Melanie Griffith: Wild Girl and Working Woman

  • Lucy Bolton


The star image of Melanie Griffith is centered on vulgarity and excess, created by her film roles in the 1980s, elements of her physicality and her off-screen life, and that this has led to connotations of cheapness, artifice, and ageing disgracefully. But it is also founded on female genealogy and resilience, with a strong streak of childish rebellion, which marks Griffith out as a uniquely complex and contradictory ageing woman in Hollywood.

In this chapter, I examine Griffith’s image in terms of her career trajectory and her treatment by the press and consider how her family life and roles as famous daughter and mother sustain the longevity of her star image.


Star Image Performance Style Significant Film Film Role Sexual Availability 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Along for the Ride (aka Forever Lulu). (2000). Film. Directed by John Kaye. [DVD]. Germany, USA: Cinelulu Internationale.Google Scholar
  2. Bailey, C. 1988. Nigger/lover: The thin sheen of race in Something Wild. Screen 29(4): 28–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Body Double. (1984). Film. Directed by Brian De Palma. [DVD]. USA: Columbia.Google Scholar
  4. Bolton, L. 2009. Meg gets naked! Exposing the female star in Jane Campion’s In the Cut. In Feminism and the Body, ed. C. Kevin. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Press.Google Scholar
  5. ——— 2015. Winslet, Dench, Murdoch and Alzheimer’s disease: Intertextual stardom in Iris. In Feminisms: Diversity, difference and multiplicity in contemporary film cultures, eds. L. Mulvey, and A. Backman Rogers. Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam Press.Google Scholar
  6. Boogie Nights. (1997). Film. Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. [DVD]. USA: New Line Cinema.Google Scholar
  7. Born Yesterday. (1993). Film. Directed by Luis Mandoki. [DVD]. USA: Hollywood Pictures.Google Scholar
  8. Boshoff, A. (2015, July 2). In one face, the real price of fame: As Melanie Griffith is pictured looking eerily smooth-skinned at 56, how her face charts the highs and lows of a troubled life. [Online] Mail Online. Available from: [Accessed: 1 December 2015].
  9. CelluloidVideo. (2014, August 7). Melanie Griffith on ageing in Hollywood, and her future plans. [Online]. Available from: [Accessed: 1 December 2015].
  10. Cherry 2000. (1987). Film. Directed by Steve De Jarnatt. [DVD]. USA: Orion Pictures.Google Scholar
  11. Chilton, M. (2015, April 29). Alfred Hitchcock: A Sadistic Prankster. [Online]. The Telegraph. Available from: [Accessed: 1 December 2015].
  12. Chivers, S. 2011. The Silvering Screen. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  13. Citizen Kane. (1941). Film. Directed by Orson Welles. [DVD]. USA: RKO Radio Pictures.Google Scholar
  14. Corliss, R. 1998. Lolita: From Lyon to Lyne. Film Comment 34(5): 34–39.Google Scholar
  15. Crazy in Alabama. (1999). Film. Directed by Antonio Banderas. [DVD]. USA: Columbia.Google Scholar
  16. Dyer, R. 2005. Heavenly bodies: Film stars and society, 2nd edn. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  17. Ebert, R. (2006). Night Moves. [Online]. Available from: [Accessed: 1 December 2015].
  18. ExtraTV. (2014). Melanie Griffith: It will be too awkward to see daughter in Fifty Shades of Grey. [Online]. Available from: Accessed: 1 December 2015].
  19. Fairclough, K. 2012. Nothing less than perfect: female celebrity, ageing and hyper-scrutiny in the gossip industry. Celebrity Studies 3(1): 90–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Fear City. (1984). Film. Directed by Abel Ferrara. [DVD]. USA: Twentieth Century Fox.Google Scholar
