Lesbian Traces in Film

The Fifties

Again "Girls in Uniform"

Not until 1958 did an obviously lesbian topic come into the limelight of a new film. Besides some foreign remakes1 Geza von Radvanyi tried Winsloe’s „Mädchen in Uniform [Girls in Uniform]“.

Almost all critics agree that this drama plays down Prussian Rules and takes the sharpness out of the draft.2 Stefanie Hetze even came to the conclusion that Radvanyi “did make the conflicts around the here too called “appalling” close relationship between Manuela and Miss von Bernburg hardly believable”.3 I do not agree with this conclusion although I highly regard Hetze’s pioneering and brilliantly written book. The erotic tense between Manuela von Meinhardis (here Romy Schneider, sic!) and Miss von Bernburg (the reserved but swirling Lilly Palmer) are simply not to be overseen!4 Miss von Bernburg rehearses with Manuela her theatre script, which the teacher still considers to be “quite unsteady”. Not the also passionate Don Carlos of the version of 1931 here stands before the teacher, no, this time it even is Romeo, making compliments to Julia. (More obvious the play could not have been chosen!) And with this rehearsal Manuela is so much into her role that she – did you see it – kiss her idolised teacher, her Miss von Bernburg right on her lips! Therefore the camera closes up to both of them, turns around them, watches them from all sides like lovers. Admittedly the content of this film matches the twee film contents of the fifties. Radvanyi thinks the melodramatic character of the story more valuable than the social and political background.

© Ingeborg Boxhammer (Bonn 2005)
Anke Sauerbrey (Translation, Bonn 2005)

Suggested citation:
Boxhammer, Ingeborg: Lesbian Traces in Film - The Fifties [online]. Bonn 2005 Available from: Online-Projekt Lesbengeschichte. Boxhammer, Ingeborg/Leidinger, Christiane. URL <https://www.lesbengeschichte.org/Englisch/film_die_50_e.html> [cited DATE].

[1] Thus in Mexiko „Muchachas en Uniforme“ 1951 („Girls without Love”), in Japan “Onna No Sono” 1954 (“The Garden of Women”) were made.
[2] Compare as further examples Rother, Rückblick, op.cit. p. 48: “but conventional like a history film the version of 1958” and Axel Schock, Manuela Kay, Out im Kino. Das lesbisch-schwule Filmlexikon, Berlin 2003, p. 234:” very much softer and unlesbian than the original”.
[3] Compare Stefanie Hetze, Happy-End für wen? Kino und lesbische Frauen. Frankfurt /Main 1986, p. 26.
[4] Daniela Sobek does agree with me: Daniela Sobek, Lexikon lesbischer Frauen im Film. Munich 2000, p. 188.

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