Movie Genres: Woman’s Picture

For decades, what studios billed as “woman’s pictures” were denigrated in terms of status and prestige.

These were films that dealt with marital and domestic issues, and often had unpromising titles.

The emotional problems of women were subsumed under the general heading of bourgeois morality.

The women’s films, like the Westerns, were often adapted from a culturally disreputable literary genre, books by Vicki Baum or Fannie Hurst.

This explains the relative anonymity of such directors as John Stahl or Edmund Goulding in the more serious (read solemn) critical histories of the American cinema.

The auteurist revolutions in the 1960s, combined with the feminist movement of the 1970s led to the reappraisal of the woman’s film as a genre.

They lead to the realization that significant films 9artistically0 could be made out of “dubious” source material (Sarris).

Thus, the emotional problems  of women no longer seemed as trivial or escapist as they had seemed before.

The intensity of a director’s gaze no longer seemed static or inherently anti-cinematic.

There was a renewed interest in the luminous close-ups of beautiful actresses, from Garbo to Lana Turner.