Download A Great Big Girl Like Me: The Films of Marie Dressler by Victoria Sturtevant PDF

By Victoria Sturtevant

In the 1st book-length learn of Marie Dressler, MGM's so much ecocnomic celeb within the early Nineteen Thirties, Victoria Sturtevant analyzes Dressler's use of her physique to problem Hollywood's criteria for top women. At 5 ft seven inches tall and 200 kilos, Dressler usually performed gruesome ducklings, outdated maids, doting moms, and imperious dowagers. besides the fact that, her physique, her fearless physicality, and her athletic slapstick exercises commanded the display. Sturtevant translates the meanings of Dressler's physique by way of her vaudeville profession, her transgressive illustration of an "unruly" but sexual physique in Emma and Christopher Bean, principles of the physique politic within the movies Politics and Prosperity, and Dressler as a mythic physique in Min and Bill and Tugboat Annie.

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The gags finally explode into the all-out chaos of the party at the mansion and the final chase to the pier. This structure of slowly escalating stunts mimics the melodrama’s inflationary sensational aesthetic. The sensationalism of melodrama is often based on the daredevil physicality of the star—Wallace Reid’s stunt driving, Pearl White’s leaping on and off of moving trains, or Tom Mix’s breakneck horsemanship. Dressler’s reckless physicality in Tillie’s Punctured Romance reproduces some of these same “wow” moments of the blood-and-thunder melodrama in ways that force the viewer to recognize the flexibility and power of her body, as well as its resilience.

In many ways, melodrama is a formal opposite of comedy, which requires that the spectator retain a kind of critical distance from the characters in order to laugh at their antics. Because melodrama is such a broad category, it is useful to read the parody Tillie’s Punctured Romance against the historically specific background of “sensational” or “blood-and-thunder” melodramas, popular in the 1910s. Like any genre, sensational melodramas were given to recognizable clichés, 18 • a gre at big girl like me like the mustachioed villain, the heroine tied to the railroad tracks, and the last-minute rescue.

The thread that binds these three processes is Dressler’s unruly body, exploding generic and narrative boundaries. ” This distortion of Kathleen Norris’ novel is without excuse either as art or amusement; its only explanation seems to be a deliberate purpose to travesty the Irish people and to discredit the Catholic Faith. —Press Release, National Catholic Welfare Conference News Service, July 25, 1927 Kathleen Norris’s short-story collection The Callahans is a sentimental, often mournful remembrance of two Irish families facing triumph and loss over the years.

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