This article employs Robert Stevenson's The Woman on Pier 13 (US, 1950) as a privileged example of anticommunist film noir in order to explore the received left critique of the ideological and aesthetic properties of this subgenre — what one might call the unhappy marriage of film noir and anticommunism — as well as to demonstrate the way in which the discourse of anticommunism is intimately related, via the metaphor of marriage, to issues such as gender and sexuality. The crux of the essay is the argument that the political discourse of anticommunism cannot be dissociated from contemporary sociocultural notions about marriage, which receives its most charged expression in the film's figuration of femininity (the femme fatale) and homosexuality (the queer “commie”). Just as Diego Rivera's painting The Flower Carrier (1935) illustrates the ideological ambiguity of The Woman on Pier 13, so too does a stereophonic sense of the film suggest that the marriage between film noir and anticommunism — like that between film noir and melodrama — is rather stranger and therefore richer than heretofore imagined, revealing not simply the changing contours of classic noir but, among other things, the emergence of the “feminine mystique” in midcentury America.
Research Article|December 01 2014
Robert Miklitsch; The Red and the Black: Gender, Genre, and the Romance of (Anti)Communism in The Woman on Pier 13. Camera Obscura 1 December 2014; 29 (3 (87)): 117–147. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/02705346-2801540
Download citation file: