Feminist Fridays: The Women of The Maltese Falcon

Chapter Three of Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon is titled, appropriately enough, “Three Women.” It opens with Sam Spade chastising his exhausted secretary, Effie Perine, for allowing Iva Archer, his dead partner’s widow, into the office. Spade is impatient with the woman–his secret lover–and extricates himself from her clutches as soon as possible. He later…

Being Mrs. Skeffington.

Throughout her long and varied career, Bette Davis excelled at playing complicated women. From the slatternly waitress in Of Human Bondage (1934) to the spoiled Southern belle in 1938′s Jezebel to the grand dame of the theater, Margo Channing, in 1950′s All About Eve, Davis’ filmography is stacked with a series of unparalleled performances. Part of the…

Alligators have the right idea. They eat their young.

I’ve heard the 1945 film noir Mildred Pierce called “anti-feminist” by some critics. This in itself is not surprising–the noir genre is notoriously woman-unfriendly, populated mainly by harridans, manipulative shrews, and sly seductresses, all depicted with broad, stereotypical strokes by a cadre of male directors. But the title character of Mildred Pierce is much more…