Women in Film Noir
Thesis: The role that women played in the 1940s and 1950s Noir films was critical and practical to in the crime dramas that were done then. In this research paper their purpose and reasons of being in the Film noir is investigated.
Introduction: Film noir refers to the cinematic term that describes the stylish Hollywood crime dramas that are mostly linked to the emphasis of the cynical stance as well as the sexual impetus (Hirsh 23). The Hollywood classical film noir duration is the stretch that covers from the early 1940s to the late 1950s.
This duration film noir has been associated with the low-key black and white visualization chic that was deeply rooted from the German expressionist of film making (Hirsh, 18). According to Hirsh (14), the majority off the stories that were covered during that period revolved around the prototypes and the greater part of the classic noir of that time as developed from hard-boiled school of the crime fiction. This organization emerged during the depression to cater for the needs of tutoring of the film writers on how to come up with the crime dramas in the era of film noir.
Main body: According to Silver, Ward, Ursini & Porfirio (33), during the film noir era of between 1940s and 1950s, women actors were composed of very extraordinary and fascinating bunch. Despite the fact that the films featured men as protagonists who are in telepathic anguish, women were the influencers of what these men partook be it is done in good taste or it is designed in negative environment or themes. Film noir women are key players and they are the provocative femme fatales who are out to seduce and lure men into their trap ((Silver, Ward, Ursini & Porfirio 26). These women most beguilingly seduce men after which they then hit back. The women characters in noir films are not much evil but they are linked to the issues of basic misguidance.
The women in film noir do not halt hurting the male characters even after they have fallen in love with them because even though the males are aware of the danger that is likely to come their way they are not able to save themselves from the women sting. Some of the women in film noir include Claire Trevor who was featured in “Born to Kill” in which she is set as a vulnerable character who is mixed with treacherous intuitions and an aphrodisiac for many in the film. Joan Crawford in “Sudden Fear” is another example of the women in film noir characters. Other women in the sector are Ida Lupino of “Road House” and Barbara Stanwyck who futures in “Double Indemnity” amongst others.
From Silver, Ward, Ursini & Porfirio (46), A film noir does encompass a number of plots where the fundamental figure may pose as the clandestine eye just as it was depicted in the “The big sheep”: one of the classical films that were produced during the times of the film noir. The film noir tropes have over years inspired the parody since the 1940s.The roles that women played during the era of film noir were varied and involved many variables in the shooting of films during the era. This is a duration that was tinted by sexual favors, and women had many challenges in the process as they tried to play roles in the mellow drama that span between the early 1940s and late 1950s.
This research paper is thus set to investigate the roles that women played in then cinematography of the film noir durations through the evaluations of films such as Mildred Pierce, Double Indemnity and Sunset blvd.
During the film noir duration, the women were progressively portrayed as the objects of sexual motives and who were used to meet the sexual desires in the crime dramas. The quintessential femme fatale that was in the duration of film noir associated with the usage of her sexual charisma as well as her hardnosed cunning to result to the manipulations of high caliber men with the target of gaining power and sovereignty as well as the greater amounts of money or all the three at once (Dirks).
The woman rejected the conventional role that were set to depict a devoted woman and a family wife who was a loving mother the children and the husband as the communal aspects and doctrine prescribed of a woman. The quintessential femme fatale during the film noir duration, despise the stipulated communal roles of women and her transgressions of the social norms led her to the individual destruction and the destruction of all men that showed interest with her. Such depicting of quintessential femme fatale during the film noir duration is seen as supportive of the existence of social orders especially the reconstruction of powerful and independent women who were made to make quintessential femme fatale suffer at the end.
According to Dirks, a precise evaluation of the film noir suggests that despite the depicting of women as the destroyers and dangerous characters who were set in the crime dramas to devour men all they had, they too are shown as the followers of the traditional stipulations of womanly roles in a family and social standardization. The women are in this context are used to show that their destructive behavior was as a result of the fact that they were fighting against the restriction that men had imposed on them. It is out of seeking liberty and sovereignty that these women were set to play the destructive criminal roles that was influenced by the availability of restrictions that were out to ensure that women were answerable to men in all aspects. The destructive struggle as a juggle of responsibilities as they sought independence as well as a response to the limitations that men did place on their shoulder during the 1940s and 1950s film noir timeline.
Women as images of the globe conventions and shortcomings are seen as dangerous and corrupt as well as irrational variables during the film noir duration in a greater way (Cromwell). The duration crime dramas showed women lacked the actions prescription and few balancing marriages and conventional global woman images all bland to the result of a parody stance. Cromwell argues that this is the perspective of a powerful and fearless woman as well as independent femme fatale that the cinemas of the film noir duration that span between 1940 and 1950s end had and such was very well shown at the end of the 1948 film, which was referred to as “The lady from Shanghai.”
