Tell me exactly what you saw and what you think it means.
Grace Kelly Lisa Fremont, Rear Window
I think I’m in a frame… I don’t know. All I can see is the frame… I’m going in there now to look at the picture.
Robert Mitchum as Jeff Bailey, Out of the Past
Sparkling dialogue such as this, spoken by Robert Mitchum’s Jeff Bailey in Out of the Past convinced me I was a film fatale. The frame, the picture, and the movie screen are captivating by design. And the classic genres, Hollywood studios, and star system continue to speak to us today. Movies of the past are seductive, invariably inviting us back to “look at the picture.” They are as relevant now as they ever were.
Stories of resistance have always intrigued me, especially when filmmakers have chosen alternate paths through dominant Hollywood structures because they were determined–or inspired–to make change. My latest book Phantom Lady: Hollywood Producer Joan Harrison, The Forgotten Woman Behind Hitchcock offers a timely history, conveying a woman’s struggle to assert her agency in a male-dominated entertainment industry over the span of four decades.
The role of women as Hollywood storytellers—and the power they exercise in their efforts to express themselves—has been central to my work. My first book, Feminist Hollywood: From Born in Flames to Point Break, examined a group of women directors who entered commercial Hollywood from the realm of 1970s counter cinema. My follow-up, Magnolia, was the first full-length study of the Paul Thomas Anderson film. I have also explored the historical and cultural significance of such pioneering women as Carole Lombard, Jodie Foster, Sally Field, Kathryn Bigelow, Susan Seidelman, and Sofia Coppola.
I currently teach film studies at the University of Miami, where I am Chair of the Department of Cinematic Arts, which leaves precious little time for my other passions — haunting vintage shops and reveling in the excesses of noir’s hard-boiled loners, fatal women, and wise-cracking dames.