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June 1996, Week 3


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Donald Larsson <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 17 Jun 1996 09:56:22 -0600
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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Gloria Monti inquires:
"films that present the female lead through an indexical
representation (obviously beyond the indexical representation of film
itself), or an iconic one, prior to her entrance onscreen.
        Examples: Jacqueline Bisset in *La Nuite Americaine,* Lena Horne
in *Broadway Rhythm,* and Marlene Dietrich in *The Flame of New Orleans* (?)."
The most obvious one that comes to mind is LAURA.
The Liv Ullmann character in PERSONA is first seen in a flashback.
Jeanne Moreau first appears (sort of) as a statue in JULES AND JIM.
Keaton's girlfriend Annabelle is first seen in a photo in THE GENERAL.
All the lead characters of BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID are first
seen in a sepia-tint photo at the beginning of the film, if memory serves.
The initial representations of both Delores Costello and Anne Baxter in
THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS *might* be seen as iconic flashbacks (but what's
the actual source of the memories?)
I don't remember whether the Simon Simone character in CURSE OF THE CAT
PEOPLE is first represented indexically, although she is alluded to verbally
as the character from the original CAT PEOPLE film.
I believe it is in LE BETE HUMAINE that Simone is referred to as being
cat-like while she holds a cat in her arms--and we see the cat first as
the comparison is made.
Another obvious example of indexing--not the leading actress, but perhaps
the most important woman in the film--REBECCA!
Ditto Ma Bates in PSYCHO!
Vanessa Redgrave's "Max" in the new MISSION IMPOSSIBLE is represented before
being seen.
Fritz Lang's THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW is another example of iconic representation
before the fact (I think--it's been a while).
I believe that Todd Browning's FREAKS opens with shots of people gazing in
horror at the female lead--who won't be seen as "one of us" until the end.
In REAR WINDOW, Grace Kelly is first seen as a photo on a magazine cover--and
as a negative in a frame.
Imamura's INSECT WOMAN opens with a shot of an insect struggling up a tree
--but that's more of a symbol than an index as such.
PORTRAIT OF JENNIE speaks for itself.
Celeste Holme in LETTER TO THREE WIVES is represented only by her voice and
indexical objects.
In KLUTE, Jane Fonda is first known as a voice and a tape recorder.
Although I'm not sure of these, you might also think about biopics that
open with statues or other representations (NURSE EDITH CAVELL?  MADAME
CURIE?), musicals (COVER GIRL? FUNNY FACE?), and other films noirs.
Hope these help.
Don Larsson, Mankato State U (MN)
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