the individual comic because the option to maintain their own relationship continues. The female version of the comedian comedy, however, appears to be almost non-existent (Jenkins 1992 points out a few early exceptions). Female stars’ negotiations with femininity are often conducted through the romantic comedy genre which historically (and in the present) provides the prime comedic focus
Romantic comedy has been described as a narrative of the heterosexual couple with a happy ending in which humour does not necessarily play an important part. In this book I would like to suggest the limitations of this conceptualisation and propose a change of approach in two different but closely linked directions: on the one hand, a comic perspective is a fundamental ingredient of what we understand by
Humour can be theorised as integral to the genre even if there are some films that do not provoke laughter. Romantic comedy has been described as a narrative of the heterosexual couple with a happy ending in which humour does not necessarily play an important part. The comic, protective, erotically-charged space is the space of romantic comedy. This book proposes a revised theory of romantic comedy and then tests its validity through the analysis of texts, but these films must not be expected to fully embody the theory. It proposes a change of approach in two different but closely linked directions. On the one hand, a comic perspective is a fundamental ingredient of what we understand by romantic comedy; on the other, the genre does not have a specific ideology but, more broadly, it deals with the themes of love and romance, intimacy and friendship, sexual choice and orientation. The book discusses two films directed by two of the most prestigious figures in the history of Hollywood comedy: Ernst Lubitsch and Billy Wilder. Lubitsch's
, approached North by Northwest (1959) as a ‘late’ screwball comedy, as a continuation of the ‘comedies of remarriage’ that he himself had labelled and explored some years before (1986), fully contextualising the film within the generic field of romantic comedy. North by Northwest is also a central text in Brill’s theory of the Hitchcockian romance, a film which he considers a modern version of the medieval romance of adventure
Hollywood romantic comedy inevitably ends with the union of a heterosexual couple. But does this union inevitably involve marriage? What part does equality play? Are love and desire identical? This book explores the genre's changing representation of the couple, focusing on marriage, equality and desire in screwball comedy, career woman comedy and sex comedy. The shifting discourses around heterosexuality, gender, romance and love are considered in relation to such socio-historical transformations as the emergence of companionate marriage, war-time gender roles and the impact of post-war consumerism. Going well beyond the usual screwball territory, the book provides an understanding of the functions of conventions such as masquerade, gender inversion and the happy ending. This is complemented by a distinctive focus on individual films and their star couples, including detailed discussion of Myrna Loy and William Powell, Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, and Doris Day and Rock Hudson. The book offers foundational explanations of genre and an analysis of cycles and films.
The history of romantic comedy in Hollywood has been seen as a series of popular cycles followed by periods of dearth or, at least, transitions in between peaks. While, as I have argued in this book, there is much more to the genre than has been included in previous accounts, there is no denying that romantic comedy, perhaps more than other genres, has had its ups and downs in the last century or so. The
romantic comedy in relation to British cinema, with particular regard to the emergence of this particular generic form as a high-profile feature of British film production during the 1990s. Following the international commercial success and critical interest generated by Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994), a number of films exploring the complicated relationships and courtship patterns of young couples in contemporary British
Genre, cycles and critical traditions 7 Part I Hollywood romantic comedy Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert in It Happened One Night (1934). Courtesy of Columbia Tristar. HRCC01 7 27/4/06, 8:37 AM 8 HRCC01 Hollywood romantic comedy 8 27/4/06, 8:37 AM
This essay examines some of the literary and biographical models Truman Capote drew on in the creation of Holly Golightly, the heroine of his 1958 novella Breakfast at Tiffany‘s. Making use of Paramount studio records, the essay also explores the complex process of adapting the story to the big screen. Numerous changes were made so as to transform Capotes story into a romantic comedy, and thus to contain Holly‘s liberated sexuality while also erasing any doubts about the male protagonists heterosexuality. Casting Hepburn as the female lead helped to neutralize Holly‘s sexual transgressiveness, and it sexualized the stars ethereal persona.
This book aims to provoke increased interest in the work of the four directors: Dominique Cabrera, Noémie Lvovsky, Laetitia Masson and Marion Vernoux, although some of their early works have become more difficult to access, most of their films remain commercially available through French distributors. The four directors are not new arrivals and began making films in the early 1990s, yet they have received scant critical attention in both popular and academic film criticism. They share similar profiles in terms of box office success, number of films made and generational affinities and, shorts and feature films in France. They make films that straddle boundaries of categorisation and therefore escape the quickly established and self-perpetuating groupings that serve as powerful frameworks for popular access via DVD distribution, critical canonisation and academic curricula. Whilst Cabrera attests her sanguine awareness of the discriminatory treatment of women in all areas of the film industry she rejects the suggestion that the process of her filmmaking is determined by sexual difference or a gendered creative identity, asserting provocatively. The book discusses Masson's use of romance and detective narratives to debunk the former and subvert the later. The career path of Lvovsky remains distinctive from that of other directors. Vernoux's oeuvre maintains a coherent focus on the modes of transgression present within the generic conventions of comedy and romance in films which exploit the common narrative device of the encounter to propel narratives and characters across social boundaries within a dominant generic focus on romantic comedy.