Communication, love and death
in Classical Hollywood cinema
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Chapter 3 largely eschews a ‘transmission’ model of communication. Instead, it takes James Carey’s model of communication as ‘ritual’ and John Durham Peters’ suggestion that communication ought to be about the creation of ‘shared worlds’ as points of departure for the exploration of the central heterosexual romantic relationships in Only Angels Have Wings (Hawks, 1939) and Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948). The latter is offered as a film in which a ‘shared world’ is briefly created by the couple, but then unwittingly destroyed by one of its members. The status of the letter as a communicative encounter that suits the dispositions of both members of the couple is also explored. Only Angels Have Wings is offered as a film in which intimacy stems not from disclosure but from doing, and as a demonstration of the virtues of not communicating.

Classical Hollywood cinema

Point of view and communication

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