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Studying the British Crime Film$
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Paul Elliott

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781906733742

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781906733742.001.0001

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Working Girls

Working Girls

Chapter:
(p.93) Chapter Five: Working Girls
Source:
Studying the British Crime Film
Author(s):

Paul Elliott

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.3828/liverpool/9781906733742.003.0006

This chapter focuses on how prostitution is figured in popular British cinema. Like many areas of crime cinema, prostitution provides a fairly accurate barometer of how the British public views itself. If the cinematic gangster offers insights into the nature of masculinity and the heist movie gives insights into greed and economics, then the prostitute film sheds light on the changing face of sexual morality The chapter is divided into three main periods — the 1950s, the 1980s, and the 1990s — and traces how the working girl was presented in each of these. The picture that emerges from this exercise is one of slow change; from the paternalism of the 1950s, through the permissiveness of the 1960s, on to the politicisation of the 1980s. Representations of prostitution are also ineluctably tied to gender politics and the concomitant power relationships of socio-economics. Films about prostitution are almost always written, directed, and produced by men but most often feature women; films that depict male prostitution are few and far between and contain radically different socio-politics as those that feature female sex-workers. This means that any study of cinematic prostitution must always consider the means of production, its context, and its consumption.

Keywords:   prostitution, British cinema, crime cinema, prostitute film, sexual morality, working girl, gender politics, socio-politics, male prostitution, cinematic prostitution

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