Jodi's Reviews > Complicated Women

Complicated Women by Mick LaSalle
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Oct 04, 2007

it was amazing
bookshelves: favorites, performing-arts
Recommended for: Anyone interested in film, society, gender, or history
Read in January, 2007

This book is righteous. It details a short, but fantastic period in film, from the time that talkies came into being, until the Hollywood Production Code of 1934 was put into place. This was an incredible time in our social history, what with industrialization and the end of the first world war, and the book discusses, in detail, the emergence of the modern woman (as well as the modern man, in 'Dangerous Men,' also by Mick LaSalle). The brilliance of this period in film is that it actually reflected the changing society as it was and gave a realistic, if dramatized, view of people and how they lived their lives/what it was to be alive in that era. It was an especially non-restrictive time for women, who were allowed to have on-screen lovers, divorces, abortions, careers, and all manner of things they would not get away with for decades to come. The Production Code was put into place to maintain the moral status quo and only succeeded in destroying a great number of artful and truthful films, while putting a forced candy coating on films for many years to come. When it was finally lifted in the late 1960s, it seems to me that, as is normal when freed from represseion, all hell broke loose (what was the one decade when porn could be popularly viewed on the big screen?). I will say that great artists work well with restriction and the Code resulted in many great and subtly subversive films, such as films noirs.
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