The Casting Couch and Other Front Row Seats: Women in Films of the 1970s and 1980s

The Casting Couch and Other Front Row Seats: Women in Films of the 1970s and 1980s

The Casting Couch and Other Front Row Seats: Women in Films of the 1970s and 1980s

The Casting Couch and Other Front Row Seats: Women in Films of the 1970s and 1980s

Synopsis

This collection of film reviews and essays focuses on the role of women in films during the 1970s and 1980s. The author examines the shifting portrayals of women from the almost anti-progressive treatment of women in the early 1970s through the integration of more progressive professional women in the films of the late 1980s. She shows that most of the important movies of the period were about women and that these films seemed to reflect the momentous changes that women were going through in the society at large. The analysis is augmented with personal interviews with leading female actresses of the period.

Excerpt

Very little in movies of the early 1970s prepared audiences--maybe even the filmmakers themselves--for the radical changes that were about to occur on screen, then ultimately elevate themselves, like a 3--D pop-up card, into a position of tremendous influence in people's lives. It was almost as if, like the backgrounds in those cards, the movies became the far less important item, giving way to the new role possibilities women film stars were embodying.

In the first part of the decade, films that were the most popular, and made the most money, were either without any female roles or else contained female roles that were superficial. A Variety headline from the era announces that family films did the most business in 1969, the top two grossers of that year being The Love Bug and Funny Girl. In 1970 Love Story swept all other contenders before it, and other big winners in the early 1970s were The Godfather, Fiddler on the Roof, and What's up, Doc? Of the top ten grossers of 1974, the year The Sting headed the list, only The Great Gatsby and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid had major roles for women, and those roles were hardly progressive.

The year 1975 brought Lucky Lady, with Liza Minelli as a wisecracking bootlegger and in 1973 the usually serious Glenda Jackson won an Oscar for a comedy, A Touch of Class, in which she portrayed a married but separated dress designer having an affair with a married man, played by George Segal.

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