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Old 11-Oct-17, 15:54
Dennis Dune Dennis Dune is offline
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Default Re: The History of Long Beatdowns in Fiction

I've been trying to get a sense of what are the earliest examples of female-over-male "long beatdowns" in the various media. By "long beatdowns" i mean extended fights in which a woman proves her fighting prowess in combat with a male opponent, whether she necessarily wins the bout or not. This would be in contrast with what I call "short shots," where a woman simply repels a male opponent with a punch, a single judo throw, or an armlock. I think that the latter are pretty common in a lot of fiction, but tne extended unarmed combats, not so much. Sometimes opponents use combinations of armed and unarmed combat, but these are outside my consideration, as are f/f catfights.

One of the earliest stories in which a woman bests a man in an extended brawl is a comic incident in Dickens' 1837 OLIVER TWIST, where a newly married wife sets her demanding husband straight, mostly with bare hands as I recall. The incident is rarely if ever adapted to cinema.

There may be some obscure brawls in early silent cinema, but by and large I don't think that even the "serial queens" went there very often. There's a lot of "short shots" in the first decade of sound films, but the first fairly long sequences seem to be in 1944's THE TIGER WOMAN, where Linda Stirling bests male opponents on two separate occasions, mostly with judo/wrestling moves.

Four years later, Sterling Holloway makes a bunch of shorts for Columbia, whose Three Stooges shorts are full of brief fights (there's even one with a female wrestler, whose name I forget). In MAN OR MOUSE pretty little Noel Neill convinces her boyfriend (Holloway) to practice-box with her, and cleans his clock in comic fashion.

Comic books were somewhat ahead of live-action films, with Sheena debuting in 1938 and Wonder Woman in 1941. A lot of female crimefighters used boxing and judo in their exploits, but Wonder Woman's beatdowns were the longest of the period. Comic strips weren't as given to long beatdowns, though I remember a 1920s strip of the WASH TUBBS comic in which the short hero is literally used to "mop up the place" by a bigger girlfriend.

I would have thought that animated cartoons, with their penchant for extreme violence, would have been more friendly to female violence, but there aren't many. 1932's FARMER AL FALFA'S APE GIRL, a Tarzan spoof, implies (but does not show) a long beating:

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Terrytoons provided one of the longest clearly-visible beatdowns in THE WOLF'S SIDE OF THE STORY (1938), a Red Riding Hood spoof, but regrettably the animators focused on a crotchery old granny for the action:

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And they remade the cartoon a few years later in color, with most of the same sequences:

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I'm frankly not sure what the first clearly-visible fm "long beatdown
is in cartoons. Might not be anything until the "judo lesson" episode of THE FLINTSTONES in the 1950s.

Opinions, anyone?

Ah, forgot to include television, but AVEMGERS is probably the best candidate.
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Old 12-Oct-17, 04:50
cashley216 cashley216 is offline
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Default Re: The History of Long Beatdowns in Fiction

What about the old British outfit Pathe? They used to make films that have the look of old newsreels. They seemed to be fascinated by the idea of fighting women. They showed women beating men in the guise of self-defense demonstrations. There's an old film -- I think it's Pathe -- of a woman boxing a man. Stuff like that. Pretty long in some cases. But I've never been able to date them. I'm thinking the '40s and '50s mainly, with some earlier. I think they were actually in business before talkies. Lots of their stuff seems to be on YouTube. Gets posted here sometimes.

The Flintstones were actually the early '60s.

Speaking of '50s and television, though, there was Honey West, a babe of a private eye, played by Anne Francis. It was a half hour series. Only ran two years. But she'd get in at least one mixed fight per episode, and sometimes two. Definitely predates the Avengers. Late '50s. It was based on a series of books by G.G. Flicking, if I've got the name right.

Earlier than that, wasn't there a television version of Sheena? I think so, but I also think it was generally disappointing for fans of mixed.
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Old 12-Oct-17, 09:46
verscont verscont is offline
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Default Re: The History of Long Beatdowns in Fiction

Quote:
Originally Posted by cashley216 [Only Registered Users Can See LinksClick Here To Register]
Speaking of '50s and television, though, there was Honey West, a babe of a private eye, played by Anne Francis. It was a half hour series. Only ran two years. But she'd get in at least one mixed fight per episode, and sometimes two. Definitely predates the Avengers. Late '50s. It was based on a series of books by G.G. Flicking, if I've got the name right.
Nope. Anne Francis was lovely as Honey West, but she didn't pre-date the (UK) Avengers - at least on TV (I don't know anything about books). Anne as Honey first featured in an episode of Burke's Law in 1965, and the character was soon given her own show that lasted just one series (1965-66).

The Avengers began in 1961, and Honor Blackman was happily throwing actors and stuntmen around as soon as she joined during the following year.

Shortly afterwards there was a real missed opportunity when Stefanie Powers, who had been taught judo as can be seen in many internet images, starred in the spin-off Girl From UNCLE. Sadly, unlike Honey and Steed's various accomplices, all the rough stuff was left to her male support.

Moving back to the original topic, I haven't had much time to think about it yet, but there must be a place in history for Modesty Blaise. The 1960s movie gets mixed reviews, but the original syndicated cartoon strip always had her laying down the smack or whatever.

Added after 21 minutes:

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What about the old British outfit Pathe? They used to make films that have the look of old newsreels.
Yes, that's because they WERE old newsreels, designed to be shown as shorts in theatres before the main feature came on. Gradually they fell out of favour because of TV and stopped production in 1970.

