‘Monster-Fighting Feminists’

imageThe Day the Earth Stood Still (1951).

Over at RogerEbert.com, Bob Calhoun discusses the liberated women of 1950s sci-fi cinema — classics like Them! (1954) and The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) — and why the woman scientist archetype waned in later decades:

In her October 8, 2013 RogerEbert.com piece, “Visual Pleasure and Voodoo Demographics: a Reflection on Woman and Film,” Carrie Rickey writes that “in the 1930s and 1940s each studio has female screenwriters to create female characters.”

With the collapse of the studio system, the woman scientist character seemed to vanish from future remakes and re-imaginings of ‘50s science fiction movies even as more actual women scientists graduated from America’s universities.

…There are also no lady ichthyologists on the expedition to kill the shark in Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws” (1975), Universal’s slick updating of its “Creature from the Black Lagoon” formula. Spielberg also has no space for educated women in his 2005 remake of “War of the Worlds,” reducing Ann Robinson from the original to a cameo as a grandmother, and casting an 11-year-old Dakota Fanning in the film’s most prominent female role.

MICHELE DAGLE

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