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Title: The happy couple : American marriages in Hollywood films 1934-1948
Author: Pillai, Nicolas
ISNI:       0000 0004 2726 1200
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2012
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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 star personae. 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.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Arts & Humanities Research Council (Great Britain) (AHRC) ; University of Warwick. Humanities Research Centre ; University of Warwick. Dept. of Film and Television Studies
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PN1993 Motion Pictures