The Bechdel Test is a popular and very simple test to judge movies on their level of representation. For a movie to pass: (1) it has to have at least two women in it, who (2) who talk to each other, about (3) something besides a man.
If you ever want to check if a film passes the test, check here. For now, under the cut are the links to movies made before 1970 that do pass. (more masterposts)
Let me explain something about the film I Walked With a Zombie: The studio dictated the title, and told the filmmakers to come up with something.
And so, the story goes, the director (Jaques Tourneur) and the producer (Val Lewton) were trying to figure out what could be done with the prospect, when the director said something to the extent of “What about a zombie version of Jane Eyre?” And I like to think the producer responded “Get to work you beautiful genius.”
Bottom line, there’s a zombie version of Jane Eyre from 1943, where the Rochester character has a MUCH better reason for keeping his wife locked up.
She had starring roles in films throughout the 1930′s and into the mid-1940′s (An American Tragedy, Little Women, Of Human Bondage). My favorite of her films is I Walked With a Zombie (Jacques Tourneur, 1943), which despite the title is a beautiful film, more meditative than terrifying.
Scorsese Collects, featuring the director’s personal stash of vintage posters, closes today. Learn more about the films that influenced him.
[From left: one-sheet poster for I Walked With a Zombie. 1943. USA. Directed by Jacques Tourneur; Unknown designer. One-sheet poster for The Leopard Man. 1943. USA. Directed by Jacques Tourneur. Images courtesy Sikelia Productions]