Reel Women

Celluloid sirens who whet appetites for that sweet taste of revenge.

Martina Marosi

 

The news has recently seen a flurry of speculation that the reverse of the long-running gender disparity in the workplace is here to stay — and ready for a promotion. As “The End of Men” author Hanna Rosin notes, female college graduates outpace their male peers 3 to 2, and 2010 was the first year in U.S. history that saw a female workforce majority.

This is no back-page subject matter. Last week’s The New York Times Book Review gave full-frontal action to the issue on their cover featuring reviews of Rosin’s rouser alongside Naomi Wolf’s “Vagina.”

The flaccid male presence in the workplace is not bound to rise again. It’s all fair game to the fairer sex, which has taken off the gloves, hiked up its slacks and dug in its heels for a ride that won’t end until we all get off.

A peer into the reel world reveals that, as it turns out, girls don’t just wanna have fun, and the incredible shrinking man ain’t just some sci-fi fantasy.

 

“Attack of the 50 Foot Woman”
1958

Directed by Nathan Juran

Starring Allison Hayes, William Hudson, Yvette Vickers

After a chance midnight encounter with a gigantic, extraterrestrial, wealthy and erratic Nancy Archer is changed forever. Her largesse becomes literal when — with the aid of the best B-movie special effects money could buy — Archer herself grows to a neck-craning 50 feet, stomping about town “incredibly huge, with incredible desires for love and vengeance.” Only when her looming, roof-tearing, power line-breaking physical presence is unavoidable do the local yuks start to take Archer seriously, and rue the day they dismissed her vision of the alien as drunkard’s fodder. Only time can tell what this wo-mountain will do with that philandering and money-hungry boyfriend of hers.

 

“Hard Candy”

2005

Directed by David Slade

Starring Patrick Wilson, Ellen Page, Sandra Oh

Ellen Page (“Juno”) takes the stage as a vigilante youth who makes child predators her prey. After the precocious 14-year-old Hayley Stark (Page) lures the unwitting 32 year-old pedophile Jeff Kohlver (Wilson) through an Internet chat into a trap Kohlver thought he was setting for Stark, the savvy and unrelenting teen grills Kohlver on his crimes and culpability in the death of a missing girl. Stark’s ruthless interrogation is delivered with preternatural force through the baby-faced Page, who slips something into Kohlver’s drink, asphyxiates him and straps him down before subjecting him to total psychological violation.

 

“9 to 5”

1980

Directed by Colin Higgins

Starring Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton

Vengeance makes its place again in this classic workplace comedy of errors, which follows the ragtag trio as they scheme together and seek retribution on their arrogant and sexist boss. “9 to 5” sets its action against the backdrop of professional angst and marital malaise, extending the day-laborers’ injustices beyond the walls of the office in another portrayal of affairs that give the hard-headed and empowered woman the short end of the stick. When they successfully manage to kidnap their boss and tuck him away in captivity, the ladies get a taste of what it’s like to rule the roost. They’ve cut their paycheck, and it’s payback time. The film was a box-office behemoth, and suffice it to say, made most of its sales after 6 p.m.

 

“Teeth”

2007

Directed by Mitchell Lichtenstein

Starring Jess Weixler, John Hensley, Josh Pais

What happens when a young woman discovers she’s stricken with a strong case of vagina dentata? It ain’t just something taken care of with an OTC box of Monistat 5. The afflicted Dawn O’Keefe (Weixler) is a chaste Christian teen who, after a few-too-many run-ins with the wrong type, discovers she has a full set of pearly-whites on her bearded oyster. Licentious lovers and severed penises abound in this self-aware camp power play that transforms the venue of assault into a weapon of its own.