Case examples are used to show how the women were portrayed in film noir.
a) In the DVD, Out of the past, which is one of the classical dramas that qualify to be realistic examples of the film noir, the roles that women played in film noir is well shown. This due to the films ability to portray women as they played various roles in cinematography that was dictated by the needs of the film noir audience and viewers. In the film, Kathie for instance who is the ultimate femme fatale is the propeller of the actions in the film to disaster. She did as first attempt an escape from the relationship she had with whit, and she at second try to run away from various responsibilities that are linked to the womanly aspects in a film and family ties as dictated by the social norms. She as well does through the manipulations of men suitors drive disaster into reality in the film. Ann, a character in the film does as well engage in idyllic actions though she is a featureless and a traditional woman who is genuine and despite all the disturbances she is faced with on matters of murder and another women who is linked to her husband she sticks to the family business and roles. She consoles the husband and stays closer to him has he tries to handle the stressing consciousness of murder and other women in his world.
Kathie shows the worst character traits of greed and dishonesty in addition to disloyalty and above all, she is seen as the proclivity for murder actions and committing. Kathie as woman character in film noir play of “out of the past” is trapped in a limiting and paralyzing relationship with Whit who tried all he could to take charge of her. The crime drama is made more exciting by the hiring of Jeff by Kathie’s husband; Whit, to retrieve her after she had walked on him. Whit in the film does give strict orders to Joe which is able to depict how he treated Kathie and she is underrated more by the comparison that whit gives to her with the thoroughbred racehorse that he had acquired and grazed well as a prize possession. Women in the film noir were subjected to restrictions a depicted by the limiting life that Kathie is subjected to and as they sought their freedom they turned into destructive behavior as mode of revenge and as a response to the paralyzing life that women were let to spend.
According to Silvia Hervey, women in film noir were depicted as prizes and enviable bits and pieces by the men characters of the film noir films. Kathie character was that of a similar tenure that whit had in possession of. This does propose the questioning by the films of the ancient family relationships that existed between males and the females as well as the power that was in between it.
b) In the DVD, Double indemnity, the way women reacts in noir films is easily brought out. This is a 1944 film noir that was directed by Billy warder and it revolves around the insurance meaning of double indemnity where insurance policies double the compensation in cases where death is deemed to be fully accidental. In this film, the women character Barbara wishes her husband were dead. Due to this Barbara dragged the insurance agent Walter Neff during his routine visit to request the couple renew their automobile insurance policy into the greedy wish.
Barbara going by the name of Phyllis develops a flirtation to an extent of asking how she can take a policy to cover her husband life without his knowledge. Neff realizes she is involved in murder contemplation and he does not want to be part of it but the pursuing by Phyllis makes him to fall into the trap as well as his gullibility and libido. Neff is perverted into the aims of Phyllis, the two agrees to kill her husband, and she will have to request compensation on double indemnity grounds. Using Neff’s knowledge in insurance, he devices a way which will see Phyllis husband fall over the train and die a factor that shall result to the accident requirement in double indemnity. All things turns out perfectly but the body of the husband has little testimony in relation to his downfall.
The investigating man Keyes does not suspect foul play but due to the nagging nature of his accomplish he concludes that Phyllis killed her husband with external force assistance a claim that is made stronger by the argument by the victim’s daughter that her stepmother must be behind the death of the father.Afraid of the realization of truth Neff is made to frame Phyllis and Nino as the murderers because Phyllis was seeing him behind his back as well as Lora’s who happens to be the girlfriend to Nino genuinely. Neff meets with Phyllis and her testifying that she was seeing Nino behind his back does revoke to the attempt of killing Lora due to the jealous rage. This makes Neff disgusted and as he prepares to kill Phyllis she shoots her first and he requests for a second shooting which she fails to take and breaks the silence that she never loved Neff till few minutes after taking the first short. He instead shoot her twice and he takes off to the bushes where upon seeing Nino came visit Phyllis he requests him to avoid the house and instead go to the woman who loves him; Lora. Upon reaching his office, he records himself in the Dictaphone and Keyes shows in the process and overhears all and Neff chose to run to Mexico instead of serving life sentence but he succumbs at the elevators door.
The role of Phyllis in this cinema is of destruction for self-gain and independence. She has killed her husband because of money and troubles Neff much due to his accomplish role in the murder of her husband. She spoils a relationship between Neff and Lora and results to the death of Neff upon testifying of foul play in the line of duty. Women are thus in film noir seen as destroyers.
