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

By Victoria Sturtevant

ISBN-10: 0252076222

ISBN-13: 9780252076220

In the 1st book-length examine of Marie Dressler, MGM's so much ecocnomic superstar within the early Thirties, Victoria Sturtevant analyzes Dressler's use of her physique to problem Hollywood's criteria for major girls. At 5 ft seven inches tall and 2 hundred kilos, Dressler usually performed gruesome ducklings, previous maids, doting moms, and imperious dowagers. notwithstanding, her physique, her fearless physicality, and her athletic slapstick exercises commanded the reveal. Sturtevant translates the meanings of Dressler's physique through her vaudeville profession, her transgressive illustration of an "unruly" but sexual physique in Emma and Christopher Bean, rules of the physique politic within the motion pictures Politics and Prosperity, and Dressler as a mythic physique in Min and Bill and Tugboat Annie.

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Extra resources for A Great Big Girl Like Me: The Films of Marie Dressler

Sample text

From the drunken dance in Tillie’s Punctured Romance, her first film, to the drunken dance in Tugboat Annie, filmed the year before her death, few of her movies bypassed the opportunity to showcase this specialty. Dressler’s performance of intoxication is always a spectacle of the body in ecstasy: face muscles slackening, balance lost, powerful big body reduced to lurching around, giggling, hiccupping, and pratfalls—the whole bag of comedian’s tricks. It is a demonstration of perfect physical control (Dressler’s) communicating the loss of control (the character’s).

Thinking her beloved is dead, she joins a convent, only to discover he is alive. Alas! She cannot bring herself to break her vows (The White Sister, MGM, 1933). Or she kills herself in a spectacular airplane crash in order not to burden her married lover with her illegitimate unborn child (Christopher Strong, RKO, 1933). An impossible choice or terribly necessary (if terribly contrived) sacrifice ratchets up the emotional register of the film. Moral polarization is present in the way characters suffer for their wrongdoings.

Friend, the petite, sophisticated Mabel (Normand). When Tillie cannot pay the bill, she is hauled off to jail. The thieves spend the loot on fancy new duds and a picture show, but when Charlie notices in the newspaper that Tillie’s rich uncle has fallen off a mountain during a ski trip, bequeathing all his money to his niece, he leaves Mabel flat. He finds Tillie working as a waitress at the same café where he left her and marries her before she learns of her good fortune. When the inheritance arrives, the couple move into the uncle’s mansion and throw a lavish party, which Mabel crashes in the guise of a maid.

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


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