The happy couple : American marriages in Hollywood films 1934-1948
Pillai, Nicolas (2012) The happy couple : American marriages in Hollywood films 1934-1948. PhD thesis, University of Warwick.
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Official URL: http://webcat.warwick.ac.uk/record=b2582739~S1
This thesis examines Hollywood narratives of married life produced between
1934 and 1948. Using Stanley Cavell’s seminal Pursuits of Happiness as a point of
departure, I compare the depiction of benign domesticity across four chapters.
Combining textual analysis, genre criticism and studio archival research, I re-evaluate
Cavell’s notion of ‘films in conversation’, and suggest that narratives of marriage call
for an approach that considers intertextuality, audience address and the interaction of
My first two chapters focus on MGM’s six Thin Man films, discussing an
ongoing series’ portrayal of a continuous marriage. In my analysis of The Thin Man,
After the Thin Man and Another Thin Man, I argue that the mystery plots of these
films inform and inflect the depiction of marriage in private and public space. In
contrast to previous studies that view Shadow of the Thin Man, The Thin Man Goes
Home and Song of the Thin Man as signaling the onset of domesticity and the
format’s decline, I view these films as proposing alternative ways of attending to the
problem of the male child.
The third chapter compares Penny Serenade and Mr. Blandings Builds his
Dream House, films in which the happiness of a family is made contingent upon the
construction of a home. In this chapter, I suggest that building a home for one’s
daughters permits the films’ mise-en-scene to be invested with possibility of renewal.
My fourth chapter discusses three films in which a partner returns to marriage after a
period of absence – My Favourite Wife, The Best Years of Our Lives and Tomorrow is
Forever. With particular attention to the role of ‘the other woman’, I note ways in
which these narratives propose the future of their couples.
|Item Type:||Thesis or Dissertation (PhD)|
|Subjects:||P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1993 Motion Pictures|
|Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH):||Married people in motion pictures, Motion pictures, American -- History and criticism|
|Official Date:||April 2012|
|Institution:||University of Warwick|
|Theses Department:||Department of Film and Television Studies|
|Sponsors:||Arts & Humanities Research Council (Great Britain) (AHRC) ; University of Warwick. Humanities Research Centre ; University of Warwick. Dept. of Film and Television Studies|
|Extent:||333 leaves : ill.|
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