Episode 17: Joining Laura-Celest and Lacey in their celebrations of the Mothers of the world is Valerie Kalish (Mom of 7) to talk about the mother of all domestic thrillers, The Hand That Rocks the Cradle.
Released in 1992
Directed by Curtis Hanson
Written by Amanda Silver
Starting Annabella Sciorra, Rebecca De Mornay, Matt McCoy and Ernie Hudson.
The title of the film is taken from the poem of the same name written by William Ross Wallace. The poem praises motherhood as the primary impetus for changing the world.
The musical theme that is featured in the opening credits, that Payton hums when strolling the baby through the park, and that Michael hears on the radio at the climax is “Poor Wandering One”, from the W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan musical “The Pirates of Penzance”.
Susan Faludi, whose book “Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women” argues that the media are part of a subtle effort to undermine the gains of working women, recently told the New York Times that the new nanny movie continues Hollywood’s portrayal of women as “either compliant, beautiful wives, and therefore the good woman; or . . . a seething monster, a witch, who inserts herself in the family manse and tries to destroy the family.”
Ms. Stoddard of Notre Dame agrees.
“It’s pitting woman against woman, and the good mother has to save the family,” Ms. Stoddard said. “It’s the virgin-whore dichotomy. You’re one or the other, and you have to be punished if you’re bad.”
In a nutshell, Domestic Noir takes place primarily in homes and workplaces, concerns itself largely (but not exclusively) with the female experience, is based around relationships and takes as its base a broadly feminist view that the domestic sphere is a challenging and sometimes dangerous prospect for its inhabitants. That’s pretty much all of my work described there.
Other women writing domestic noir include Erin Kelly, Araminta Hall, Paula Hawkins, Gillian Flynn, Elizabeth Haynes, Sabine Durrant, Natalie Young, Louise Millar, Paula Daly, Samantha Hayes, Louise Doughty, Julie Myerson, Jean Hanff Korelitz, A. S. A. Harrison and Lionel Shriver. There are also male writers of the subgenre, such as S. J. Watson and Tom Vowler.
the screenplay signifies its intentions with the subtlety of a blowtorch. The Hand that Rocks the Cradle, which bears a rather striking resemblance to The Baby Sitter, a 1980 TV movie, does offer one welcome innovation: When a principal character is killed, she stays down for the count, rather than springing back to life like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction and Patrick Bergin in Sleeping with the Enemy. You decide if that’s worth seven bucks. – people https://people.com/archive/picks-and-pans-review-the-hand-that-rocks-the-cradle-vol-37-no-2/
Is there something reactionary about that combat? In “Fatal Attraction,” to which this film is being compared, the point was: If you fool around you’ll pay the piper. In “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle,” the fact that both women are, in a sense, victims, doesn’t really factor into the fireworks. There’s no irony underpinning their torments, and in the end, the audience can feel relieved because a beast has been felled.
But Rebecca De Mornay’s performance is so fiercely felt that she makes you sympathize with the beast. When the Bartel’s five-year-old daughter (Madeline Zima) tells Peyton in confidence that a boy at school has threatened her, Peyton’s response is heroically cracked: Showing up at the schoolyard, she strides Terminator-style up to the pipsqueak bully and puts the fear of God into him. It’s a child’s fantasy and a parent’s fantasy all rolled into one. You’ve got to admire a woman like that. http://articles.latimes.com/1992-01-10/entertainment/ca-1450_1_cradle-movie-family
The Perfect Nanny by Leïla Slimani