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Author Topic: THUNDERBOLT AND LIGHTFOOT: The Story 4: Portrayal of Women  (Read 18402 times)
Matt
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« on: June 27, 2004, 10:43:49 AM »

What do you think of the way women are portrayed in the film (Melody, Gloria, the secretary in Thunderbolt's workplace, the motorcyclist with the hammer, the nude woman at the window, the wives of all the minor characters, etc.) Why do you think they are portrayed like this?
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Agent
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« Reply #1 on: July 07, 2004, 01:55:59 PM »

I think it's a humorous, albeit stereotyped view of women  in general. But I think the film's portraying it from two main characters' point of view - the way they see women....as well as the kind they're attracted to.  
« Last Edit: July 07, 2004, 01:56:37 PM by Agent » Logged

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allycat
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« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2004, 03:44:27 PM »

It's rather a stereotypical view of women. All the women in the film are minor characters. Lightfoot picks up two women and tells Thunderbolt:

Quote
Brought back some extra goodies.
(Thunderbolt is incredulous)
Lightfoot :Gloria has a great ass.
Gloria: Listen, I just got out of a bed to come here, y’know? And I don’t intend to jump right back into one here.
Lightfoot: Oh I forgot to tell you. Gloria is yours.

This scene is very funny albeit rather sexist. Women are little more than sex objects. Even Gloria’s comments, which appear to give her some integrity, appear shallow when we see Thunderbolt making love to her in the scene directly following this one. The fact that she cries rape because Thunderbolt won’t take her home at 3.30 in the morning also undermines her integrity.

Other women in the film: The waitress in the diner. When asked for his order, Lightfoot declares, “I’m gonna have you. And four scrambled eggs. Very loose.” Both Thunderbolt and Lighfoot get a lot of pleasure out of watching the waitress’s behind as she walks away from them after taking their order. Lightfoot calls it ‘Poetry’.

The woman on the motorcycle, appears to be rather mentally unstable or something. She freaks out and pulls a hammer out and starts hitting the truck Lightfoot is driving. Perhaps this is unsurprising considering the fact that Lightfoot has again reduced women to sexual objects. His first comment to her is “Where’d you get those pants?” However, his comments aren’t anything more than good-natured, as he calls after her as she drives away in anger, “You freak! I love you, come back!” He finds the whole experience highly amusing, and so does the viewer.

But any indications that Lightfoot thinks little of women or likes to treat them as sex objects seems unfounded at least near the beginning of the film, as we see the prostitutes milling around.

Quote
Thunderbolt: Busy night.
Lighfoot: I’ve never paid for it in my life.
Thunderbolt: Sometimes you have to pay for your pleasure.
Lightfoot: Hah, not me. I’ll never pay for it, I can tell you that.

However, it’s a depressing picture that is painted of women. There isn’t one developed female character, and all the minor ones are basically there as sex objects or appear irritable and hysterical (in the latter categories, namely, the woman at the gas station, Gloria, and the girl on the motorcycle). Even the fat man is looking at porn and only lets Lightfoot in after eyeing him up, thinking he’s an attractive woman.

On the other hand, you could argue, the woman who appears naked to Lightfoot at the window is sexually liberated. And the girl on the motorcycle is standing up for herself, by using the hammer on the van. None of the women in the film are exactly wallflowers, or too submissive, except for Melody, perhaps. And the black lady who asks Thunderbolt for his social security number is a professional working woman. It depends how you look at it! The fact that she is scantily clad could either be viewed as sexist or an assertion of female independence and sexuality. Although, she gets ogled, too...  ::)
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mgk
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« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2004, 10:58:37 AM »

Good points, Ally.  :D

I, too, think the women in this film are downplayed as important characters.  The wife at the gas station just sounds like a nagging idiot.  Besides, the armory boss's wife (but, even she is seen in bed), all of the other women are either thought of as only sex objects or, as in the case of the naked woman in the house, they use themselves as sex objects.  

This is very unusual for an Eastwood film.  He usually has strong female characters in his films.  However, he wasn't in charge of this film and somewhere I remember a quote where Eastwood told Cimino to shoot it the way he saw it.

