Sunday 28 August 2022
I know I just reviewed a batch of movies two days ago, but when I wrote that, these two felt like they should get a separate post. So they did.
103/2112. The Single Standard (1929)
Greta Garbo's capricious protagonist suffers through a series of romantic misadventures that illuminate how differently men and women are treated by society. There are a surprising number of suicide attempts, all of them by men, suggesting that maybe women aren't the weaker sex.
As it happens, I just a few days ago watched a surprisingly similar movie:
119/2128. The Grasshopper (1970)
Jaqueline Bisset's capricious protagonist suffers through a series of romantic misadventures that illuminate how differently men and women are treated by society, this time adding race and homosexuality and youth culture and drugs into the mix. I'm inclined to call this an exploitation film, both for its slapdash craftsmanship and overly sensational subject matter — Jim Brown beats a racist pedophile for raping his wife and is then shot to death in a revenge killing... on a basketball court!
Despite their stylistic differences (which, frankly aren't so different considering the cinema sensibilities of their eras), both The Single Standard and The Grasshopper ask their female leads to carry most of the emotional weight. The former seeks to showcase Garbo's protagonist's 1920s strength while the latter wallows in Bisset's 1960s weaknesses.
Did society change so much, or did Hollywood? Frankly, the key difference is probably that Garbo's movie was written by women, while Bisset's was written by men (including Garry Marshall of Happy Days and Pretty Woman fame). Everyone loses when their opponent is allowed to tell the story.
More to come.