His Girl Friday, Double Idemnity

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Feminist film theorists have argued that in classical cinema, the spectator’s pleasure revolves around images of the female body. Within the diegesis, the woman often appears as an object to be looked at and acted upon, while the male protagonist is usually granted a more active role, both in terms of his agency in the narrative, and in terms of his enunciative authority. This hypothesis is backed up by elements of two films studied this semester: His Girl Friday by Howard Hawks (1940) and Double Indemnity by Billy Wilder (1944). This is seen through the supporting role that the main female characters take in the movies, the power that the male characters have over the females, and the way ‘that the woman’s image is used to draw attention to specific aspects of the plot. In both of these movies, the females take a subordinate and supporting role to the male figures. First, in His Girl Friday, Hildy is a newspaper reporter, who works for her ex-husband, the editor. In the 1940s, it was customary for women to serve their men at home, and Hildy extended that with her husband to the work place. Every reporter has to answer to the editor, so Walter was Hildy’s boss at home and at work. The movie opens up, and Hildy is returning from a long vacation after the divorce. She returns to Walter Burns, to inform him that she is now engaged. During that conversation, we see a glimpse of how their relationship worked. While Hildy is trying to tell Walter about Bruce, her

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