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June 1996, Week 1


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"Steven M. Blacher" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 4 Jun 1996 22:32:01 -0700
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In article <[log in to unmask]>, "Edward R. O'Neill"
<[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>         If you look back at newspapers from the time *Ishtar* came out,
> you'll see there was a huge deal made in the press made about how much money
> was spent on the film, and on how the cost overruns could be attributed to
> the perfectionism and/or neurosis of director Elaine May.  The same kinds of
> criticism can be made when a male director has cost overruns, but it seems
> to me there was more than a grain of hostility towards a woman director
> involved.  (Think of how the same kinds of criticism about "perfectionism"
> are aimed at Streisand.)
Well, for the record, the same charge of "perfectionism" was made against
Steven Spielberg on "1942," with equal glee, I think.  It's not that the
charge "can" be made against a male director; it has been. Spielberg's
reaction, interestingly, was to agree and promise to mend his ways (in
interviews he gave as he was directing the first of the Indiana Jones
Penny Marshall is equally a perfectionist - actors will talk about the
endless number of takes she demands on the set of her films - yet has been
immune from the sort of press attack that you describe.
I suspect that you may be right that this sort of attack may, if one were
to examine all the examples of it, does sometimes partake of an extra
"grain of hostility" towards a woman director; women executives in the
film business are often criticized for behaving in ways for which their
male counterparts are praised, though the attack is about the
demonstrative exercise of power, and I wonder if that might not be the
tone you are picking up in the attacks you mention.  After all, the
genesis of this sort of press attack on directors for overperfectionism
does  have a long tradition that begins with attacking a male - Erich von
Steven M. Blacher  /  Wellfleet Productions
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