Debra Johnson

Is this how rape was treated in the 50s & 60s?

9 posts in this topic

So I just finished watching two great movies from. "A Rage To Live" (1965) starring Suzanne Pleshette, Peter Graves and Ben Gazarro .  "No Down Payment" (1957) with Tony Randall and Joanne Woodward.  In BOTH movies....a rape occurs.

 

In one movie, the rape literally occurs within the first 15 minutes of the movie....nothing at all happens to the attacker and in fact the scene is written to make it seem like "the woman's MOUTH was saying no but her BODY was saying yes"  :(    In the second movie, a woman tells neighbors one of their mutual friends raped her the night before and it's like.....not THAT big of a deal.

 

Was rape REALLY treated this casually during this era?  :blink: 

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I would first direct you to a film about rape that was actually directed by a woman. The great actress Ida Lupino directed the film called Outrage in 1950.

Other films that are better known would be:

Anatomy of a Murder directed by Otto Preminger starring James Stewart and

Town Without Pity starring Kirk Douglas.


One film that is truly remarkable stars Carroll Baker and it's called
Something Wild, 1961; this is an independent film that is extraordinarily modern in scope.

I would check some of those films out before you come to any conclusions.

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I would first direct you to a film about rape that was actually directed by a woman. The great actress Ida Lupino directed the film called Outrage in 1950.

Other films that are better known would be:

Anatomy of a Murder directed by Otto Preminger starring James Stewart and

Town Without Pity starring Kirk Douglas.


One film that is truly remarkable stars Carroll Baker and it's called
Something Wild, 1961; this is an independent film that is extraordinarily modern in scope.

I would check some of those films out before you come to any conclusions.

Thanks will do.  But have you seen the two films I mentioned in the original post?  Do you agree that rape in both of these films was treated very cavalierly.....to say the least?

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I would first direct you to a film about rape that was actually directed by a woman. The great actress Ida Lupino directed the film called Outrage in 1950.

Other films that are better known would be:

Anatomy of a Murder directed by Otto Preminger starring James Stewart and

Town Without Pity starring Kirk Douglas.


One film that is truly remarkable stars Carroll Baker and it's called
Something Wild, 1961; this is an independent film that is extraordinarily modern in scope.

I would check some of those films out before you come to any conclusions.

 

Your original list of films also got me thinking about Anatomy of a Murder but in some ways the plot justifies the rape;  I.e. that a wife like that deserves to be raped and that the husband did commit murder (and therefore it wasn't justified homicide).   Yea, the husband is found not guilty but that is because of the sound legal defense by the Stewart character,  but to me the vibe given is that the husband did commit murder and it wasn't justified because the wife lead the other man on (ok that other man was presented as a creep and thus it could be said the film offers no straight forward view of what occurred that night).

 

I have always wondered how the film got away with using murder in the title instead of An Anatomy of a Killing.    

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Your original list of films also got me thinking about Anatomy of a Murder but in some ways the plot justifies the rape;  I.e. that a wife like that deserves to be raped and that the husband did commit murder (and therefore it wasn't justified homicide).   Yea, the husband is found not guilty but that is because of the sound legal defense by the Stewart character,  but to me the vibe given is that the husband did commit murder and it wasn't justified because the wife lead the other man on (ok that other man was presented as a creep and thus it could be said the film offers no straight forward view of what occurred that night).

 

I have always wondered how the film got away with using murder in the title instead of An Anatomy of a Killing.    

 

Well, that is the title of the book.  And it's a better title.

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Thanks will do.  But have you seen the two films I mentioned in the original post?  Do you agree that rape in both of these films was treated very cavalierly.....to say the least?

Yep, I agree. Anatomy of a Murder is another one in which a rape may not be treated as cavalierly, but the rape victim behaves more like somebody who ran over a stop sign by accident and needs an attorney (James Stewart) to help her with the insurance paperwork. I don't know if that was because, decades ago, stranger rape was more uncommon and thus there were just not that many people who knew how that would affect the victim's personality, or because people considered the woman to always be at fault in these matters, or maybe a little bit of both.

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Well, that is the title of the book.  And it's a better title.

 

Just saw this, and I agree Anatomy of a Murder is a better title and fits the plot better as well.   But by 'got away with' I meant, pass the Production Code censors.     The Code called for murders to be punished and of course the killer wasn't, and the only way for the producers to explain that to the censors would be by saying it wasn't murder.      

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Yep, I agree. Anatomy of a Murder is another one in which a rape may not be treated as cavalierly, but the rape victim behaves more like somebody who ran over a stop sign by accident and needs an attorney (James Stewart) to help her with the insurance paperwork. I don't know if that was because, decades ago, stranger rape was more uncommon and thus there were just not that many people who knew how that would affect the victim's personality, or because people considered the woman to always be at fault in these matters, or maybe a little bit of both.

 

In AOAM, the alleged rape victim doesn't need an attorney at all since she wasn't accused of any crimes.   Instead it was her husband that was accused of murder and needed an attorney.    In addition,  I say alleged rape victim because I don't see where the film fully confirms she was raped.   Instead the lawyer (Stewart) was able to create enough reasonable-doubt so that her husband wasn't convicted of murder.    This explains the wife's odd behavior.

 

Leaving in doubt if she was really rapped or not is key to the entire plot since it leaves in doubt if the husband's actions were justified or not.     In fact,  its not clear to me if the husband believes his wife.   Doesn't Stewart give off a vibe the entire film that he doesn't fully believe her?  

 

If it was 100% clear she was raped there would be no reason for a story;   I.e. Anatomy of a Justified Homicide just wouldn't work.   

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In AOAM, the alleged rape victim doesn't need an attorney at all since she wasn't accused of any crimes.   Instead it was her husband that was accused of murder and needed an attorney.    In addition,  I say alleged rape victim because I don't see where the film fully confirms she was raped.   Instead the lawyer (Stewart) was able to create enough reasonable-doubt so that her husband wasn't convicted of murder.    This explains the wife's odd behavior.

 

Leaving in doubt if she was really rapped or not is key to the entire plot since it leaves in doubt if the husband's actions were justified or not.     In fact,  its not clear to me if the husband believes his wife.   Doesn't Stewart give off a vibe the entire film that he doesn't fully believe her?  

 

If it was 100% clear she was raped there would be no reason for a story;   I.e. Anatomy of a Justified Homicide just wouldn't work.   

 

Yes, but as Stewart explains, it isn't justified homicide; he had to be crazy at the time.  I always thought Remick was raped because she had bruises ("all over" as she tells Stewart) so I don't think it was consensual sex.

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