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Gender Meets Genre in Postwar Cinemas$
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Christine Gledhill

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780252036613

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252036613.001.0001

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The Genius of Genre and the Ingenuity of Women

The Genius of Genre and the Ingenuity of Women

(p.15) Chapter 1 The Genius of Genre and the Ingenuity of Women
Gender Meets Genre in Postwar Cinemas

Jane M. Gaines

University of Illinois Press

This chapter examines a two-minute melodrama by silent cinema director-producer, Alice Guy Blaché, and demonstrates several of its entry points for—mutually exclusive—readings. Crucially, such readings depend on familiar generically gendered possibilities. Thus, against feminism's assertion of difference, rethinking gender as generic foregrounds the role of repetition and its dynamic of expectation. It is here that the woman filmmaker can work. Her “ingenuity” lies in responding to the “genius” of genre's play with expectation, working out of the past to stage permutations for future imaginings. Perhaps the true irony on which Blaché's film turns is the impossible choice between mother and fiancée posed not only for the hero but for female spectators—a type of binary thinking elucidated in the film's generic play and which feminism now challenges.

Keywords:   Alice Guy Blaché, melodrama, feminist films, gender, feminism, women filmmakers

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