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Journal of Popular Film & Television (2007) - A Caper of One's Own: Fantasy Female Liberation in 1960s Crime Comedy Film




Appreciated today only for the style of the early- and mid-1960s Hollywood studio product, the crime comedy film featured strong female roles that paralleled the collapse of the traditional female roles in the era's spy films. Influenced by Hitchcock's sexualized women and Audrey Hepburn's independent 1950s gamines, the female "caper" character of the 1960s signals a dislocation of women's roles brought on by a world caught between hedonism and political avowal. In this short-lived subgenre, larcenous-minded men are thwarted, mostly to their own advantage, in their attempt to force female accomplices and love interests into prescribed social behavior and appearance. The lack of an overt counterculture in these films has branded them "establishment" products, supposedly rife with the social and gender role conservatism they actually challenge and destabilize. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]