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Treatment of Women in Two Films

The treatment of women in the films The girl Can't Help It (Frank Tashlin, 1957) and Some Like It Hot (Billy Wilder, 1959) reflects both the attitudes of the time in which the film was made and to a degree the attitudes of an earlier age, notably the 1920s in Some Like It Hot. The films have similarly ambivalent credentials--each film makes full use of the beautiful woman as sexual object, presenting her again and again as a source of titillation for the males in the audience just as she is for male characters in the film, while at the same time the underlying theme in each film tries to downgrade the woman as sexual object and to elevate her to a different status. In each case, there are a number of males who buy into and even live by the stereotype of women, while other males in the films serve as converts to what we might characterize as a mildly feminist point of view. Some Like It Hot is both more daring and more interesting in this regard, for it not only has males who come to understand and empathize with women better, but these males actually experience what it means to be a woman and gain their empathy from that experience.

Show business is also the milieu for both stories, and the dichotomy noted above comes into play here as show business often relies on the stereotype as a lure while at the same time offering women a chance to have a career in a man's world that they might not otherwise have been able to have. The Girl Can't Help It is overtly occupied with the way women are promoted and developed in a sexist way in order to provide them with careers. The character played by Jayne Mansfield is beautiful and sexy to the point where all she has to do is walk down the street to tantalize every male for blocks, and this fact alone is her "talent," to be developed by her manager in order to make her a hot commodity. Tom Ewell at first refuses to take the job of promoting this woman because he knows how difficult it is...

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Treatment of Women in Two Films. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 12:45, April 26, 2019, from