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      GullCottage / FlyingBear Film School - 


(2003 / TCM - Timeline / total 55min.)

Narr. by - Jane Fonda
Dir. by - Hugh Monroe Neely
Written by - Hugh Monroe Neely & Andi Hicks
Based on the book “Complicated Women” by Mick LaSalle
Prod. by - Andi Hicks, John Flynn, Keith Lawrence
Exec. Prod. For Turner Classic Movies - Tom Brown
Dir. Of Photography - Harry Dawson
Edited by - Hugh Monroe Neely & Andi Hicks
Music - Nigel Holton

     “Pre-code Hollywood.  For five sexy and fun-filled years - beginning in 1929, movies were glamorous, sophisticated and startlingly frank.  Women dominated the box office.  On screen they took lovers, had babies out of wedlock, explored their sexuality, got rid of cheating husbands, and held down professional positions without apologizing”.

     But it all came to a crashing halt in 1934 as the motion picture censorship “Hays Code“, in response to a wave of ultra-religious conservatism, came crashing down like an anvil - keeping American audiences “safe” from radical notions of gender identification, feminism and the discourse on sexual orientation, until finally lifted in 1968. 

     After the institution of “the Code” the depiction of women in film would, for the next three and a half decades, retreat primarily into subservient suburban LEAVE IT TO BEAVER-like domesticity, genre “damsels in distress”, and film noir femme fatales ultimately punished for stepping “out of the bounds” of social propriety.  It's a paradigm from which the film industry in particular (and western culture in general) has still yet to fully recover.  

     Narrated by Jane Fonda, and based on the best-seller by Mick LaSalle, COMPLICATED WOMEN features excerpts from classics such as THE DIVORCEE (1930), ANNA CHRISTIE (1931) and QUEEN CHRISTINA (1933) - one of the first major studio films to contain a lesbianism subtext, as well as interviews with actresses Kitty Carlisle, Karen Morely, Virginia Madsen, Bo Derek, Theresa Russell, film critic Molly Haskell and more.  -  CEJ




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HUGH MONROE NEELY is the Director / Editor / Producer behind some of the most critically acclaimed cinema documentaries of the last 20 yrs. including, CAPTURED ON FILM: THE TRUE STORY OF MARION DAVIES, CLARA BOW: DISCOVERING THE “IT” GIRL, STAR POWER: THE CREATION OF UNITED ARTISTS, THE DEMILLE DYNASTY and more.

     MICK LASALLE is film critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, podcaster and author of the books COMPLICATED WOMEN: SEX AND POWER IN PRE-CODE HOLLYWOOD, DANGEROUS MEN: PRE-CODE HOLLYWOOD AND THE BIRTH OF THE MODERN MAN, and THE BEAUTY OF THE REAL: WHAT HOLLYWOOD CAN LEARN FROM CONTEMPORARY FRENCH ACTRESSES.  He teaches film at Stanford University, and has been a five time panelist at the Venice Film Festival.    







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