For Reel

Female (1933)
May 16, 2011, 6:33 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Michael Curtiz

A proto-feminist film from the ever reliable Michael Curtiz, Female stars Ruth Chatterton as the president of the Drake Motorcar Company, an enterprise wherein she reigns almost exclusively over men. Ignoring romantic advances and instead using her employees as sexual objects, Chatterton is finally “tamed” by George Brent in the film’s biggest misgiving. Although eventually redeeming her image as an independent woman, Chatterton gives up her businesswoman stature for motherhood, a depressing turn in what is otherwise a refreshingly progressive film. Still, the juxtaposition of the old-fashioned Brent and the newly liberated Chatterton, typically shot in her office which oversees the heavy machinery of her industry, suggests that the corporate world is undergoing a transition in which women will soon be considered just as apt to run a business as men – an argument that you don’t often see made in the decades to follow given the Production Code’s romanticization of the nuclear family and thus the regression of the women back into the kitchen.

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