One of the most controversial of the pre-Code Hollywood films, 1933's Female
features Ruth Chatterton as Allison Drake, the president of a motor car company. By day, she runs the factory with an iron fist and business savvy. By night
, she invites male employees to her mansion and seduces them with the aid of vodka. Often, these men fail to separate business from pleasure the way she can, so she has to transfer them to "our Montreal office". This happens a lot.
But when she meets Jim Thorne, an engineer hired by Drake Auto to design an automatic gearshift, she starts having emotional feelings she's not prepared to deal with.
In 1933, the film was controversial for the All Women Are Lustful
, Really Gets Around
sexuality of Chatterton's character. A latter-day viewer is more likely to be disturbed by the ridiculously sexist, Badass Decay
ending—see entry under Chickification
was directed by Michael Curtiz
Tropes in this film:
- All Amazons Want Hercules: The film was marketed this way, especially in the trailer, which shows a woman's silhouette (presumably Allison's) kneeling before a man's (presumably Jim's) standing silhouette.
- All Women Are Lustful: Allison certainly is, and the friend that comes to visit her in the beginning also remarks on all the male eye candy around Allison's office.
- Best Her to Bed Her: Subverted, at least in the beginning. Allison claims to want a "real man", but this is clearly a desire for an equal, not a superior.
- But Liquor Is Quicker: One of Allison's standard moves when having men over for sex is summoning the butler with vodka to loosen them up. She is shocked when Thorne downs seven vodka shots and still wants to talk about the gearshift he's designing.
Allison: Doesn't vodka affect you at all?
- Chickification: A particularly extreme example. The final reels show Allison Drake as a changed woman, giving her company to Jim and proclaiming that she will stay home to have nine kids.
- Chick Flick: Averted. In the pre-Code era, there wasn't a distinction between "women's pictures" and "the movies", like there is now. Women were actually box office gold at that time.
- Distracted by the Luxury: A very interesting gender-flipped example. Allison herself is very wealthy and has a very decadent mansion, so she's not only used to luxury, she's more or less numb to it. It's the men she seduces who are distracted and drawn by the glamour; her assistant, Pettigrew even lampshades it at one point.
- Does Not Like Men: Averted. Allison likes men very much, but likes them decidedly less when they disappoint her by bringing their personal issues into the office.
- Double Standard: Allison remarks that she treats men just like men treat women.
- Gender Scoff:
Allison: I know for some women, men are a household necessity; myself, I'd rather have a canary.
- God Save Us from the Queen!: Subverted.
- Ice Queen: Allison's business persona.
- The Ingenue: Allison pretends to be this in order to seduce Jim. Imagine his surprise when he realized it was just an act.
- Naughty by Night: When she's at work, she's all business. When she's at home, she's getting laid.
- Never a Self-Made Woman: Technically how Allison got the company, though to her credit, she does a damn good job of running it.
- No Guy Wants an Amazon: Subverted. Allison switches gears between her business persona and her seductress persona, scrambling the men's perception of her.
- No Guy Wants to Be Chased: Jim Thorne pretty much spelled it out with "I'm a man, and I prefer to do my own hunting."
- Really Gets Around: Allison's active sex life is portrayed negatively.
- Reassigned to Antarctica: When one of her boy toys in the office starts getting too clingy, Allison sends him to the Montreal office.
- Sexy Backless Outfit: Allison wears one to her party, and another when she tries to seduce Jim.
- Streetwalker: Three sidewalk hookers get a laugh when Jim rejects Allison's first invitation for casual sex.
"Must be something wrong with your technique, dearie."
- TV Telephone Etiquette: Allison has a phone conversation in an early scene which helps underscore her characterization as a take-no-prisoners businesswoman. After saying, "No, tell him to make me a better offer", she hangs up the phone without saying goodbye.