A Great Big Girl Like Me: The Films of Marie Dressler by Victoria Sturtevant

By Victoria Sturtevant

In the 1st book-length learn of Marie Dressler, MGM's so much ecocnomic celebrity within the early Thirties, Victoria Sturtevant analyzes Dressler's use of her physique to problem Hollywood's criteria for top girls. At 5 ft seven inches tall and 2 hundred kilos, Dressler usually performed gruesome ducklings, previous maids, doting moms, and imperious dowagers. although, her physique, her fearless physicality, and her athletic slapstick exercises commanded the display. Sturtevant translates the meanings of Dressler's physique by way of taking a look at her vaudeville profession, her transgressive illustration of an "unruly" but sexual physique in Emma and Christopher Bean, rules of the physique politic within the motion pictures Politics and Prosperity, and Dressler as a mythic physique in Min and Bill and Tugboat Annie.

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Extra info for A Great Big Girl Like Me: The Films of Marie Dressler

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Moral polarization is overturned in the constant oscillation between victim and villain that structures the film. The film begins with Tillie knocking Charlie on the head with a heavy wooden block; he is the first victim of violence. But when he decides to take her money, he turns to the camera and tillie ’ s punctured romance • 23 gestures his evil intent in the hackneyed style of the melodramatic villain, plucking at his bow tie and twiddling his fingers greedily. Thereafter he spends much of the film dodging blows from his intended victim.

Her spine is straight, her shoulders back, and her gaze is directed commandingly down her nose and into the middle distance. Both Dresslers look like they might burst out laughing at any moment. This photo neatly sums up the duality of Dressler’s persona, which in bre aking boundaries • 31 Figure 5. Supporting roles placed Dressler on the margins of the narrative—lofty characters or outcasts. MGM publicity photo, 1930. the early years was separated into very high and very low characters, but in her starring years merged into one figure.

The thread that binds these three processes is Dressler’s unruly body, exploding generic and narrative boundaries. ” This distortion of Kathleen Norris’ novel is without excuse either as art or amusement; its only explanation seems to be a deliberate purpose to travesty the Irish people and to discredit the Catholic Faith. —Press Release, National Catholic Welfare Conference News Service, July 25, 1927 Kathleen Norris’s short-story collection The Callahans is a sentimental, often mournful remembrance of two Irish families facing triumph and loss over the years.

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