This leads to some basic questions. Have Chicana film characters been identifiable? For the most part, yes, although there are often problems in distinguishing Chicanas from Mexicanas, other United States Latinas, and Spanish-surnamed Native Americans. Has there been a Chicana filmic image separate and distinct from Latinas in general? The answer is yes during the 1930s and 1940s when Lupe Vélez and Dolores Del Rio were making their special, personal mark and during the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s when Latinas in the old west were clearly Chicanas. But the answer is no since 1970, as the Chicana film image has essentially been subsumed within a larger urban Latina image, including Chicanas, Puerto Ricans, and other nationally indistinguishable Hispanics. Have Chicana film images run to types? Certainly, although those types have varied over time. Have these types resulted in filmic stereotypes? A cautious yes, based on the fact that within each era there has been so little diversity in Chicana roles.
Has this affected the public perception of Chicanas? I am certain of it, based on the general research documenting the impact of films on viewers' beliefs about the attitudes toward ethnic groups. However, I leave specific impact research to my social and behavioral science colleagues. Finally, how do Mexican-American women feel about the Chicana film image that has been created? Ask Marfa, ask any of them.
Reprinted by permission of the publisher from Chicano Cinema. Research, Reviews, and Resources, Keller, Gary (Ed.) ( Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ: Bilingual Press/Review, 1985). Copyright © Bilingual Press/Review, 1985.
I would like to thank the Research Committee of the University of California, Riverside, Academic Senate for an intramural research grant which supported research for this article, and my colleague, Charles Wetherell, for his incisive comments on an early draft of the article.