Another major source for my research paper would be Film Noir itself. I’ve created a list of Film Noir that include some of the most remarkable films and almost each of them stands for one phase: The Maltese Falcon (1941) represents the wartime period; Double Indemnity (1944) appears as a transition between wartime and post-war realistic period; and both Sunset Boulevard (1950) and Kiss me Deadly (1955) belong to the Film Noir period, which lasted approximately from 1949 to 53. Over the weekend I watched Sunset Boulevard and found its depiction of gender issues quite appealing. Although it’s not always regarded as a typical Film Noir because there’s neither crime nor classic Femme Fatale, Sunset Boulevard still powerfully reflects the social trends in 50s. The deserted Silent Film star, Norma Desmond, seem to be dominant and manipulative in the first place. She has a steward who serves her with undivided loyalty, and later she takes control over Joe Gillis, the much younger writer. Soon things unfold. The steward was her first husband and personally sticks to his design of her as the “star”. When Joe decides to leave, Norma is almost helplessly begging him. This seemingly powerful woman actually depends on men to live and always live in the lies they create to protect her from destruction. The story of Betty Schaeffer also resonates with Feminism that is bound to fail in 50s: she tries to collaborate with Joe, a male writer, and sees herself equal to him in their careers and eventually falls in love with him after she has been engaged with another man. This unconventional pursuit of true love seems to abide as she asks Joe to leave with her. As the symbol of ultimate male dominancy, however, Joe pushes her away and suggests her to marry her boyfriend. The message here is too clear: a “powerful” old woman has to be taken care of by men and an ambitious young woman can’t escape from the ideal domesticity. The strength of films is that through the settings and characters I can have a better and more direct understanding of Film Noir by seeing how society, individuals, and especially gender roles are depicted in them. And for now I haven’t seen any weakness of this source.
Sunset Boulevard. Dir. Billy Wilder. Screenplay by Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett. Prod. Charles Brackett. Perf. William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Erich Von Stroheim, Nancy Olson. Paramount Pictures, 1950. DVD.
Kiss Me Deadly. Dir. Robert Aldrich. Prod. Robert Aldrich. Screenplay by A. I. Bezzerides. Perf. Ralph Meeker, Albert Dekker, Pail Stewart, Juano Hernandez. Parklane Pictures, 1955. DVD.
Double Indemnity. Dir. Billy Wilder. Prod. Joseph Sistrom. Screenplay by Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler. Perf. Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson, Porter Hall. Paramount Pictures, 1944. DVD.
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