Woman's Pictures

The term "woman's pictures" potentially embraces all films—made anywhere in the world, and throughout the history of cinema—that are about, or are made by, or consumed by, women. In practice, however, in its most common usage, the meaning of the term is much narrower than this, referencing a subtype of the film melodrama whose plot is organized around the perspective of a female character and which addresses a female spectator through thematic concerns socially and culturally coded as "feminine." A considerable and influential body of film history, theory, and criticism has grown up around a highly distinctive manifestation of this genre: a group of pictures produced in Hollywood during its "classical" era, the heyday of the studio system between the mid-1930s and the mid-1950s. In their time, these films were dubbed "women's weepies" and "three-handkerchief movies," a not-very-subtle derogation of their tearjerking qualities and of the gender of their audiences.

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