Hawksian Women

Essay by raminabrams December 2014

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Ramin Abrams

English Comp. 3

Leach conveys that while slapstick comedy remains "innocent" of sex, sexuality is a central concern of screwball comedy. In screwball comedies, sexuality plays an important role in the melodrama between male and female desire for authority and control. The significance of sexuality in the two films, Twentieth Century and His Girl Friday express the roles of women contrast to real life in the 1930's. The 1930s brought a reconceptualization of the ideal love relationship between men and women, and both films take the form of a series of contests between its characters where two loves become one hate. The desire for control as a woman, and men manipulating women to get what they want are key motifs of Hawk's work in the genre of screwballs. The characters are combatting in a "sexual warfare" and this creates a confusion of sexual roles, suddenly making his films more interesting.

The contest between male and female heros throws a screwball into this synthesis of love and work. Between director and actor, husband and wife, and male and female.

In Twentieth Century, Lily tries to gain control of her life but this idea of "sexual warfare" pushes Oscar Jaffe to stop her from gaining dominance. In the 1930's, if women asserted authority, society would deny them. An example in the film is the first rehearsal, "Like a Bat Kilgallen," she loses her name and Jaffe changes it to Lily Garland. This is partially due because it was common for immigrant actors to change their name but Jaffe also did it for control. To create the idea that he created Lily Garland. The entire rehearsal, Jaffe performed unscrupulous acts of criticism to authoritate that he is the hero and dominant of Lily. The two started showing emotions for each other,