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Title: The extraordinary state of the union : reviewing marriage, equality and desire in Hollywood romantic comedy, 1934-1965.
Author: Glitre, Kathrina.
Awarding Body: University of Reading
Current Institution: University of Reading
Date of Award: 2002
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This thesis explores the changing representation of the heterosexual couple in Hollywood romantic comedy. Having placed romantic comedy within a critical and generic framework (Chapters One and Two), this thesis focuses upon three cycles of films to explore shifting cultural attitudes towards the key areas of marriage, equality and desire. Each cycle is placed within a specific cultural context, before analysing an exemplar y film and its star couple in close detail. Chapter Three investigates the representation of companionate marriage in thirties' screwball comedy; Chapter Four analyses Libeled Lady (1936) and the "perfect" marriages of Myrna Loy and William Powell. Chapter Five explores the question of complementary gender equality during the forties, as illustrated by the career woman comedy cycle, and specifically by Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy in Woman of the Year (1942). Chapter Six discusses the confusion of consumer and sexual desires in the glossy sexploitation comedies of the fifties, taking Doris Day and Rock Hudson's "bedroom problems" in Pillow Talk (1959) as exemplary. While romantic comedy is generally seen as inherently conservative - reaffirming the status quo through the union of the heterosexual couple -I argue that the ideological contradictions embodied in the films are presented critically and rarely resolved convincingly. Instead, the films repeatedly acknowledge the extraordinary status of the couple, and this thesis concludes by considering the ideological implications of this status.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available