Archive for Screwball Week

The Screwball Week Impossible Film Quiz: Ladies for a Day

Posted in FILM with tags , on May 3, 2017 by dcairns

Who were those ladies I saw without you last night? Or better yet, who are these man/woman crossover experiments, and in what films do they occur? An easier-than-usual Shadowplay Impossible Film Quiz. This next ones aren’t strictly drag, but is reasonably tricky.

Looked at all together, these images certainly suggest an obsession in the collective screwball unconscious. Come the forties, gender-bending is largely out, and the reinforcing of traditional societal norms, scarcely the most fecund comic terrain, is in. Forties comedies become depressingly centered on forcing the little woman back in the kitchen, while you get norms challenged in the film noir genre, but as a source of anxiety. But at least the femme fatale isn’t heading for that kitchen except at gunpoint.

The drag acts in screwball are, as in the later SOME LIKE IT HOT, generally performed under pressure of circumstance. But they aren’t just mean exercises in humiliation or emasculation. The screwball itself has something in its DNA to do with how liberating it can be to drop your dignity and your pants and make a fool of yourself. Feminine dignity is associated with being ladylike, so that has to get messed with, and male dignity has to do with machismo and competence and wearing the pants.