Bechdel Test Movie List

/bech·del test/ n.
1. It has to have at least two [named] women in it
2. Who talk to each other
3. About something besides a man

[[3]] It Happened One Night (1934) [imdb]

This movie passed 3 of 3 tests. It was entered by schwarta on 2009-12-28 23:20:38.



Privatsprache said:
The rating is wrong:

1. there are several women in the movie.
2. At least two of them have names: Ellie and the maid of Ellie (I've forgotten her name).
3. There are several talks between Ellie and unnamed women about other things than men (a bus ticket, a shower etc.). 4. And there is a short scene where the maid brings drinks and Ellie sais to her, that she needed one. But the maid does not say anything, so I don't know, if that counts as a talk.
Message posted on 2013-09-26 06:02:41
j said:
The rating is correct. The maid does not have a name and is not allowed to speak. This does not qualify as passing the test either way. The two women who speak to each other must be named characters. The other women on the train do not qualify.
Message posted on 2013-11-23 10:15:02
Jim said:
At 1:33:49 into the movie, the maid walks into the room and hands Claudette Colbert's character, "Ellie", a drink, to which Ellie replies:

"Oh, thank you, Mary. That's just what I needed."

The maid DOES speak, but she answers:

"Mr. Westley's on his way up."

Yes, she's talking about a man -- which means it doesn't count.

BUT wait, at 1:21:58 Claudette Colbert's character "Ellie" exchanges words with Blanche Friderici's character "Ma", as Ma is throwing her out of her motel:

Ellie: Please may I use your phone. I've got to call New York.

Ma: You ain't gonna stick me for no phone call. Right down to the sheriff's office about a quarter mile down the road. They'll fix you up. And listen, next time you'd better not come back here. I run a respectable place.

As for the character's name, her husband clearly calls her "Ma" earlier in the same scene. Perhaps "Ma" is a nickname, but then again, maybe it's her actual name. Either way, it's the name the character is called in the movie.

Seems like 3 of 3 to me.
Message posted on 2015-12-18 05:44:48
neil (webmaster) said:
I've updated the rating from 0/3 to 3/3.
Message posted on 2015-12-20 22:03:46
Maks disagreed with the rating and said:
I'm sorry but I don't think this should be a 3/3.

Let's stick with the facts. The movie credits list only 1 female character: Ellie (Claudette Colbert). The script also includes two other female characters: Agnes (Gordon's assistant), and Mary (a maid). Agnes only interacts with men. Mary speaks 1 line to Ellie, but as Jim mentioned above, it's to announce the arrival of her husband, so it doesn't count as fulfilling point 3.

Jim also mentioned a short conversation between Ellie and the woman that throws her out of the auto camp. I don't think this woman counts as a named character, for the following reasons:

1. The wife is not named in the script (the script refers to her as WIFE, while her husband is called OWNER).
2. The wife is not mentioned in the movie credits. The extended list on IMDB lists her only as “Last Motel Manager's Wife”.
3. In the script, the husband's line is: “Here's the woman, ma”, without capital letter, so I don't think that should be understood as a name or even a nickname, just like “Hey, bro” refers to a person without naming him “Bro”.

In short, I don't think you can reasonably claim this woman is a named character called “Ma”, so it doesn't fulfill point 3.

Overall I would give it a 2/3, and that's stretching it:

1. Passes.
2. Passes, barely, if you count the brief interaction between Ellie and Mary (already a bit of a stretch if you watch the movie, since it's more accurate to say that Mary briefly interrupts the conversation between Ellie and her father, but okay).
3. Fails, as discussed above.

Note: I wanted to cite some references to IMDB, the script, and the movie itself, but I'm not allowed to include links. You can find the full movie on the Internet Archive. For future reference:

- The scene with the auto camp owners is from 1:21:30 to 1:22:23.
- The scene with Ellie and Mary is from 1:29:00 to 1:34:50, Mary shows up at 1:33:57 for about 12 seconds.
Message posted on 2023-05-15 14:54:59
Alex said:
Rating is correct, this passes for the conversation between Ellen and “Ma” 1:21.55-1:22.11 which goes:

Ellen: “Please, may I use your phone? I’ve got to call New York.”
Ma: “You ain’t gonna stick me for no phone call. Right down to the sherrif’s office, about a quarter mile down the road. They’ll fix you up. And, listen, next time you better not come back here. I run a respectable place.”

This is a conversation between two named female characters which is not about a man so it passes. Yes Ma is simply credited as “Zeke’s wife” but that just means the credits are wrong not that the character does not have a name. We hear her referred to multiple times as “Ma” by Zeke in the preceding scenes.
Message posted on 2023-06-26 03:46:13

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