Movie Article

Career Girls

A new book examines movie posters of working women from Hollywood's golden age

Here we are after 20 years of serious feminism, and look how Hollywood insists on portraying working women: Publishing pro Glenn Close is a bunny-boiling maniac in Fatal Attraction, while the investment banker played by Sigourney Weaver in Working Girl is and idea-stealing, back-stabbing bitch. Some role models, huh? So, if you're waiting to see women with real jobs get their celluloid due, you'd be better off looking back at Hollywood's golden age. Remember Rosalind Russell as an ace reporter in His Girl Friday, or Kate Hepburn as a political columnist in Woman of the Year? Why, even B movies celebrated women in the workplace. Judges, pilots, and detectives are but a few of the professions featured in Career Girls, a collection of '30s through '50s movie posters selected by Michael Barson and reproduced as oversize postcars. (Barson's earlier postcard books include Lost, Lonely and Vicious and Born to Be Bad.) Of course, the exotic and the mundane are also well represented — revolutionaries and race-car drivers labor side by side with café hostesses, whose world is one ''where it's the man who pays and pays. . .or else!'' Sure the style is a little lurid, but at least these ''dames'' were portrayed as doing something, not just waiting around like the ''working girl'' in Pretty Woman for a Prince Charming to carry her off in a white limo.

Originally posted May 04, 1990 Published in issue #12 May 04, 1990 Order article reprints
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