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Two-Faced Women: The "Double" in Women's Melodrama of the 1940s

Lucy Fischer
Cinema Journal
Vol. 23, No. 1 (Autumn, 1983), pp. 24-43
DOI: 10.2307/1225070
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1225070
Page Count: 20
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Two-Faced Women: The "Double" in Women's Melodrama of the 1940s
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Abstract

In the 1940s a particular sub-genre of the Hollywood "woman's picture" was popular--films whose plot centered on twin sisters played by the same actress. Three such films are examined in this essay: "Cobra Woman" (1944) and "Dark Mirror" (1946) directed by Robert Siodmak, and "A Stolen Life" (1946) directed by Curtis Bernhardt. After discussing the narrative of these films in relation to classical theories of the "double" figure in literature and psychoanalysis, the essay argues that the specific configuration of these narratives confirms certain patriarchal notions of womanhood, which bifurcate the female into alleged "feminine" and "masculine" poles.

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