Hollywood's Boys Club Still Intact
Updated: Jul 2, 2019
Film has always been an area where creativity can run wild and, in the past, exploration was encouraged, especially in young, edgy directors who wanted to break out of the box. All of us benefitted from the sudden burst of the New Wave we saw during the 50s and 60s and foreign films began to outpace American cinema in its willingness to utilize new camera techniques, original themes and not pretty boy and girl leads.
Who could honestly say that Jean-Paul Belmondo was the epitome of male attractiveness? True they teamed him with Jean Seberg in
the 1960 film, "Breathless." But he would lead the way for actors such as Brando who refused to have a broken nose repaired because he believed it gave him a look of character. Simone Signoret oozed sensuality in her not-overly-thin body. Give the woman a cigarette and the fantasy began.
But, you might say, these were all actors who were guided in this breakthrough film genre by outstanding directors. Ask yourself one other question; what was the gender of all those directors? Women directors may have made an important mark on American film long before these men were out of diapers, but film was now a boys' club, no women need apply.
To quote a tired theme from a cigarette commercial, "You've come a long way, baby" may have been heralded when Kathryn Bigelow broke the new glass ceiling and won an oscar for Best
Picture for The Hurt Locker. But did Ida Lupino ever win this type of accolade for his film noir of the 50s? She was the only woman in the Hollywood film studios to make it as a director. No, she didn't win an Oscar. A woman in a man's field was an anomaly, not a respected director who would continue receiving support from the studios.
Alice Guy-Blache had beaten D. W. Griffith in her films made in between 1896 and 1906, some where she experimented with tinting the films prior to the advent of color film or Technicolor. SHE headed her own studio. What happened?
Women, even Kathryn Bigelow, have been pushed aside for years, but this year is the worst of all in terms of awards. For all the box-office hit films created by women directors, none of them have been nominated for the Golden Globes. Of course, perhaps we shouldn't give this award much credence since it was always seen as a give-away award to please the Foreign Press Association. Some see this award as irrelevant and that it doesn't truly indicate an award for outstanding film achievements. Rather, it is an award for outstanding PR efforts and subtle payoffs on the part of studios.
A quick review of the revenues generated by women-directed films
in 2017 should serve as a wake-up call in Tinseltown, but will it? Why wasn't the director, Patty Jenkins, of "Wonder Woman" which grossed over $800M this past summer named? Dee Rees directed "Mudbound," which received critical acclaim, but her name is missing.
Variety indicated that, "The only female director to have won a Golden Globe is Barbra Streisand, for “Yentl” in 1984." Thirty-three years ago? Is that possible? And why was that? Didn't Streisand also direct other films such as "The Mirror Has Two Faces," and "The Prince of Tides?"
Women are still trying to join the ranks of major directors, but if the inherent bias that has existed for decades remains, how can they? Is the Foreign Press Association a group that expresses its outright anti-feminist bias in these director selections? You could say that, but you'd also have to consider that in other years women have been nominated BUT NOT THIS YEAR.
In a year when sexually inappropriate behavior has become a rallying cry across the world for women to support each other and demand equality, has this club decided to punish women directors? You decide.