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Feminism in the Crime Film Genre Throughout motion picture history women have experienced more transition in their roles as a result of changing societal norms than any other class At first both society and the movie industry preached that women should be dependent on men and remain in the home in order to guarantee stability in the community and the family As time passed and attitudes changed women were beginning to be depicted as strong willed independent minded characters who were eager to break away from convention The genre of the crime film represents such a change in the roles handed to women Two films that can be contrasted in order to support this view are The Public Enemy by William Wellman 1931 and Bonnie Clyde by Arthur Penn 1967 In The Public Enemy women are portrayed as naive andor objects of carnal pleasure by men In this period women were often categorized as mothers mistresses sisters or ladies Ma Powers played by Beryl Mercer the lead character Tom Powersplayed by James Cagney mother is easily fooled by Toms fake stories about where he get his money and doesnt believe that her baby boy could be a vile gangster At one point during prohibition when Tom brings home a barrel of beer she doesnt even question where he obtained it but rather takes a drink for herself Ma Powers is the prototypical mother of the 1930s She is blind to the ways of the world and doesnt see the danger of things even in regard to her own children She is a widow who does not work but is supported by her sons She is even blind to the fact that her sons hate one another Even though her Tom was sadistic killer and gangster she always welcomes him back lovingly with open arms At the end of the mov ie she gets a phone call saying that Tom will be coming home from the
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