Triviality or ageism?

I went to enjoy Asquith’s silent “Cottage on Dartmoor” with wonderful live  piano accompaniment at the NFT yesterday. Seniors’ film matinée. It was worth waiting standing for the doors to open. They did only 5 mins before the screening and there was a mad rush for seats as they were not allocated. Why this special treatment?

I made a note that in one scene taking place in a boarding house, the old landlady, three old women and a dozy old man were sympathetically filmed. They all left the parlour to leave the young couple on their own. I thought it was trivial to mention this as it might reveal my prejudice that old women on film are always unpleasant. I thought it was a trivial observation until I read Geoff Brown quoted in the notes: ” …horrendous boarding house where they sit stifled amongst the potted plants and gossiping old maids.” Why oh why are old women always ‘gossiping”, why are they always old maids and why do film commentators so readily project  on the screen their own prejudices?

A funny touch was the old woman with a huge ear-trumpet at the ‘talkie’ who needed a running commentary of the dialogue.

About rinaross

Born in 1935. MA in Film and Television Studies at the University of Westminster 1998. Studying the representation of older women in film since then.
This entry was posted in Ageism, Conferences and comments. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Triviality or ageism?

  1. I happened upon your fascinating blog by accident – noticing that we were at the Newcastle Conference on ageing. I’m pleased to note the range of films you consider, and I’m hoping to see Cottage On Dartmoor too for my research into older women in British film. I started my own blog on this topic after the conference; please have a look if you have time!

  2. rinaross says:

    I enjoyed your presentation at the conference which made me see the various Miss Marples in a more interesting light. I am so delighted that the ‘old woman’ is finally considered worth academic interest. Have you had a look at Alive and Kicking (1964) ?
    Outside your time frame Keeping Mum (2005) is from my point of view an extremely interesting black comedy. I would like to know what you think of it.

    • Rina – desperate to get hold of Alive and Kicking – it ticks all the boxes for my research! Have found a seller in the States but he wants $25 for it. I haven’t come across Keeping Mum, so will try and track it down.

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