|Heroines in Film||
|Heroines in Film||
In honor of Audrey Hepburn’s birthday, I decided to watch and review Funny Face. Funny Face follows a bookshop owner, Jo (Hepburn), on her journey of love and discovery with photographer Dick (Fred Astaire) as he takes her around Paris and turns her into a fashion model. And all this unfolds in the form of a musical. Initially, Jo was resistant to becoming a model for Kay Thompson’s Maggie Prescott; however, Dick manages to smooth talk his way into convincing her to take a chance and believe in him. On the promise that she would get to meet her philosophical idol in Paris, she agreed to go.
In Honor of May the 4th, along with my usual post for Audrey Hepburn’s birthday, my friend suggested that I do a post in honor of Carrie Fisher. Despite this being Star Wars Day, tackling the Star Wars franchise would be a task that requires far more time than one post. Because of this, I’ve opted to go with a perhaps lesser known film of Carrie Fisher’s, The ‘Burbs.
The ‘Burbs is a film starring Tom Hanks as it’s leading man Ray Peterson, trying to have a relaxing week off from work that turns into a mission to figure out what’s going on with his creepy new neighbors who never appear to leave the house.
In honor of what would have been Audrey Hepburn’s 87th birthday, I decided to watch one of her earliest films: Sabrina. A classic love story complete with a love triangle, elegant gowns, and Paris, Sabrina does not disappoint.
The film follows a chauffeur’s daughter, Sabrina, as she navigates her feelings for the two brothers whose family estate she grew up on. Sabrina has had a crush on David, played by William Holden, since she was a little girl, however it is his older brother Linus who she falls for in the end. If the actors and film weren’t so charming the story could have easily been beaten out by it’s cliché nature, however as it was filmed in the 50s I feel we can pardon any clichés as well as applaud them for their creative spin on how they handled the love triangle. Sabrina wasn’t your run of the mill boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back sort of film.
Although the movie has been colorized, I actually watched it in black and white. The costumes were just as stunning in black and white, if not more elegant, than I’m sure they would have been in color. What I appreciated about the costumes most was how they not only reflected each character as they were in that stage of their life, allowing us to visually see Sabrina’s evolution, but they are not overly sexualized. They are expressive but not objectifying which is something many films today fail to accomplish. If anything, I’d say this is an area in films where we have actually suffered in as time has gone on. But besides the costumes, by watching it in black and white I wasn’t overly consumed in anything flashy which allowed me to really focus on the story and everything that was being portrayed.
To start out, I noticed that Sabrina does pass the Bechdel Test. There are two instances in particular that helped do this. The first was when David was dancing with his fiancé, Elizabeth. As soon as he caught sight of Sabrina, he bumped Elizabeth into the couple behind them, causing their champagne to spill on her dress. When this happened, Elizabeth and her friend had a brief exchange where her friend told her she would go help her clean off her dress. The next exchange is between David and Linus’ mother, Mrs. Larrabee, and Sabrina herself. Sabrina has just returned from culinary school in Paris and so Mrs. Larrabee invites her over for dinner so she can see what Sabrina has learned. These two scenes make Sabrina pass the Bechdel Test. I have to admit, I was rather surprised that it did pass. Due to the nature of the film being that women besides Sabrina are not prominently featured in a significant manner and the time period it was made in, I didn’t have high expectations for it passing the Bechdel Test in such blatant ways. And I must say I have never been happier to be proven wrong.
Dirty Dancing is perhaps one of the most iconic movies ever. There are too many photos to count of that iconic lift. The plot is focused around Frances “Baby” Houseman, played by Jennifer Grey, and Johnny Castle, played by Patrick Swayze. Johnny is a dance instructor at a summer resort in the Catskills, where Baby is vacationing with her family. Throughout the film, we not only get to watch their relationship develop from strangers to something deeper, but we also get to see the personal evolution of Baby as a young woman.
One of the first things that stuck out to us about Baby was a comment she made in narration.
That was the summer of 1963 - when everybody called me Baby, and it didn't occur to me to mind."
We really liked how right off the bat she was questioning how derogatory or demeaning calling someone “Baby” can be. This comment also helped set the tone for how to look at Baby. She was a young woman who was still learning how the world worked and had a lot of life left to experience. We like Baby as a character. We particularly like how she didn’t just act like a naive little girl the entire time. She was curious and though eager to please, she grew to be independent. By the end of the film, she wasn’t just Daddy’s little girl anymore.
In honor of the holidays, we’ve decided to watch A Miracle on 34th Street as our next review. It’s one of the most classic holiday films there is, and it isn’t hard to see why it’s withstood the test of time. Preserved in black and white, there’s no better way to get in the Christmas spirit.
A Miracle on 34th Street follows Kris Kringle on his journey to proving that he is indeed the one and only Santa Claus. With the help of Doris Walker, her daughter Susie, and their neighbor Fred Gailey, Kris wins his case.
