Violence In Screwball Films Essay

1172 WordsMay 30, 20115 Pages
Kristen Calvert Critical Paper 1 Surely the best way to resolve an argument with one’s spouse is to give them a good sock in the jaw, right? Romantic comedies usually do not include violence in the plot considering the genre is composed of humorous love stories however; screwball comedies, a subgenre of romantic comedy, often do have instances of violence. Whether this violence is significant or not is generally not discussed among critics because it is not the main message of these films, but the use of violence in Frank Capra’s It Happened One Night (1934) was examined in more depth by Linda Mizejewski, author of “Rules and Unruliness: Romantic Comedy”. Mizejewski interprets the use of violence in this particular film as a disturbing overtone, threatening to women. In my opinion, Capra’s employment of violence provides an element of realism and is a constituent of a masculine gender role. In this paper I will discuss the significance of violence in It Happened One Night by evaluating the prevalence of domestic violence in the 1930’s, the supposed need for violence in relationships, and violence as an indicator of masculine dominance. To understand violence in the context of the film, the historical background needs to be considered. It Happened One Night hit the big screen in 1934, right in the middle of the Great Depression. In a decade dominated by the greatest economic crisis in the history of the country, a spike in domestic violence was observed. Hard times wreaked havoc in family life during this period. Unemployment rates reached overwhelming levels and the lack of resources caused much stress, depression, and even suicide among Americans. The stress and devastation felt by many resulted in abuse in the home. Hunger, unemployment, and domestic violence were commonplace during the 1930’s and it’s no coincidence that they were depicted in It Happened One

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