In “Double indemnity,” Phyllis is married to a man who does not even like her existence in his life, Cora as well in “The postman always brings twice” is grounded to the lack of voice when the husband makes obsolete decisions of selling the dinner and sifting to Canada. This is the reason that made Cora furious and she at the end of the crime drama done during the film noir duration that span between 1940 and late 1950s result to his murder. She out of the restrictions, made to commit a deadly crime as she sought independence and freedom of expression on matters that ought to be a bother to her. More over the women in the film noir are more so shown as objects of underrating by “The lady from shanghai” where Elsa was blackmailed into a marriage with her spouse.
c) In the DVD, Mildred pierce, which is a noir film, women roles in the sector is well shown. This is a 1945 feature film from the Warner Bros. It revolves the action where Mildred is being questioned after the discovery of her second husband body. At first Beragon is shot and murmurs Mildred as he collapses and dies a thing that makes the police to believe Mildred pierce is the murderer. Upon winning custody of two children after divorcing her husband, Mildred need a job to ensure that she can afford to cater for the demands of her sixteen year old daughter. She lands a waiters job but she has to hide it from the daughter. Her lastborn daughter succumbs to pneumonia, and she is then made to start her own restaurant, which is a success. Afterwards it turns out to be chain of restaurants. She in the effort to meet the needs of her daughter is engaged to Beragon for the sake of improving her social status and astounds the daughter. Mildred at the end looses business due to Vedas greed and manipulations by Monte.Veda ends up shooting monte and Midred had no otherwise other than to tell the truth, and her daughter ends up in jail.
In this context, the role of women is depicted as that of destroying other people’s efforts for the sake of selfish and personal benefit. This is what Veda is out to achieve in her unmet demands for luxuries, which makes her mother to get into a loveless marriage.
The insinuations from the above movies and other noir films is that the femme fatale is ensnared within the male female relationships and due to them they result into the murder of their partners as the only avenue to deliver them out of the fuss and maltreatment. The only way to escape the disaster makes a realistic challenge to the womanly roles in the traditional family requirements. The noir films do show women as minor objects and their resulting after being influenced by the various restrictions are not enough to justify the endorsement of women into marriage as a realistic option. The film noir are set to question the family relationships between traditional men and women: this is the question that majority of noir films are out to achieve by their manifestation of the disabled man. This image is attributed to the emptiness of marriage as well as family for the women of the film noir. The control that is subjected to women by men is equated to paralysis, which horrifies women most.
d)In the Dvd, Sunset blvd, women in film noir is outlined respectively. This 1950 movie revolves around ensnaring of Holden by Swanson into being a kept man. In the folding of the curtains, Joe’s body is seen floating in the Norma’s sunset Boulevard swimming pool. Joe met Norma after surviving a car chase from the people whom he owes money and it after he experienced a car wheel burst. He lies to be a writer and she asks him to give a hand and write a script that was set to awaken her faded career. He runs away after realizing she attempted murder but guilt brings him back to her mansion. Joe falls in love with Betty and Norma realization spurs her into making a call to Betty and insinuate the kind of person Joe his. After the Betty’s visit Joe, is left packing on his way back to Ohio and he ignores the threats that Norma will shoot herself if he leaves. Unfortunately, she shoots him as he left which saw his body float in the swimming pool similar to the first scene.
Jealousy and self-interest is what drove Norma to shoot Joe. He was fed of restrictions and has he sought liberty he succumbed into death that depicts the role of women in the film noir as that of being obstacles to growth and betterment of the situations at hand. Jealousy did overtake women characters in the noir films that were short in between 1940s and 1950s.
Noir films depict more progressive perspective of the women characters when compared to the other films from Hollywood produced during the same time: early 1940s and 1950s. This is because they are able to depict the lack of balance between the images of conventional women and families.
Film noir does as well show women aberrations that are necessary for destruction. Women are engaged in destructions that are supposed to be eliminated for social order to be restored. The women views in film noir are paranoid and claustrophobic in addition to being devoured of hope and full of doom. They are associated with the present, which is as result of the past dictated practices. The film noir depiction of the women lacks moral and personal identity, the femme fatale is shown as a normal aspect of the environment she thrives in, and it is the communal despotism of feminine gender that is a skew within the stringent sexual category roles.
Menaced women noirs involves the turning of the old treaties to include the women being menaced by men who are normally their spouses. This because these men are supposed to take care of the women but to the contrary they are seen mistreating women which ends to them being murdered on shames that were created by their wife’s. This is because these women are subjected to situations that are limiting and paralyzing in a greater way.
Women in the film noirs are an indication of the world happenings that are rooted on usage of certain outlook variables to get in to the neck of the interested parties (Silver, Ward, Ursini & Porfirio 54) . This is in relation to the fact that all men who developed interest on these women were subjected to situations that made them to pay dearly for the mistakes they made.
Neff for instance in “Double Indemnity” was forced to go against the insurance policies due to libido that he developed towards his insurance client’s wife Barbara. He was subjacent to bush life and habitation to avoid the life sentence that he could have been subjected to due to murder charges. The womanly roles in the noir films is one to be respected and feared most by the other characters because they resulted to cries and regrets. Through women in the film noir ideologies and the overwhelming greed and self-nourishment that the today’s world seeks was brought into right effectively. Thus, it was significant to have included women in the film noirs between early 1940s and late 1950s.
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