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Talkies, Road Movies and Chick Flicks

Gender, Genre and Film Sound in American Cinema

Heidi Wilkins

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Offers a detailed and innovative discussion of film sound and gender in mainstream US cinema

The representation of gender in film remains an intensely debated topic, particularly in academic considerations of US mainstream cinema where it is often perceived as perpetuating rigid, binary views of gender, and reinforcing patriarchal, dominant notions of masculinity and femininity. While previous scholarly discussion has focused on visual or narrative portrayals of gender, this book considers the ways that film sound – music, voice, sound effects and silence – is used to represent gender. Taking a socio-historical approach, Heidi Wilkins investigates a range of popular US genres including screwball comedy, the road movie and chick flicks to explore the ways that film sound can reinforce traditional assumptions about masculinity and femininity, impart ambivalent meanings to them, or even challenge and subvert the notion of gender itself. Case studies include Mildred Pierce, Aliens and The Deer Hunter.


Chapter One: Talking Back: Voice in Screwball Comedy
Chapter Two: All That Jazz: The Diegetic Soundtrack in Melodrama
Chapter Three: The Alienated Male: Silence and the Soundtrack in New Hollywood
Chapter Four: Brothers in Arms: Masculinity and the Vietnam War Movie
Chapter Five: Subversive Sound: Gender, Technology and the Science Fiction Blockbuster
Chapter Six: Girl Talk: The Postmodern Female Voice in Chick Flicks

About the Author

Heidi Wilkins is a journalist and independent scholar. She has taught film studies at the University of Essex and has published several articles about film sound and gender in contemporary American cinema.


Heidi Wilkins’ book provides a welcome contribution to film/sound studies. The neglected issue of gender in relation to film sound in American mainstream cinema is well explored and vividly discussded. This book should appeal to a wide variety of readers. The writing is fluent and thoughtful throughout.

Stephen Deutsch, Bournemouth University