Although Hollywood, prior to second wave feminism, did have a wide selection of female stars; in my opinion the majority of female roles were downright shameful-starring misogyny as you’ve never seen before! I’ve compiled a list of a few of the stand-out YOU ARE GREAT female characters in a few of my favourite pre-1965ish films.
FACT: unfortunately, not one of these is directed by females.
The Third Man-dir Carol Reed (1949)
I wouldn’t say this is exactly the most female fuelled film around, but it’s included due to the fact it’s 1) great 2) about an investigation of a dead (orrrr is he?) criminal (!!) and 3) because of the BRILLIANT ending scene in which Alida Vali (great name huh) rejects Joesph Cotton by walking past him as though he doesn’t exist. Sassssssssy.
Gigi-dir Vincente Minnelli (1953)
Ah. One of my all-time favourite films. Surrounded by those with the typical opinion of marital necessity, Leslie Caron stars as Gigi, a wonderful, youthful and facetious young girl and her transition to womannnnnhood (hell yeah). There are some brilliant characters-many female-many strong and amusing, as well as beautiful music and a great storyline. I STRONGLY RECOMMEND you to watch this. Set in Paris-Gigi, film and character, is marvellous. (Don’t be put off by the creepy old guy at the beginning singing about how much he loves young girls-similarly by Gigi’s uncle like figure declaring his love for her. *No Paedophilia intended*)
High Society-dir Charles Walters (1956)
If you haven’t watched this film; I don’t really want to know you until you do. Louis Armstrong. BAM. Grace Kelly. BAM. Bing Crosby. BAM. Frank Sinatra. BAM. Have you watched it yet?????? Ok, no, seriously, High Society is truly truly great. You’ve got all sorts of plot going down; all sorts of romances, dances, alcohol, music, wealth and a bit of midnight swimming thrown in. It’s a swell party, I can tell you that. (Pun very much intended). Grace Kelly’s character is extraordinary. PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD GO WATCH IT AND SEE!!!
The Inn Of The Sixth Happiness-dir Mark Robson (1958)
As Ingrid Bergman so wonderfully announces in this (ever charmingly terrible) trailer, ‘The Inn of The Sixth Happiness’ is the “true story of Gladys Aylward.” It’s an incredible film-despite the terrible casting (a BRIT playing an ASIAN man, for example. Hmmmm.). Aylward is determined to live in China and after being refused missionary work, she sets about making money for herself (woo hooo). Eventually she moves to a small village (Wangcheng), before going and changing up laws about foot binding and then rescuing one hundred children when attacked by the Japanese!! WHAT A WOMAN!! Successful and independent; she is a brilliant and truthful role model. I admire the work she did and this film captures her compassion and amazing story perfectly!
Breakfast at Tiffany’s-dir Blake Edwards (1961)
Based on Truman Capote’s novel, Breakfast at Tiffany’s is such. a. good. film. Audrey Hepburn is an absolute gem and her character-the infamous Holly Golightly-makes me want to live in New York, steal masks, have parties, own a tabby cat and have breakfast outside Tiffany’s. She is bold and free spirited whilst being vulnerable and relatable-pretty much the most loved and daring character around. Plus her hat collection is astounding.
Categories: Feminist Criticism