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Happy Endings in Hollywood CinemaCliché, Convention and the Final Couple$
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James MacDowell

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780748680177

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748680177.001.0001

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Happy endings and ideology

Happy endings and ideology

(p.133) Chapter 4 Happy endings and ideology
Happy Endings in Hollywood Cinema

James MacDowell

Edinburgh University Press

The Hollywood ‘happy ending’ is almost universally taken to be inherently ideological conservative, in part because of traditions in literary and film theory that portray narrative closure itself as ideologically pernicious. This chapter approaches the issue of ideology from three angles. Firstly addressing the broad question of popular art's ideological influence itself, it discusses (with particular reference to Before Sunrise [1995]) what potential the concept of the final couple might be said to have for structuring viewers’ real-life romantic relationships. Secondly, it takes up the question of the ideological effects of closure, particularly as they relate to the model of the self-consciously artificial ‘happy ending’ made especially famous by much critical work on the films of Douglas Sirk. The chapter concludes by addressing several historically-distinct endings taken from what is often considered an innately ‘conservative’ genre, the romantic comedy. The chapter concludes by arguing that the ideological significance of the final couple will tend to rest less on the convention's mere presence than in the particulars of its presentation.

Keywords:   Hollywood cinema, happy ending, endings, closure, ideology, romantic love, heterosexuality, marriage, sociology

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