By Lisa Levy
June 08, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT

Fast-Talking Dames

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Dame is ”a word that amalgamates…the romantic vocabulary of knights and ladies, with the verbal zest of American colloquialisms (and its most vibrant expression in the twentieth century, screwball comedy).” In her exploration of these dames and the films they populate, Di Battista thoroughly and delightfully details what gave Barbara Stanwyck, Irene Dunne, and Carole Lombard (among others) the nerve to question men and their most sacred creeds, like work, drinking, money, and love. The author rightfully elevates the status of the genre by revealing its indebtedness to the major dramatists and thinkers it draws on and distorts, from Shakespeare to Darwin. Just as nothing is sacred in screwball, not much escapes this analysis of the genre and its incomparably sharp-tongued heroines.

Fast-Talking Dames

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