Yes, of course, I wish along with you that women filmmakers, and movies centered on female protagonists, were so common that the notion of singling them out for attention was beyond ludicrous. That day is still a long way off in mainstream commercial films, and that’s all that counts for a certain chunk of our society. Let’s consider the glass half-full this month, and contemplate the array of mothers, lovers, daughters, sisters and gal-pals having their say and getting their way (at least some of the time) in other genres, and in Old Hollywood.
In film noir, women are rarely the motor that propels the movie, but they’re almost always the engine that revs the men who drive the story. An exception of sorts is the newlywed played by Kim Hunter in the no-budget 1944 thriller When Strangers Marry (Thursday, May 17), unearthed by programmer extraordinaire Elliot Lavine for his latest compilation of mid-century pulp, I Wake Up Dreaming 2012: The French have a name for it!. Hunter, with ex-boyfriend Robert Mitchum lending amoral support, starts to wonder if new hubby Dean Jagger is a lunatic killer.
When Strangers Marry
Most of the series, which runs May 11-24 at the Roxie in San Francisco, features variations of the typical female noir role — the femme fatale; one highlight among many is Mamie Van Doren lighting Lee Van Cleef’s cigar, so to speak, in the 1959 heist yarn, Guns, Girls and Gangsters (Thursday, May 24). For more information visit roxie.com.
The GAZE Women Film Series at Artists’ Television Access (ATA) presents a program of short films conceived and directed by women exploring the theme of home. Working variously in experimental, documentary and narrative genres, Anjali Sundaram, Kyja Kristjansson-Nelson, Raquel Schefer, Irina Leimbacher, Merve Kayan, Vera Brunner-Sung and Mandy Williams contemplate the complexities of family, strangers and familiar and unfamiliar environments. GAZE screens Thursday, May 17, 2012 at ATA in San Francisco. For more information visit atasite.org.