Sunday, February 05, 2006

Betty Friedan vs. Glenn Ford

This is like my fifteenth post about one line from one movie, but the death of Betty Friedan once again got me thinking of my least-favourite movie line of all time, from the movie The Courtship of Eddie's Father. I wrote about this recently in my post about why I like feminist movies and TV shows, but to repeat myself: Dina Merrill tells Glenn Ford that she wants to be defined as an individual, by her own work and accomplishments, instead of defining her life by her relationship to a husband or children; Glenn Ford scoffs: "You'll have to be satisfied with the vote; I don't think it'll ever become a national movement." This line is a perfect combination of several different kinds of wrongness: morally wrong, wrong in the context of the scene, and completely wrong as prognostication.

But what Friedan's death reminded me of is this: The Courtship of Eddie's Father came out early in 1963, meaning it was filmed in 1962. The same year it came out -- probably in the summer -- Friedan's book The Feminine Mystique was published. That means that Ford's line was not only wrong in predicting the future, but it was instantly proven wrong: the movie predicted that feminism would never become a national movement the same year that a book came out that kick-started feminism as a national movement. So it's sort of the highest level of wrongness that one line from a movie can attain.

It's also a reminder (the whole movie is a reminder, actually) of why that book was necessary.

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