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Classic HollywoodLifestyles and Film Styles of American Cinema, 1930-1960$
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Veronica Pravadelli

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780252038778

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252038778.001.0001

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date: 21 October 2019

(Dis)Adventures of Female Desire in the 1940s Woman’s Film

(Dis)Adventures of Female Desire in the 1940s Woman’s Film

Chapter:
(p.99) 4 (Dis)Adventures of Female Desire in the 1940s Woman’s Film
Source:
Classic Hollywood
Author(s):

Veronica Pravadelli

Publisher:
University of Illinois Press
DOI:10.5406/illinois/9780252038778.003.0005

This chapter studies noir's twin genre, the woman's film. While this genre's formal politics are quite similar to noir's, its focus on female identity entails a representation of female desire. The woman's film is the site of contradictory and antithetical functions: its narrative is structured by twisted plots and tortuous trajectories that often split into two opposite scenarios or styles—one representing the public/male/urban space and the other the private/female/domestic space. The genre's formal convolutions correspond with the contradictory discourse on postwar femininity, namely the opposition between the need to conform to normative femininity and the relentless effort by women to find new ways of being and new forms of desire. While the genre's proximity to noir's modern concerns cannot be underestimated, its gender interests lead to an excessive focus on the female body.

Keywords:   woman's film, female identity, female desire, postwar femininity, normative femininity, female body

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