Anyhow, here is a link to a recent Pathe montage of 6 intrepid women from their newsreels. Included are the boxer, a circus strongwoman and a 1930s self-defence expert. You can see some of the source material to the right-hand side.

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Back to the topic. It's probably not ancient history to many of us old-timers, but I think Cynthia Rothrock deserves a mention for popularising our interest during the late 1980s and early 1990s. It may have originated in Asia, but she brought it to an international audience through the video era. The relevant point, I think, is this was the earliest I can remember of a genuine female martial artist - not an actress/stuntwoman combo - headlining in the movies and doing a lot more than an occasional punch or throw. So I think she qualifies again and again for the 'long beatdown' criteria.

Last edited by verscont; 12-Oct-17 at 09:46.
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Old 12-Oct-17, 17:41
cashley216 cashley216 is offline
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Default Re: The History of Long Beatdowns in Fiction

I stand mainly corrected. Actually, I was in the process of correcting myself when I saw that I already had been.

For the record, though, The Avengers didn't show up in the U.S. until 1966. I knew it had been running before that in England, but I didn't mention that because I thought it was irrelevant to my point if HW was from the '50s.

(I guess what confused me about HW dates was that there was a whole slew of private-eye series in the '50s.)

I still think HW predated The Avengers in the U.S. If they had both been on at the same time, I really think I would remember that as a golden age.

Judging from Wikipedia, it looks like HW may have been ending in '66 (after its one season with 30 episodes), just as Diana Rigg was showing up on my side of The Pond.
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Old 13-Oct-17, 01:59
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Default Re: The History of Long Beatdowns in Fiction

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Old 15-Oct-17, 17:09
Dennis Dune Dennis Dune is offline
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Default Re: The History of Long Beatdowns in Fiction

I misspoke in my first post: after citing a 1938 cartoon that showed a long beatdown, I said something about finding the first one in cartoons. I might have meant TV-made cartoons, which would be why I said FLINTSTONES. Or else I was trying to think of the first one with a sexy female character-- which I did find in 1940, also from Terrytoons:

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I've seen a handful of Sheena programs, which may be all that's been preserved, and yeah, they don't offer much to fans of f/m or f/f.

Cathy Gale started making irregular appearances in THE AVENGERS in the 1962-63 season, and there are some good long beatdowns during her two years, though the producers played it up much more with Emma Peel. As it happens, 1962 is also the year for what I think is Mexico's first "lucahadoras" fiction-film, called DOCTOR OF DOOM in America. Definitely much more f/m action in that film and some of its sequels.
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Old 16-Oct-17, 10:08
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Default Re: The History of Long Beatdowns in Fiction

For those who've never heard of her, there was a series of features in India starring 'Fearless Nadia' that ran from the 1930s through to the 1950s.

The sub-continent seems a strange place for such an early ass-kicking pioneer, but her European heritage probably made it easier for her to be accepted whilst portraying a very non-traditional female role.

Her films are hard to find these days, though there are probably a few YT clips around. I was amazed to find, around five years ago, her "Diamond Queen" broadcast on Channel 4 (UK). I think it was part of a 100 years of Indian Cinema celebration or something like that. So there's hope yet that someone may dust off those old reels and make them more widely available.

Nadia's style was the all-action heroine - a bit like the men in 1940s American serials - as she rode horses, swung around on ropes and punched people's lights out. The fighting scenes I saw were mainly of the bar-room brawl variety but she could certainly throw the bad guys around as well as use her fists.

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Old 17-Oct-17, 03:36
cashley216 cashley216 is offline
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Default Re: The History of Long Beatdowns in Fiction

Interesting. Had no idea. Would have thought the Chinese, and maybe the Japanese, would be the first with that sort of thing.

Any skin?
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Old 17-Oct-17, 09:28
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Default Re: The History of Long Beatdowns in Fiction

If you mean nudity, no. I suspect she was only allowed to show her impressive bare legs because she wasn't an Indian woman. As a white western circus performer in India she was probably something so far from the norm that there was no chance of anyone wanting to copy her.

...until 2017, that is:

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Old 17-Oct-17, 20:17
cashley216 cashley216 is offline
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Default Re: The History of Long Beatdowns in Fiction

No, I didnít mean nudity. I was mainly wondering if she was dressed in a totally sexless way. In many old Asian films, the female ass kicker is covered head-to-foot, even to the point of passing as male. Iím surprised to find that isnít the case in these movies.

Iím wondering if maybe the creator of this character was one of us.

Perhaps you can correct me, but there doesnít even seem to be any suggestion that the reason she can beat men in fights is that she has studied some martial art. The reason seems to be simply that sheís tough and strong. Thatís another surprise to me. I mean she fights, as you say, just like the guys in westerns do. And nobody ever said those guys were trained. They were just guys.

Interesting that she had to be non-Indian. But, you know, I can remember a time when, in American entertainment, if a female character was able to beat men in fights, she was likely to be Asian. The West had a little fascination with women in the then-mysterious martial arts; and the martial arts were thought of as an Asian thing. There was a sense that maybe judo and karate somehow made the male advantages of size and strength irrelevant, making some Asian women a breed apart.

Iím wondering if there was some sense in India, or some circles in India, that foreign women Ė or maybe, I donít know, foreign circus women or something Ė were somehow a breed apart.

Anyway, fascinating and surprising. Until led otherwise, Iím going with the one-of-us theory.
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