For years, critics have contended that Hollywood films leave a lot to be desired when it comes to female representation. Analyses such as the Bechdel test suggest that too often the male-dominated screenwriting world puts women in passive, one-dimensional roles.
But even as early as the 1940s, some filmmakers were breaking those stereotypes of powerlessness by casting women as fighters, geniuses and breadwinners. From the single mother in the 1945 film “Mildred Pierce” who opens her own business to the Wakandan warriors in the recent “Black Panther,” female characters have stolen the show in a wide variety of genres and settings.
Host Frank Stasio talks with Marsha Gordon, film professor at North Carolina State University, and Laura Boyes, film curator at the North Carolina Museum of Art, about listeners’ favorite films that feature strong female leads.