Qualitative Sociology

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 72–95 | Cite as

“Life isn't yet over”: Older heroines in American popular cinema of the 1930s and 1970s/80s

  • Andrea Walsh


This article analyzes the evolution of a significant undercurrent within American culture challenging the dominance of the cult of youth and masculinity, through the interpretation of selected American popular films of the 1930s and 1970s/80s featuring heroines over 60 years of age. These two eras, which witnessed the impact of elder advocacy on national legislation and social policy, generated films such asIf I Had A Million (1932),Make Way for Tomorrow (1937),Harold and Maude (1971) andThe Trip to Bountiful (1985). Through analyzing these films as well as related media trends, psychoanalytic approaches to the study of female representation in cinema are critiqued. While psychoanalytic approaches often stress the cultural dominance of an ahistorical patriarchy, a sociological model conceptualizes culture as a process constituted by communication and negotiation, resistance and rebellion as well as oppression and domination.


Social Psychology Social Policy Social Issue Cross Cultural Psychology American Culture 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrea Walsh
    • 1
  1. 1.Bunting InstituteRadcliffe CollegeUSA

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