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WILLIAMS Melanie

Female Stars of British Cinema. The Women in Question

Edinburgh University Press, 2017, 248 p., £20.

Film stars are often seen as a Hollywood creation but this book explores how British cinema developed its own culture of stardom, and how its female stars have been prized by audiences worldwide. Female Stars of British Cinema uses case studies of seven female stars whose careers span the 1940s to the present day – Jean Kent, Diana Dors, Rita Tushingham, Glenda Jackson, Helena Bonham Carter, Emily Lloyd, and Judi Dench – to explore how British star femininities have developed over time, and how the image of the British female star has responded to broader social and cultural changes. These ‘women in question’ offer a way into the complexities of British cinema’s culture of stardom which has sometimes espoused glamour and sometimes rejected it, and is entangled with issues of regional, national and ethnic identity, as well as class, sexuality and age. Exploring and investigating the variety of British star femininities over the last seventy-five years, this book also interrogates the omissions and absences from that same cinematic firmament.

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