Feminism In The Crime Film Genre Essay

2058 Words 9 Pages
Feminism In The Crime Film Genre


Throughout motion picture history, women have experienced more transition in their roles, as a result of changing societal norms, than any other class. At first, both society and the movie industry preached that women should be dependent on men and remain in the home, in order to guarantee stability in the community and the family. As time passed and attitudes changed, women were beginning to be depicted as strong willed, independent minded characters, who were eager to break away from convention. The genre of the crime film represents such a change in the roles handed to women. Two films that can be contrasted, in order to support this view, are: The Public Enemy by William Wellman (1931) and Bonnie
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Women were now being portrayed as powerful, unpredictable, and possessing a mysterious sexual power, which they used to elude male control. The 1960’s also brought with it his tensions that resulted the escalating war in Vietnam, the assassination of John F. Kennedy, black ghettos going up in flames, the women’s liberation movement, the youth anti-war rebellion and free love theme, and the Civil Rights movement. It was safe to say that the American public had violence on its mind and the movie industry capitalized on the public’s apprehensions.

Director Arthur Penn used Bonnie & Clyde as his medium to imprint the rebellious tone of the 1960’s and the uncertainty of the dominant values and norms of society.When we’re first introduced to the character of Bonnie Parker (played by Faye Dunaway), the camera focuses on her as she is admiring her naked body in the mirror. She then falls back on her bed and the camera views her from the outside of her bed rails, in order to give the viewer the impression that she feels imprisoned by her everyday life. Then, she looks out her window and sees a man attempting to steal her mother's car on their front yard lawn. She calls out to him and hurriedly puts on clothes to meet him outside. He quickly intrigues her curiosity by saying that she looks like a movie star stuck in a boring waitress’ job, while telling her that he is a bank robber. She asks him to prove that he is not a "faker", so he shows…