Another point about the female characters in this movie is the fact that they aren't very important.  The film could have almost been made without them.  The most important part about any woman in this film is the fact that it gave Cimino the opportunity to show the differences between Red and Lightfoot and also added "fuel to the fire" to strengthen the annymosity between these two characters.
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Christopher
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« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2004, 12:49:25 PM »

Maybe Cimino was trying to make a point, or have a purpose in having the female characters be the way they are.

I agree with mgk:
Quote
The most important part about any woman in this film is the fact that it gave Cimino the opportunity to show the differences between Red and Lightfoot and also added "fuel to the fire" to strengthen the annymosity between these two characters.
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Christopher
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« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2004, 02:37:35 PM »

I had another thought, but it didn't make it in my last post.

Considering some believe Cimino was doing a film with gay subtext, it doesn't seem likely to me that he'd make a film showing women as objects just.....because; particularly during the 1970s.
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Matt
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« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2004, 05:06:42 PM »

I think it's the 70's in a nutshell. It was a rough time for male/female relationships with women's lib exploding and a rise in women attending college and a drastic rise in women working outside of the home. Divorce rates were up with no-fault divorce legislation, and more couples were cohabitating rather than marrying than ever before. Women were feeling empowered and a lot of men weren't thrilled with the changes they were seeing.  I think this attitude toward marriage and women in general shows up in the 'feel good' road movies of the 70's which aim to put women back in "their place"... while men hang out, drink beer and live the high life. These type of movies appealed mostly to men; giving a boost in confidence and a feeling of being back in control.

I see that attitude in Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, mixed in with the attitude that men are able to have a truer friendship with other men than they are with women. There just isn't any camaraderie between men and women in this film at all. Every married couple we see is disjointed; all of their short conversations in the film are limited to disrespecting or insulting each other. So I think another thing that's being said by these short glimpses at these couples is that marriage is one of the many institutions in America that was breaking down.

Meanwhile, all of the single women in the film are either seen having sex, or appear to have the sole purpose of existing for men's enjoyment (although they don't all seem too happy about it). I don't see a gay subtext, but I do see some resentment between the sexes (especially the scene with the female motorcyclist with the hammer) and a film that is a small time capsule of the 70's.
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Christopher
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« Reply #7 on: July 14, 2004, 06:14:19 PM »

Well said, Matt. I agree. I couldn't quite find the words for my thoughts.
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mgk
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« Reply #8 on: July 14, 2004, 06:33:50 PM »

Excellent points, Matt, and very well said.  :)
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Agent
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« Reply #9 on: July 15, 2004, 08:09:59 AM »

I see that attitude in Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, mixed in with the attitude that men are able to have a truer friendship with other men than they are with women. There just isn't any camaraderie between men and women in this film at all. Every married couple we see is disjointed; all of their short conversations in the film are limited to disrespecting or insulting each other....

...I don't see a gay subtext, but I do see some resentment between the sexes...

But perhaps that was in fact part of Cimino's subtle, underlying subtext he was utilizing.....who knows?  
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Matt
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« Reply #10 on: July 15, 2004, 03:11:22 PM »

See, I agree that there are themes of aggression between the sexes, and that one of the main themes is changing values between the younger and older generation.

However....

That's a whole lot different than a gay subtext.  I don't see any suggestion that men should be sleeping with men in this movie...

There's nothing sexual between Thunderbolt and Lightfoot...  no underlying sexual tension. It's just friendship.

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Agent
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« Reply #11 on: July 15, 2004, 03:20:51 PM »

I have to agree with that - I've never, ever seen anything homo-related in this movie. I'm just trying to find any possibilities that Cimino's sub-sub-sub-sub-text has any validity to it....or at least the claim that it has. I'd like to know GM*T's sources on where he got this, cuz I know he swore it existed.
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Matt
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« Reply #12 on: July 15, 2004, 03:28:02 PM »

There were no sources. Someone years ago posted on the board that they were at a lecture where Cimino said there was a gay subtext... but there was no proof that this ever really occured, and there's not a single quote from Cimino or Eastwood in any printed publication that any Eastwood fan here has ever come across. Running with this as proof, GMAT went through the movie, looking for anything and everything that could possibly be construed as gay subtext, and listed about 2 dozen things in that old debate. Some of them were downright hilarious and off-the-wall, and some of them were reasonable... however, as Stranger did so well with an example from Every Which Way But Loose, if you look for a gay subtext in any film, you can find it... just look hard enough. He found some great ones with Clyde and Philo. There's not really much of a difference... it's how it's interpreted by the viewer.
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allycat
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« Reply #13 on: July 15, 2004, 03:36:24 PM »

I agree with you Matt, and you made some interesting points. Men and women are at odds in this film, and it is indicative of the time.

