Female (Curtiz, Dieterle, Wellman, 1933)

Female (Michael Curtiz, William Dieterle, & William A. Wellman, 1933)

Ruth Chatterton plays a strong protagonist, a woman who owns her own big business, and who is not afraid to treat men as they often treat women. The film begins in the hustle and bustle of her auto-manufacturing plant where we are introduced to her fast-talking world of power and pride. Each evening she invites one of her male employees back to her house to ‘discuss business’. This whole world is very straight-lined, white, and gray in its imagery.

After getting fed up with the way people worship her in this world, she heads to the streets for an evening. Here there is color, warmth, and people who don’t even notice she’s there. Here she meets a man, and at this point, I saw great things for the film – a visual and emotional contrast of Chatterton’s two worlds, and a man who she will have to start an actual relationship with before he worships her. Unfortunately, the events that unfold following (while at times funny) are often misogynistic and annoyingly unrealistic. What I was hoping would be a romance involving a different kind of woman character than we are used to seeing in 1933, quickly went south after its fresh, funny, and intriguing start.  7/10


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