Name: Yijing Shen(Vicky)
Institution: Arts and business
Course: Arts 1062
Tutor: Rodney Wallis
In her essay “Mildred Pierce and the second World War” Linda Williams argues that the film “reflects and represents the contradictions of its historical moment” (p.21). She develops this point over the following pages and writes on p.25:
[like] the wartime and post-war gothics, Mildred Pierce is better able to reflect the problems encountered by women under patriarchal rule precisely because it does not reflect the specific historical conditions that made this criticism possible in the first place.
Through a close reading and analysis of Williams’s essay and other scholarship on the film, and making reference to scenes and themes in the film, explain and analyze Williams’s argument.
Mildred Pierce, directed by Michael Curtis and starring Joan Crawford, Ann Blyth, Zachary Scott and Bruce Bennet, is a film often cited as noir, and has been a subject of many feminist critiques. The historical situation of the film’s showing, 1945, is cited by such feminist critiques as a manifestation of the film’s relationship and engagement with the eventual emergence of feminist movements in the 1960s and 1970s1. World War II was an event that saw a large portion of the American male population being shipped off to fight in Europe, leaving industries in the United States lacking in labor. Women had to replace men in this regard, which caused a social transformation that saw women gaining economic and social power. Such power was short-lived, however, as at the end of the war, men began coming home, and the patriarchal order had to be reestablished and women needed to assume their former, “traditional” roles back in the household. This historical and social transformation had basically allowed women to recognize their oppressed state in the traditional family unit, having experienced what it is like to work and to gain