Literature Film Quarterly (1991) - Women Watching Hitchcock
- book review: Women Watching Hitchcock
- author(s): Rebecca Abbott
- journal: Literature Film Quarterly (1991)
- issue: volume 19, issue 4, page 277
- journal ISSN: 0090-4260
- publisher: Salisbury University
- keywords: "The Women Who Knew Too Much" - by Tania Modleski, Alfred Hitchcock, Blackmail (1929), David O. Selznick, Frenzy (1972), Grace Kelly, James Stewart, Joan Fontaine, Laura Mulvey, Motion picture directors & producers, New York City, New York, Notorious (1946), Psycho (1960), Psychoanalysis, Raymond Bellour, Rear Window (1954), Rebecca (1940), Rebecca Abbott, Robin Wood, Screen (1975) - Visual pleasure and narrative cinema, Shadow of a Doubt (1943), Spellbound (1945), Susan Lurie, Suspicion (1941), Tania Modleski, Vertigo (1958), Women
Women Watching Hitchcock
Tania Modleski, The Women Who Knew Too Much: Hitchcock and Feminist Theory. New York and London: Methuen, 1988. 149 pp. $27.50 hardbound; $10.95 paperback.
The project at hand in Tania Modleski's book The Women Who Knew Too Much is to reveal a feminist perspective from within the work of Alfred Hitchcock, building upon recent feminist criticism by Theresa de Lauretis, Susan Lurie. Robin Wood, and others, which searches for a silver lining to Hitchcock's clouded view of women. Modleski's study directly opposes the structuralism of Raymond Bellour, wherein he finds all Hollywood films serving male oedipal themes as "machines for producing the couple." She also questions Laura Mulvey's highly influential essay "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema." which finds the female spectator of Hollywood films restricted to taking masochistic pleasure in the voyeuristic and fetishistic perspectives the male fantasy - which those films construct for (male) audiences. Instead, Modleski argues that Hitchcock's films reveal "a thoroughgoing ambivalence about femininity" (p. 3), a confusion which prevents them from being read simply as means of reasserting patriarchal dominance. In other words, Modleski finds that male authority is subtly questioned in Hitchcock's films, undercut by a clear, subversive message which gives women spectators a foothold from which to resist assimilation into patriarchal systems. Defining this feminist viewpoint is the task Modleski comes to grips with in The Women Who Knew Too Much. In contrast with Robin Wood, though, who defends Hitchcock's directorial authority even as he explains Hitchcock's subve...
Rebecca Abbott, Sacred Heart University