I don't believe there is really a gay subtext but I mentioned it in the 'Themes' thread simply because it had been raised before and I was interested to hear other people's thoughts on it, if any. I know this is the wrong thread for this discussion, but I'd just like to say in passing that you could in theory have a gay subtext without there needing to be anything sexual in a relationship between two men. Of course, a man can have feelings for another man, but that does not necessarily mean he is gay. Lightfoot is attracted to Thunderbolt I think, and what he represents, but this  doesn't mean that Lightfoot himself is gay. I don't think he is. I suppose if he was sexually attracted to Thunderbolt, that might mean he was. But we agree that he isn't ;)
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Agent
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« Reply #14 on: July 15, 2004, 03:41:47 PM »

Ah....so he got that from hearsay (GMAT that is). Well, my view's always been, if someone sees everything thru pink-tinted glasses....why did they put them on in the first place? You have to want to see things in that light, is you ask me. I'm not implying anything towards GMAT - his posts were some of the best on here, and I miss his participation. But that whole T & L subject got my head shaking.

Well, back to topic, women are definitely portrayed in this film in a risque' manner, although I have to guiltily admit.....I enjoy it. That scene with Lightfoot tamping the sod is classic.... ;D
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Matt
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« Reply #15 on: July 15, 2004, 03:44:14 PM »

Is there a gay subtext in The Color of Money? Does one man's admiration for another man mean it's a statement about homosexuality?

Homosexuality is a preference for sexual relations with a member of the same sex. That's totally different from respecting or admiring someone of the same sex... and there's nothing like that in this film.
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Matt
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« Reply #16 on: July 15, 2004, 03:45:13 PM »


Well, back to topic, women are definitely portrayed in this film in a risque' manner, although I have to guiltily admit.....I enjoy it.

I like it too.  ;D
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allycat
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« Reply #17 on: July 15, 2004, 04:08:17 PM »

Well, I can't speak from personal experience, but I feel that homosexuality is as much a state of mind as a sexual preference. But...we're moving on now :) And for the record, I do not believe there is anything like that in this film either!

Why am I not surprised that you guys like this objectification of women? (The feminist in me cries)  ::) But I admit if men were objectified in such a way...pretty men, mind you...I wouldn't argue that much with it. As I recently found while watching Troy. I'm not annoyed by the way women are portrayed in this film, to be honest, because the film works as it is, and it's not meant to really be about the relationships between men and women. I believe (and could say this in the 'Relationships' thread) that the two main relationships are male, and between Lightfoot and Thunderbolt, Red and Goody. So it's a buddy movie...and thankfully us gals can relate to that and enjoy it. Especially this one :D
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Matt
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« Reply #18 on: July 15, 2004, 04:18:34 PM »

Well, just to tidy up the 'gay subtext' discussion in this thread, I'll say what I said years ago in the old debate... if in 1974 when this film was released Cimino did feel he wanted to make a statement about homosexuality, and this was his way of doing it... it was largely ineffective as even when most of us search for it, we see a film that's making a statement about friendship and heterosexuality.

But, if gays in the 70's were desperate enough for entertainment that condoned their lifestyle that they appreciated this film, there's nothing wrong with that. It's how the film is interpreted by each individual viewer, and I personally don't see it. That's not to say that other people won't see it if they want to (agreeing with Agent's post at the bottom of the previous page).
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Christopher
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« Reply #19 on: July 15, 2004, 04:29:54 PM »

Honestly, when I made this statement:
Considering some believe Cimino was doing a film with gay subtext, it doesn't seem likely to me that he'd make a film showing women as objects just.....because; particularly during the 1970s.
I wasn't trying to start a discussion about gay subtext in this film. I was trying to say that if Cimino was really trying to make a film with those themes in it, I don't believe he'd objectify women for the sake of it. Maybe he was trying to show some aspect of society. As mentioned earlier, women's lib was a big thing around this time, so if Cimino is interested in homosexual themes, why would he be so politically incorrect as to objectify women? Perhaps he is showing the objectification for that reason. I've never seen any gay subtext in the movie either, and I still beleive it's possible he was making a statement about relationships in this movie.
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