A Great Big Girl Like Me: The Films of Marie Dressler - download pdf or read online

By Victoria Sturtevant

ISBN-10: 0252076222

ISBN-13: 9780252076220

In the 1st book-length learn of Marie Dressler, MGM's so much ecocnomic celebrity within the early Nineteen Thirties, Victoria Sturtevant analyzes Dressler's use of her physique to problem Hollywood's criteria for major girls. At 5 toes seven inches tall and 200 kilos, Dressler frequently performed gruesome ducklings, previous maids, doting moms, and imperious dowagers. even if, her physique, her fearless physicality, and her athletic slapstick exercises commanded the reveal. Sturtevant translates the meanings of Dressler's physique by means of taking a look at her vaudeville profession, her transgressive illustration of an "unruly" but sexual physique in Emma and Christopher Bean, principles of the physique politic within the movies Politics and Prosperity, and Dressler as a mythic physique in Min and Bill and Tugboat Annie.

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Additional resources for A Great Big Girl Like Me: The Films of Marie Dressler

Sample text

Dressler’s performance of intoxication is always a spectacle of the body in ecstasy: face muscles slackening, balance lost, powerful big body reduced to lurching around, giggling, hiccupping, and pratfalls—the whole bag of comedian’s tricks. It is a demonstration of perfect physical control (Dressler’s) communicating the loss of control (the character’s). In the Prohibition world of Dressler’s comeback years, her drinking is also profoundly transgressive: of the law, of conventions of feminine propriety, of moderation.

Through her incorrigible and rebellious scene-stealing, Dressler forced herself back into public awareness and created the conditions for her reemergence in starring roles. Dressler actively resisted the process of her erasure, and the ideological richness of the films of her starring years can be partly attributed to the ways she demanded centrality by disrupting any film that tried to push her to the background. The Unruly Woman Everyone is fair game for humor in comedies, but in twenties films— which set the precedent for those of subsequent decades—older and dowdy women were a little less fair and more game than others.

And Tillie’s adventures at the café are framed by the generically conventional intertitle “The Effect of Tillie’s First Drink,” which suggests the many sensationalistic films at the time about the negative effects of alcohol on moral virtue and family life. This title is followed by a comic shot of Tillie spitting her first drink in Charlie’s face. Indeed, the alcohol here and at the final party does not signify the corrosive effects of city life on the moral lives of the characters. It signifies only the pleasures of physical freedom.

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A Great Big Girl Like Me: The Films of Marie Dressler by Victoria Sturtevant


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