Films About Women 14

1 Psycho

This is, quite possibly, Alfred Hitchcock’s most iconic film. When the movie was first released, people were not permitted in the theater after it started and there were signs asking viewers not to give away the ending. I will give away the ending, or at least spoil much of the movie. (Don’t give me that spoiler bullshit. The movie was spoiled for me before I saw it, and it was still chilling to me.)

This film stars Janet Leigh, although she dies partway through the movie. Hitchcock wanted it that way. He wanted to shock the audience with this turn of events. There’s a lesson in that. So many times in popular movies, there is very little danger that the hero will die or even get injured. It’s why I don’t like Superman, even though he is a product of Cleveland. In modern times, George R. R. Martin has realized that one of the ways to ensure loyalty (and fanaticism) among followers is to constantly kill off main characters. He told Conan O’Brien, “I want my readers to be afraid.” (Full Disclosure: I have never seen nor read Game of Thrones.)

Annex - Leigh, Janet (Psycho)_01

The film shows Hitchcock’s (and the screenwriters) fascination with Fruedian ideas, particularly the Oedipal complex. It is also a film that broke many, many taboos of film in the 1960’s. This is the first film to show a toilet onscreen. In a way, this film prophesies the end of the self imposed censorship of Hollywood, which would come later in the decade.

It also features an iconic score from Bernard Herrmann composed entirely of strings. I always find music in early films to be too dependent upon strings, but this is one film where it does not bother me in the least. The most famous section of music is, by far, the shower scene. It is truly spine tingling.

I also want to point out that Janet Leigh’s character did not have $40,000. I have seen $40,000, and she did not have it. She had about $20,000 at most.

Anyway, go spend some time at the Bates Motel. Relax. Enjoy the stuffed birds. Take a shower. 😉

2 9 to 5

I saw this film many, many years before I had ever had a paying job. At the time, I thought the film was very funny, but I could not understand why the women did not simply quit. Their boss, is, after all, a sexist egotistical lying hypocritical bigot. Now that I have had jobs, I realize that this is far easier said than done.

The film follows three women with a truly terrible boss. Then one day, a strange turn of events leads to them kidnapping their boss and desperately trying to blackmail him into keeping quiet.

The film is very much about wish fulfillment. Apparently, before beginning the film, the filmmakers asked a group of secretaries if they had ever had fantasies about getting back at their bosses. They certainly had, and they were eager to share their favorite revenge fantasies. The film deals with women in the workplace, but I think that men can relate to this problem as well. (Office Space, anyone?)


One key part of the film that I appreciate far more is the montage where the three women (played by Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, and Dolly Parton) institute changes that vastly improve the office. As a child, this seemed like a throwaway. I understand it now. Everyone who has ever worked in a large company has noticed asinine decisions made by superiors that are counterproductive or simply nonsensical. Everyone has thought of ways to improve the workplace. Unfortunately, these suggestions are often dismissed by those in power. In this film, the women actually get to implement the changes they desire with a great deal of success.

Oh, it’s also funny. The center focus of the film is one of the funniest things I have ever seen.

3 Persepolis

I hesitated before putting this film on the list. At times, this film can be boring. However, it is certainly an incredibly unique and innovative film. The film, Persepolis, is the coming of age story of a girl from a secular family in Iran. When the 1979 revolution comes, it causes her a tremendous amount of upheaval. She cannot understand the radical changes that take place in her life.

This is largely based on the life of the writer, and yet is it especially appropriate that the writer is a girl. The restrictions that girls and women face in Iran (as well as in many other Muslim countries) can be incredibly severe. Before the revolution, clothing was very western. After the revolution, women were required to dress in black with the hijab.

Like I said, at times this film seemed a little boring, but at the same time, I was also suffering from jet lag, so I cannot blame the film entirely. It is also a film about isolation and the feeling of disconnect from family and society. It also illuminates a mysterious part of the world. For that, it belongs on the list.

Oh, I also saw this film at the Cinematheque, the film center which is far too cool for the likes of me. I’m just a poser.

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3 Responses to Films About Women 14

  1. Pingback: Films About Women 14 | Tinseltown Times

  2. Teresa Rice says:

    I enjoyed watching Hitchcock’s Psycho.

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