Monday, October 26, 2009

Complicated Women: Sex and Power in Pre-Code Hollywood

I'm just back from the library and here's a teaser of things to come, the introduction to what I'm sure will be one of my favourite reads this year, Complicated Women: Sex and Power in Pre-Code Hollywood by Mick LaSalle.

"The best era for women on screen was not the forties, as has been commonly assumed. The best era had nothing to do with ladies with big shoulder pads and bad hairdoes watching their boyfriends light two cigarettes at the same time. It had nothing to do with women apologizing for their strength in the last ten minutes of every film. It had nothing to do with weeping and constant sacrifice and misery.
Those movies may be enjoyable. We may like those movies. But they don't represent the best in women's pictures.
The best era for women's pictures was the pre-Code era, the five years between the point that talkies became widely accepted in 1929 through July 1934, when the dread and draconian Production Code became the law in Hollywoodland. Before the Code, women on screen took lovers, had babies out of wedlock, got rid of cheating husbands, enjoyed their sexuality, held down professional positions without apologizing for their self-sufficiency, and in general acted the way many of us think women only acted after 1968.
They had fun. Tha's why the Code came in. Yes, to a large degree the Code came in to prevent women from having fun. It was designed to put the genie back in the bottle - and the wife back in the kitchen."

And that's when you know you've found a kindred spirit. I have a class today and I have a translation to finish but I can't wait to read the entire book!