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Why "A Woman's Picture"?

When I was a child in Brooklyn, New York, we went “to the pictures,” not “to the movies.”

Double features were the norm, and most local theaters had repertory programming. On Saturday afternoons, our own “Happy Hour” screened cartoons, followed by silent comedy shorts or Disney movies. One weeknight was devoted to double-features of movies from the 1930s and 1940s, mostly John Ford Westerns (always with a significant female character), and what were then called “tear jerkers” or “women’s pictures,” that starred Joan Crawford, Bette Davis and Katherine Hepburn. It was through John Ford, not my history classes, that I learned women settled the West. And it was by watching “women’s pictures” that I envisioned the woman I might become.

This website is devoted entirely to “women’s pictures.” Each month it will feature a new long-form review of a film by a female director or writer-director. It represents my effort to call attention to the dearth of serious consideration given to women’s pictures. According to the Annenberg Equity Project's 2017 report, the gender of the reviewer matters. White male film critics reviewed 78.7% of the top 300 movie reviews in the period between 2105-2017, vastly outnumbering female critics who wrote 21.3%, and female critics from underrepresented groups, 16.8%. White males also vastly outnumber women in editorial positions; editors determine which movies receive coverage, as well as who will write that coverage.

First and foremost, a film critic's task is to foster an understanding of the cinematic art form. I hope visitors to this website will gain an appreciation for the unique gaze of a “woman's picture”—and the differing perspectives that a female critic brings to that work.  

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