Open Access (free)
Woman in a Dressing Gown
Melanie Williams

Stephen Frears's response to Woman in a Dressing Gown seems laughably inappropriate. Woman in a Dressing Gown is a drama that counterpoints two different kinds of women: if Georgie is the ideal of 1950s femininity, serene, sexually attractive and 'mature', then Amy Preston is its unacceptable face, scatty, scruffy and loud. The most useful touchstone for approaching Woman in a Dressing Gown as a 'proto-feminist' film is Betty Friedan's groundbreaking study of the disparity between the happy housewife image and the malaise and misery that lies beneath it, The Feminine Mystique. The Feminine Mystique often discusses and illuminates exactly the same problems that Woman in a Dressing Gown indirectly hints at or alludes to, through its presentation of the character of Amy. Throughout Woman in a Dressing Gown melodramatic tropes such as the use of lachrymose music are important.

in British cinema of the 1950s
Melanie Williams

Jean-Luc Godard remarked that all you need to make a film is 'a girl and a gun' and the opening sequence of Yield to the Night looks like a textbook illustration of his axiom. Yield to the Night is often mentioned in connection with the contemporary case of Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged in Britain. The film is far from being a straightforward statement of social protest on the part of its makers, which is partly due to the casting of Diana Dors, a notorious and flamboyant British film personality of the 1950s, in the role of Mary Hilton. The realism of the film is a subjective, psychological realism, suggesting the strange and fearful state of mind of the person who knows she will die in a matter of days.

in British cinema of the 1950s