Synopses & Reviews
and#147;Studlar's work in Precocious Charms
is especially remarkable considering the scope of film and femininity she has presented. Touching on questions of the youthful female, sexuality, pleasure and disavowal, the book is a fresh approach to studying the characteristics of these celebrated actresses and films.and#8221; and#151;Lucy Fischer, Distinguished Professor of Film Studies and English, University of Pittsburgh
and#147;Going far beyond the hackneyed and#145;images ofand#8217; writing on movie stars we have seen so much of in the past, Gaylyn Studlar's Precocious Charms makes a major contribution to our understanding of how Hollywood works by enabling us to understand the complicated way in which stars function within culture.and#8221; and#151;Virginia Wright Wexman, author of Creating The Couple: Love, Marriage, And Hollywood Performance
"Gaylyn Studlarand#8217;s study of young female actors is an eye-opening and provocative revisitation of stars that long have been revered by fans and analyzed by film scholars. Thanks to the close analyses of these films that have also marked her previous scholarship, Precocious Charms will be at home on the bookshelf of anyone interested in the vicissitudes of Hollywoodand#8217;s performances of adolescence, gender, and sexuality." and#151;Donald Crafton, Joseph and Elizabeth Robbie Professor of Film, Television, and Theatre, University of Notre Dame
"Lushly illustrated and compellingly written, this fascinating, timely book will easily suit both academic and general readers."
In Precocious Charms, Gaylyn Studlar examines how Hollywood defined and constructed female stars as especially young--as juvenated--during its long half century as the most influential and popular media influence on America's cultural imagination. Precocious Charms is about stars and their films but also about the aesthetic, cultural, discursive, ideological, industrial, and psychological processes that led to the varied construction of juvenated femininity in six female star personas: Mary Pickford, Shirley Temple, Deanna Durbin, Elizabeth Taylor, Jennifer Jones, and Audrey Hepburn. Child stars are part of this study, but so too are adult actresses who created motion picture masquerades of youthfulness. This study reveals the unexpected intersections between American film and culture, from nineteenth century sentimental art to New Look haute couture fashion, children's literature to the impact of psychoanalysis, Victorian domestic family rituals to radio comedy. To consider juvenated femininity is to look at how classic Hollywood cinema constructed gender and sexuality beyond the general category of "woman," leading to a new understanding of how Hollywood spoke to and created pleasures for its audiences from the 1910s into the 1960s.
In Precocious Charms, Gaylyn Studlar examines how Hollywood presented female stars as young girls or girls on the verge of becoming women. Child stars are part of this study but so too are adult actresses who created motion picture masquerades of youthfulness. Studlar details how Mary Pickford, Shirley Temple, Deanna Durbin, Elizabeth Taylor, Jennifer Jones, and Audrey Hepburn performed girlhood in their films. She charts the multifaceted processes that linked their juvenated star personas to a wide variety of cultural influences, ranging from Victorian sentimental art to New Look fashion, from nineteenth-century childrenand#8217;s literature to post-World War II sexology, and from grand opera to 1930s radio comedy. By moving beyond the general category of and#147;woman,and#8221; Precocious Charms leads to a new understanding of the complex pleasures Hollywood created for its audience during the half century when film stars were a major influence on Americaand#8217;s cultural imagination.
About the Author
Gaylyn Studlar is David May Distinguished Professor in the Humanities at Washington University in St. Louis. She is the author of This Mad Masquerade: Stardom and Masculinity in the Jazz Age and In the Realm of Pleasure: Von Sternberg, Dietrich, and the Masochistic Aesthetic. She has co-edited four anthologies: John Ford Made Westerns, Visions of the East, Reflections in a Male Eye, John Huston and the American Experience, and Titanic: Anatomy of a Blockbuster.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
1. Oh, and#147;Doll Divineand#8221;: Mary Pickford, Masquerade, and the Pedophilic Gaze
2. Cosseting the Nation; or, How to Conquer Fear Itself with Shirley Temple
3. and#147;The Little Girl with the Big Voiceand#8221;: Deanna Durbin and Sonic Womanliness
4. Velvetand#8217;s Cherry: Elizabeth Taylor and Virginal English Girlhood
5. Perilous Transition: Jennifer Jones as Melodramaand#8217;s Hysterical Adolescent
6. and#147;Chi-Chi Cinderellaand#8221;: Audrey Hepburn as Couture Countermodel