Women In Old Hollywood Filmmaking

The heart of the United States film industry is in Hollywood, a neighborhood in Los Angeles, California. Generally, the film industry is more male-dominated field but some women have defied all odds and left a feminine mark in Hollywood. Before we check out some of the women in Hollywood filmmaking note that during the old school Hollywood cinema era women did not have predominant roles in movies. During that period, women who were featured in films were stereotyped as either sex objects or a scorned person who was to face punishment and humiliation.

The male gaze

Take a look at the classical movies, men were always portrayed as superior. Superhero roles or leading characters were all given to men. The earliest Hitchcock films and James Bond all starred male lead characters. All the movies from the Classical era were all similar because they all were missing a strong female presence as the lead actors. Women were not completely missing in action they were given passive roles and portrayed as highly sexual objects.
Literary theorist Laura Mulvey explains during the classical Hollywood filmmaking men asked women out, initiated romantic relationships and paid for tickets this, in turn, led to the film companies and producers setting the affluent male as their target audience. They artfully directed their movies to please and excite the paying audiences.

The movies achieved the film companies’ objectives which were to make men feel superior and affirm their place in society. Grace Kelly, the glamorous socialite in Hitchcock’s movie Rear Window shows all the above-mentioned traits throughout the entire movie. Grace role which is Lisa Carol confirms her feminine character within the ”male gaze” phenomenon. Though successful she is not considered important, her value is gauged by the emotions she provokes on Jeffrey.

Most successful actresses

Grace Kelly’s award-winning performance playing as Lisa Carol in the Rear Window affirms Laura Mulvey’s theory that the patriarchy is enveloped in film. Kelly received overwhelming praise for her stellar performance in Rear Window. The Academy Awards honored Grace Kelly with a nomination and award for Best Actress. Rear Window’s closing scenes also back Laura Muley’s point because the passive female and active male achieve their culturally dictated roles. Lisa Carol trades in all her exotic dresses for the society accepted housewife clothing while Jeffrey gives up his bachelor lifestyle to assume the traditionally accepted husband role.

Classical Hollywood filmmaking had a sexist convention of accepting society’s gender set roles which tried to make the women inferior and portrayed the men as heroes and admirable figures in the community. While Hollywood is still struggling with gender inequality to date, women played a silent role in the classical Hollywood filmmaking period which helped shape up what we all now enjoy. The first woman to direct a film was Alice Guy-Blache who began to make films in 1896, originally from France Alice moved to the US where she founded her own production company Solax.