  21. Fifty Shades of Grey. (2015). Film. Directed by Same Taylor-Johnson. [DVD]. USA: Focus Features.Google Scholar
  22. Hawaii Five-0. (2014a, March 7). TV Series. Season 4, Episode 16. Hoku welowelo. CBS.Google Scholar
  23. Hawaii Five-0. (2014b, March 14). TV Series. Season 4, Episode 17. Ma lalo o ka ‘ili. CBS.Google Scholar
  24. Hawaii Five-0. (2014c, February 28). TV Series. Season 4, Episode 15. Pale ‘la. CBS.Google Scholar
  25. Huffhines, K. (1988, December 30). Melanie Griffith: the Judy Holliday of the ‘80s?. [Online]. Freelance Star. Available from:,5729372&hl=en [Accessed: 1 December 2015].
  26. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. (1989). Film. Directed by Steven Spielberg. [DVD]. USA: Paramount.Google Scholar
  27. Isherwood, C. (2003, August 3). Chicago Review. Variety. Available from: [Accessed: 14 December 2015].
  28. Joyride. (1977). Film. Directed by Joseph Ruben. [DVD]. USA: MGM/UA.Google Scholar
  29. Kramer, P. 2004. The rise and fall of Sandra Bullock: Notes on starmaking and female stardom in contemporary Hollywood. In Film stars: Hollywood and beyond, ed. A. Willis. Manchester: Manchester University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Milk Money. (1994). Film. Directed by Richard Benjamin. [DVD]. USA: Paramount.Google Scholar
  31. Night Moves. (1975). Film. Directed by Arthur Penn. [DVD]. USA: Warner Bros.Google Scholar
  32. Nobody’s Fool. (1994). Film. Directed by Robert Benton. [DVD]. USA: Paramount.Google Scholar
  33. Oh, E. (2009, August 26). Inside Story: Melanie Griffith’s Struggle with Addiction. [Online]. People. Available from:,,20300441,00.html [Accessed: 1 December 2015].
  34. Radical Skincare. (2013). Melanie Griffith: A radical story. [Online]. Available from: [Accessed: 1 December 2015].
  35. Raising Hope. (2012a, October 2). TV Series. Season 3, Episode 1. Not Indecent but Not Quite Decent Enough Proposal. Fox.Google Scholar
  36. ———. (2012b, October 23). TV Series. Season 3, Episode 4. If a Ham Falls in the Woods. Fox.Google Scholar
  37. RKO 281. (1999). Film. Directed by Benjamin Ross. [DVD]. USA: HBO Pictures.Google Scholar
  38. Roar. (1981). Film. Directed by Noel Marshall. [DVD]. USA: American Filmworks.Google Scholar
  39. Shining Through. (1992). Film. Directed by David Seltzer. [DVD]. USA: Twentieth Century Fox.Google Scholar
  40. Something Wild. (1986). Film. Directed by Jonathan Demme. [DVD]. USA: Orion.Google Scholar
  41. Stobezki, J. (2015, February 19). Utterly Terrifying ROAR, Starring Tippi Hedren & Melanie Griffith, joins pride of Drafthouse films. [Online]. DrafthouseFilms. Available from: [Accessed 1 December 2015].
  42. Stormy Monday. (1988). Film. Directed by Mike Figgis. [DVD]. UK/USA: Warner.Google Scholar
  43. Superstars and their Moms: Melanie Griffith. (1987). Film. Directed by Jeff Margolis and Al Schwarz. [TV]. Dick Clark Productions.Google Scholar
  44. The Birds. (1963). Film. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. [DVD]. US: Universal.Google Scholar
  45. The Bonfire of the Vanities. (1990). Film. Directed by Brian DePalma. [DVD]. US: Warner.Google Scholar
  46. Traube, E.G. 1992. Dreaming identities: Class, gender and generation in 1980s Hollywood movies. Boulder: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  47. Two Much. (1995). Film. Directed by Fernando Trueba. [DVD]. USA and Spain: Divisa.Google Scholar
  48. Working Girl. (1988). Film. Directed by Mike Nichols. [DVD]. USA: Twentieth Century Fox.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lucy Bolton
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Languages, Linguistics and FilmQueen Mary University of LondonLondonUK

Personalised recommendations