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This is indeed a huge topic.  What you're really talking about is family
melodrama which can be approached by country, time-period, studio, generic-
blend, etc.  You need to narrow it down a bit.  You might start by reading
some great general books on the subject like Gledhill's HOME IS WHERE THE
HEART IS.  Good studies of 50's melodrama include Lang's work on Sirk,
Minnelli, et.al.  If I can toot my own horn, my book LIVING ROOM LECTURES
provides a thorough intro. of the genre, and then a detailed study of 50's
film and television examples (UT Press, next month).  Ann Kaplan's great
book on motherhood in film is a good source.  Literally, there is tons of
information on this -- as well as a lot of individual articles on ORDINARY
PEOPLE and more recent fare.  Good luck.  N. Leibman
 
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