As much as we’d love to go on about how Jolly of a Santa Edmund Gwenn makes, that wouldn’t exactly serve the purpose of our blog. Besides, both Ms. Walker and her daughter Susie play a very important role in Kris Kringle’s journey. In fact Kris even calls them his experiment, for if he can make them believe he’s Santa Claus, then just maybe all hope in Christmas is not lost.
Double Indemnity is a classic film noir, with suspense and murder. Released in 1944 it stars Fred MacMurray as our main protagonist, Barbara Stanwyck as the femme fatale, and Edward G Robinson as the claim adjustor who untangles the murder. This film portrays women in a very strange and twisted way, as Phyllis is the sinful and murderous main female character and Lola is the helpless, lost, and heartbroken young girl.
This movie does not pass the Bechdel Test. It does feature two female characters, Lola and Phyllis, that do briefly speak to one another. However, the conversation also includes Mr. Dietrichson and is about Lola’s boyfriend Nino. There is a notable lack of female characters in the movie-- especially in the scenes showing the insurance company. This is because in the 1940’s women would not have worked in an office except perhaps as a secretary.
The contradiction and strange part of this movie is that Phyllis definitely shows women in a negative light. She is murderous, manipulative and an evil person all around. However, that is the point of the movie and we have decided to investigate if Phyllis’ evil nature is shown in a sexist way. She also needs to be compared to Neff, because he is also a murderous character.
At the beginning of the movie we see Neff confessing to a murder on a dictaphone. Then we are transported back in time to when Neff first meets Phyllis. It is a normal insurance call until appears at the top of the stairs.
She is the seductive temptress in nothing but a towel. She comes down the stairs and immediately flirts with Neff. The camera angle is also to be noted because they very clearly make the choice to do a close up on her feet and calves walking down the stairs, yet another sexual frame. What we thought was interesting is that being seductive and flirty is associated with an evil and manipulative nature. Clearly cheating on your husband is bad, but this movie ties female sexuality with moral degradation. The way she dresses and her hairstyle is supposed to signify her fake personality and loose sexuality. This is very upsetting in many ways because Phyllis’ character is nothing more than her body, looks and manipulative ways.
Warning!! SPOILERS ahead!!
Pleasantville is not only one of the most visually pleasing films we’ve watched thus far, but it is also incredibly well written. It is a well thought out social commentary. The character growth in this film is very important too, which is perfect for the purposes of this blog. With an incredible script, great direction, and phenomenal actors, there is a lot to be said about Pleasantville.
Pleasantville begins in the 1990’s. The two main character are David and Jennifer. They are siblings but are on opposite sides of the the high school hierarchy. Jennifer is risky, popular and sexually active, while David is awkward, dorky, and loves a 1950’s show called Pleasantville. After fighting over the remote control they end up getting sucked into the world of Pleasantville and the craziness begins.
For those who have seen There’s Something About Mary the image that will forever be stuck in your mind can be described in three words: “Franks and Beans.” With a take away like this, it’s no wonder the film is such a big part of popular culture. However, Mary is quite controversial and presents many opportunities for discussion on this blog.
Megan has a very vivid memory of her sister watching it for the first time.
“My sister was in early high school, and I was still in middle school. I sat down on the couch to watch it with her, all the way through the “franks and beans” scene and slightly beyond, when my mom came downstairs. When she saw what they were watching she immediately kicked me out of the room. My mom didn’t think it was okay I watching this movie at such a young age.”
We’ve heard similar anecdotes from other mother’s such as our senior project advisor. We’re about to leave to be full time college freshmen so we understand why Megan’s mother felt the movie was inappropriate.
Thelma and Louise is perhaps one of the most powerful films we’ve watched so far. The evolution and strength of the characters by the end is really beautiful and the ending is close to perfect. It’s no wonder this film has become so iconic with the feminist wave.
Thelma and Louise addresses many different things, but one of the most important issues it addresses is sexual violence against women. Though there is much more awareness nowadays, unfortunately this is an issue we still face today. The saddest moment is when Thelma is urging Louise to drive to the police to explain the situation and she responds by saying no one would believe them because “we don’t live in that kind of world.” Megan describes that line as the most heartbreaking in the entire film. It’s so sad that this is true, but that’s probably why it was put in the film. They wanted to address this issue and show that it’s not okay and that we need to fight back.
The parking lot scene was perhaps the most unnerving scene in the movie, but it was very necessary. The strength and vulnerability shown between the actors and characters in this scene was palpable. Seeing Thelma taken advantage of was completely unnerving. Not only is it completely disrespectful, but she was drunk and clearly didn’t have her wits fully about her. It was terrifying to watch. When Louise showed up, we breathed a sigh of relief. She was clearly scared, but her strength was inspiring and said a lot about her as a character.