Bates, Robin. "Audiences on the Verge of a Fascist Breakdown: Male Anxieties and Late 1930s French Film." Cinema Journal 36.3 (1997): 25-55.
This article by Bates brings into question the general trends of French film in the late 1930s. By offering a comparison of 3 films—Marcel Carné’s Quai des brumes (1938), Maurice Tourneur’s Katia (1938) and Renoir’s La Règle du jeu (1939)—Bates delves into the role that film played for “viewers on the verge of cataclysmic change,” i.e. those at the brink of World War II (25). She uses various sources, such as reviews, letters, and even censorship rulings, in order to prove that film audiences respond more favorably to works that ease their concerns and angrily to those that exacerbate and confront these anxieties. Bates also analyzes the “crisis of masculinity,” a term coined by Ginette Vincendeau. She argues that in the atmosphere of pre-World War II Europe, as deeply powerful males like Hitler, Franco and Mussolini grew in influence, the French people began to grow disheartened and lose confidence in their male leaders. Thus, these three films reflect this idea of weak masculine characters.
Bates’ argument is relevant to my thesis because it proposes a different infusion of politics into the film. Bates mentions Theweleit’s description of archetypes, categorizing the character of Christine into the type of “pure white countess” (27). One could even argue that these archetypes are taken to the fullest extent in the film to be used for a scathing critique of the haute bourgeoisie. Her argument that the portrayal of males and male-female relations in film drastically changed in the late 1930s as a result of the pre-War political situation supports my argument. Bates’ article also provides in-depth analyses of the three films and includes key reactions to the films at the time of their premieres, again showing the effects of the films on not just French, but also European society.