Thursday, January 10, 2008

"The Long Kiss Goodnight"

This was a funny film for all the wrong reasons.

On the issue of race and gender, this film deals with both. Charley Baltimore (Geena Davis) is the clear lead role in this film. Mitch Hennessy (Samuel Jackson) is her sidekick. He has the funny punchlines, the sketchy back story, and he helps save the day in the end (why was he in a car in the back of a truck?). He has all the makings of a classic sidekick.

Racism in this film was dealt with, but only by Samuel Jackson. He makes comments about his race, such as when Charley tries to make out with him and he says something about the rich white woman wanting to fraternize with the black help. He makes the audience aware of his race, but no one else in the film says anything about it.

I think Guerrero would have a field day with this film because Mitch is a very stereotypical "bad" black man. He drinks, he smokes, and he has been known to steal. He is, in a way, reformed when he begins to work with Charley. Guerrero would inevitably have something to say about the fact that the black man becomes submissive to the white woman.

Their are potential issues with gender as well. Charley is a woman and the lead role in this film. She shoots guns, gets shot at, throws knives, and does many things men typically do in cop films. However, as Charley begins to do these "manly" things, she herself becomes more manly. She cuts her hair short and stops wearing the long skirts she wore for most of the film. Her name is even a typical male name. It is as if a woman cannot be the leading, fighting character in a cop film without being slightly portrayed as a man.

Overall, the film was really ridiculous, but the relationship between Mitch and Charley is very interesting to analyze. There is no way this movie would have been the same if there was a black woman as Charley and a white man as Mitch. Has there ever been an action film like this with a black woman in the female lead? I would be interested to know.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really enjoy your connection between her role as a woman and her personification of a man by changing her appearance to look more like a male. I never would have thought about that. The thing about race is true as well, and Samuel L. stands out so much more in the movie because he is the only black man in the entire film. Which guerrero might talk about as well.

4:54 PM  
Blogger Vladigogo said...

Look back at the torture scene and look at her shoulders and biceps. She is masculine, albeit wearing a wet undershirt and bra, but still masculine.

As for an action film with a black woman in the female lead--I can think of two

Catwoman with Halle Berry which was a major dud (albeit it was a comic book film and not an action film per se)

Taxi with Queen Latifah which I have not seen but there is some kind of cop thing going on it

Whoopi Goldberg also did a couple of films in the late 80s, but I can't remember whether she is a cop or whether she was to end working with a cop.

5:01 PM  
Blogger JessicaM said...

I also wrote about gender and how Geena Davis’s character had male names. However, I like how you wrote about her cutting her hair and changing the way she dressed when she transformed back into her formal self. Do you think Mitch ever feels threatened by her? Because at first he kind of snickers at her handling guns and how was a CIA assassin, but then I think he does come to respect her. I mentioned Guerrero too, he would definitely find issues with race in this film, even though it was only brought up in the film itself a couple of times.

5:10 PM  
Blogger Emily Wilson said...

I had not made the connection during the movie about her becoming more masculine in her looks when she remembered who she was. This is a good point, when she remembers the kind of power she has she felt the need to take on a more manly persona. When she quits the dangerous profession she goes back to the long hair and long dresses, becoming more womanly and motherly.

5:48 PM  
Blogger Syd said...

I agree with you that Guerrero would have torn apart Mitch's character. Once again Samuel Jackson appears to have been typecasted as the angry black man, except this time instead of playing the hero he is the sidekick. If we look at the typical personality of the sidekick theu are meant to be angry, not follow the rules, and often have a death wish. Although MItch stays the sidekick throughout most of the movie until the end. Also when looking at Charlies character I think that she is also not the sterotypical hero because she is in denial for most of the movie and doesn't want to accept who she was and who she is

7:50 PM  

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