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A Woman's Place in This Thing of Ours: Why there are no women bosses in American gangster films

Larke-Walsh, George S. and Oliver, Stephanie (2019) A Woman's Place in This Thing of Ours: Why there are no women bosses in American gangster films. Senses of Cinema, 91. ISSN 1443-4059

Item Type: Article


The ever-present call for Hollywood to deliver a more diverse range of protagonists has been answered in recent years with some significant developments. Female superheroes, cops, criminals and combat soldiers are peppering modern American cinema in high-profile films such as Wonder Woman (Patty Jenkins, 2017) and Captain Marvel (Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, 2019). Concurrently, the #MeToo movement has increased scrutiny on casting and narrative decisions with a push for more female involvement across all media and social spheres. As a result, some areas of the science fiction and superhero genre, with their focus on non-realist or post-civilised worlds, have embraced more progressive female representation. However, in comparison, realist genres still often struggle to provide leading roles for women. Along with the Western, the American gangster film is one of the least progressive genres of the modern era in terms of female agency and representation, and as a consequence the representation of la cosa nostra (‘this thing of ours’) in cinema remains steadfastly male. This article explores the reasons behind this continued gender bias by examining the film genre’s deep-rooted connection to pure capitalism, an ideology solidified in America in the 1950s, mythologised in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather (1972) and reinforced in countless gangster films since. It will argue that while cinema remains limited, there is hope for women gangsters in recent developments in television serials. Modern television’s more complex and expansive narratives have proven themselves equipped to break the genre’s connection to pure capitalism and able to explore the more disruptive influence of neoliberal ideologies. In consequence, this article will argue that television provides the more appropriate structure for women to establish central roles in the gangster genre.

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Depositing User: George Larke-Walsh


Item ID: 12995
ISSN: 1443-4059
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Date Deposited: 12 Jan 2021 14:48
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2021 14:48


Author: George S. Larke-Walsh
Author: Stephanie Oliver

University Divisions

Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries


Media > Cinema and Film
Media > Film
Media > Media and Cultural Studies

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