We saw such an interesting movie the other night. Female
, starring Ruth Chatterton, is a pre-code movie
. This means that it’s shocking, sassy and salacious! This, in fact, means that it was made before the enforcement of the “Hays Code,” a set of strict rules imposed upon the film industry in the early 1930s. These rules determined what you could show in a film and what you could say in a film, of course, but I find it fascinating that they also controlled the plot of a film. You could get away with showing a “bad girl” or a “fallen woman” if she was punished by the plot – if her immoral actions resulted in death or redemption (and marriage). I love to watch post-code movies and see the way that humanity, in all of its imbalance and immorality, seeps through the cracks in the plot, to watch for moments when it’s obvious that the outcome of the film has nothing to do with the characters in the film, with their desires or fears. (Watch Some Like it Hot, and remember that “the code” discouraged the depiction of gay characters.) Female (1933) is something of a cusp film – the code had been introduced, but not yet strictly enforced. It tells the story of Alison Drake, the boss of a large auto plant, who long ago decided to “travel the same open road that men travel,” and to treat men exactly as they’ve treated women all of these years. And so she does! She has brief affairs with any young thing that catches her eye at the office, and she forms no emotional attachment and expects that they’ll do the same. In the end, of course, she’s tamed by a strong “alpha male” who looks alarmingly like Ronald Reagan. And so, in a sense, it could be a post-code movie, despite all of the innuendo and her shocking behavior throughout, because she’s redeemed by marriage. But the film struggles against this tidy ending. For one thing, it’s very funny throughout, and when she declares her decision to leave her company to her future husband and to have at least nine children, it comes across almost as another joke. And the humor is so clever and satirical. The show Mad Men got a lot of attention for showing how degradingly women were treated at a certain time, especially in the work place. Alison Drake turns that world on its head, but with such honesty and good nature that we almost take her side, though she’s using and abusing all the handsome boys at the office. The film raises questions, but it doesn’t make simple judgments about the characters or their actions. For instance, throughout the film it becomes obvious that Alison Drake’s servants like her very much. They talk to her like an equal, and they take an interest in her life – the chauffeur goes so far as to fight for her honor in response to a slur on her character. This makes her seem like a real, human character, and one who cannot be penned in by a simplistic Hollywood ending. She’s told to be softer and more feminine to snag her man, and she tries this approach, but with an unmistakable smile on her face the whole time. Oh those naive days of yore, when women thought it would be clever to pretend to be something they’re not to get themselves married. Thank heavens we’ve grown beyond that, as a society. But wait, what’s this? On the Fox news website recently
, and written by a woman
! Advice that women should be softer and more feminine if they’d like to get themselves married! I won’t give it any more attention than it deserves, especially since Stephen Colbert has pretty much said all that there is to say
So…nutella cookies!! They’re like nutella because they’re made with cocoa powder and hazelnuts, and they have nutella mixed into the batter! They’re like nutella because they’re delicious and addictive! They’re crispy-outside-soft-inside-chocolatey-nutty-melty-pleasantly-plump-and-weighty. And they’re fun and easy to make.
Here’s The Carter Family with Single Girl, Married Girl. Surely one of the first feminist anthems, and from such an unlikely source.
1 stick butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 t vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup coarsely ground or chopped hazelnuts
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 t salt
1/3 cup nutella
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (optional, but everything’s better with chocolate chips!!)
Preheat the oven to 350. Cream the butter and sugar together and beat till fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Add all of the dry ingredients and stir till you have a stiff batter. Mix in the nutella – don’t worry if it’s not fully incorporated, it’s nice when it’s streaky, too. Work in the chocolate chips.
Lightly butter two baking sheets. Pull off a tiny piece of batter – like a large (1/2 inch) marble, and roll it into a ball. Place on the baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the batter.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes till they feel firmish to the touch.