movies were constantly pretending to be their twin to confuse their family, friends, or even their husbands! Many of them did this only to find some sort of revenge on their twin for whatever reason they could think of. In my mind, I would have never thought of this as being presented in movies during these time periods, but I also have to remember that this was also a time when women were really standing up for what they believed in and stepping out of the ordinary molds they had always been put into.
What was so fascinating about this book was how Basinger found a way to represent women in film in such a respectable way, and not so much trashy as some may have viewed it at the time. Women like Loretta Young, Kay Francis, and Greta Garbo are true heroines when it comes to paving the way for all future actresses, and also for open our countries eyes to the lives of women, and really shows that they were becoming less and less like housewives and more like the hardworking entrepreneurs that they really were and always will be.
Now I know why I enjoy this type of film so much.  Sep 15, 1998
This book articulates for me why I have always loved this genre of film. The author highlights the work of many fine actresses of the period whose work is overlooked in many film books. Although the ideas they espoused may be dated, the desire of women to see the concerns of their private lives played out on screen still exists. I believe that the next century may bring a resurgurce of this type of film.
When Women Ruled the Screen  May 1, 1998
Jeanine Basinger is to be congratulated for shedding light on a too-little studied aspect of Hollywood history. She puts the movies and the stars she discusses in the context of how movie-going women perceived them at the time. In doing so, she concentrates not on the "greatest" stars, but rather on secondary figures like Kay Francis, Ann Dvorak, and Loretta Young, women who had (sometimes surprisingly) immense popular appeal while they were making movies but whose careers either faded, made the transition to character rather than leading-lady status, or moved to television. She reminds us that the "woman's picture" was far more than the drama of suffering and renunciation (like "Now, Voyager", "Back Street", or "Autumn Leaves") we most commonly think of today. She broadens her definition to include virtually any film that either focused on a woman as its central character or concerned itself with traditionally "women's" concerns.

What she makes clear is that, despite the pronounced limitations of the world view of the woman's picture, it represented a varied and vigorous film culture in which (as she writes) "on the screen ... the woman will decide. She is important. She matters. She is the Center of the Universe."

"A Woman's View" is that rare thing -- a scholarly examination of mostly obscure figures and works that is at the same time an excellent and entertaining read.


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