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October 29 , 2007

All that Hollywood Allows

Re-reading Gender in 1950s Melodrama


All that Hollywood Allows explores the representation of gender in popular Hollywood melodramas of the 1950s. Both a work of feminist film criticism and theory and an analysis of popular culture, this provocative book examines from a cultural studies perspective top-grossing film melodramas, such as A Streetcar Named Desire, From Here to Eternity, East of Eden, Imitation of Life and Picnic.
Stereotypically viewed as a complacent and idyllic time, the 1950s were actually a time of dislocation and great social change. Jackie Byars argues that mass media texts of the period, especially films, provide evidence of society's consuming preoccupation with the domestic sphere - the nuclear family and its values - and she shows how Hollywood melodramas interpreted and extended societal debates concerning family structure, sexual divisions of labour, and gender roles. Her readings of these films assess a variety of critical methodologies and approaches to textual analysis, some central to feminist film studies and some previously bypassed by scholars in the field.

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