last night. I really think it's going to become one of those movies that goes in the queue to be watched again every year or two. Peck is so pretty and Bergman is so determined!
It's really her
movie, too, in the sense that she's the main protagonist and it's all told from her point of view. And pretty much from the moment she opens her mouth in the first scene where her male coworker is trying to get her to soften up to his romantic advances and she's like "Lol, no," I just really like
Dr. Constance Peterson. (He tells her she's too cold and cerebral, and she asks if he's buttering her up; he says her "lack of emotion" is "fatal for her as a woman" and a doctor, and she says yes, yes, she's heard that from any number of amorous psychiatrists who toootally want to make her a better doctor. :D)
And she's the one who takes action to find out what's wrong with Ballantyne and try to get him some psychological help before the police lock him in the slammer. She's the one trying to figure out WTF is going on (while Gregory Peck is intermittently collapsing, staring off into space, being grouchy as fuck, or looking attractively dishevelled). And she doesn't give up. Not just because Peck is hot (though she certainly thinks so) but because she believes in his innocence and she isn't satisfied with the explanations she's getting. And then they get a happy ending, entirely due to her efforts, and Peck swoons a little less but still canonically "madly adores" her and thinks she's "brilliant."
So, I like her. She's cool. Bergman is hot. She gets the hot woobie. Very nice.
But then of course I run across someone being Wrong On The Internet about her. Okay, maybe Wrong In A Book? I was googling around to see if anyone had any opinions on Peck's more slashy roles, and came across some essay in a book on Google Books1
. Some kind of "queering the text" analysis of Hitchcock movies. And oh boy, are they wrong! ( cut for Spellbound spoilers )
It all starts to remind me of fans who decide that a female character has gotten in the way of their slash ship, so she must be a huge raging bitch (and that plant in the corner proves their faves are doing it). Or people who see an advertisement that features a beautiful, sexualized, perhaps vulnerable man, and go, "Oh wow! That's really homoerotic!" without stopping to think that, wait, straight and bi women just might have some interest in male beauty. Halfway through reading this thing, I said to myself, "Good lord. Some people just REALLY
can't handle women being in charge." Women can't be assertive or take the lead role, especially not in a het relationship! No, there has to be some
other explanation. He's gay. She's an
agent of patriarchy. (I never did figure out why that was supposedly the case here.) Something. Anything, to prove a woman can't be the knight in shining armor.
I'm queer. I'm also a woman who really appreciates active female protagonists. I also enjoy a good dose of beautiful man occasionally, and if he's a little vulnerable along with his gorgeous broad shoulders and deep brown eyes and delicious ruffle-able hair, all the better. (I might, too, have a carefully-nursed pet peeve about how alpha male heroes are so much more common than dominant women and their pretty boy-toys in het romance.) I'm a m-slasher and a fem-slasher as long as the day is long. But it really gets my goat when people take a female hero I love and pretend all the awesome things about her don't exist.
Dr. Constance Peterson: brilliant, determined, gets the hot boy. And badly-conceived meta can go fuck off.
(1) I've lost the link now, but I think it was for something called "Intimate Violence." I'm not opposed to queer theory generally, but just as I sometimes disagree with queer fandom meta, I had huge issues with this particular iteration of queer theory. It really felt like they were trying to force the facts to fit the thesis ("someone in this movie is queer and being oppressed by a straight woman, I just know it!") rather than the reverse.
(2) Even the 18-year-old son of Mucca's assistant lightkeeper feels that Guns of Navarone
is pretty damn gay.