Books on Film

I've been reading some fascinating books about cinema, and my university library is so full of them I never know where to start. So I thought I'd point some out that were of interest to me particularly, and that I'm at some stage of reading at the moment:

From Reverence to Rape: The Treatment of Women in the Movies by Molly Haskell

Haskell's ambitious critical study of the different 'types' of women throughout Hollywood's history - the vamp, the virgin, the wholesome good girl and the busty sex goddess - highlights the patriarchal attempt to place women in submissive roles in the movies. Haskell covers Hollywood from the 1920's to the 1970's, discussing the star personas of Lillian Gish, Marlene Dietrich, Katharine Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Doris Day, and so on. By doing so, she fascinatingly uncovers our national tendencies toward sexual repression and our attempt to dominate women's sexuality and free choice by organising, controlling, subjugating, or shaming it. A great Feminist handbook for American film studies.

Hard Hats, Rednecks, and Macho Men: Class in 1970's American Cinema by Derek Nystrom

Derek Nystrom has come up with a brilliant thesis about a common theme in 70s Hollywood, one that seems terribly obvious yet has remained relatively undiscussed; the figure of the working-class white male. From the possible homoeroticism of Saturday Night Fever to the potential danger of the 'redneck' in films like The Deliverance, Nystrom deals with the undergirding theme of the social and political upheaval of the 70's - class. It is one that American myth has sought largely to ignore, but is brought to the fore in many films of this period, with the interplay of working-class masculinity against a more middle-class milieu, feminism, homosexuality, and war. It's easy to digest and has an interestingly fresh perspective on films that have been written about again & again.


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