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The French Screen Goddess: Film Stardom and the Modern Woman in 1930s France

The French Screen Goddess: Film Stardom and the Modern Woman in 1930s France
Jonathan Driskell

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Many years before Brigitte Bardot and Catherine Deneuve rose to fame, the French cinema produced a host of glamorous female stars designed to rival their Hollywood counterparts. Bathed in soft light, discussed adoringly in fan magazines and shown wearing the latest fashions, these 'cinematic stars' emerged in opposition to France's traditional stage-based stardom, while remaining, through the roles they played and the looks they sported, a distinctly French phenomenon. The French Screen Goddess examines how these stars influenced the narratives and look of their films, contributed to defining the period's new, emancipated femininity -, the 'modern woman' -, and related to the decade's politics, particularly the Popular Front of the mid-1930s. The book focuses on the three most important examples of this type of stardom, Annabella, Danielle Darrieux and Michele Morgan, while also considering many other key stars, such as Arletty, Viviane Romance and Jean Gabin.

Previously neglected films are considered and true classics of French cinema re-examined, with Rene Clair's Quatorze juillet, Julien Duvivier's La Bandera, and Marcel Carne's Le Quai des brumes and Hotel du Nord foremost among these.

Author Info

Jonathan Driskell is Lecturer in Film and Television Studies at Monash University Sunwaycampus, Malaysia. He is the author of Marcel Carne (2012).


'This is a succinct and well-organised analysis of female stardom in the 1930s, focusing on Annabella, Danielle Darrieux and Michèle Morgan. Jonathan Driskell uses the basic tools of star studies as established by Richard Dyer and Ginette Vincendeau deftly to advantage in teasing out the similarities and differences between the three stars... The major arguments of the book are clearly stated, and...summarized in the excellent and pithy conclusion.'
Professor Phil Powrie, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Human Sciences, University of Surrey, Chair of the British Association for Film, Television and Screen Studies and Chief General Editor of Studies in French Cinema

'This well-written, useful book… is particularly valuable in its reassessment of canonical 1930s films through comparing them to other, less well-known, but equally as intriguing and telling films such as Club de femmes or Anna-Marie. It also challenges an ideal of French 1930s cinema located in a masculine imaginary, demonstrating the importance of ideas about modern femininity and particularly the Front Populaire’s contribution to changing ideas about gender roles.'
Dr Fiona Handyside, Senior Lecturer, University of Exeter

Bibliographic Info

Imprint: I.B.Tauris
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co. Ltd.
Series: International Library of the Moving Image

ISBN: 9781780767000
Publication Date: 30 Jan 2015
Number of Pages: 256
Height: 234
Width: 156
Illustrations: 25 bw integrated

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