Maggie Gunsberg examines popular genre cinema in Italy during the 1950s and 1960s, focusing on melodrama, "commedia all'italiana," peplum, horror and the spaghetti western. These genres are explored from a gender standpoint which takes into account the historical and socio-economic context of cinematic production and consumption. An interdisciplinary feminist approach informed by current film theory and other perspectives (psychoanalytic, materialist, deconstructive), leads to the analysis of genre-specific representations of femininity and masculinity as constructed by the formal properties of film.
"Maggie Gunsberg's book is an excellent and most welcome analysis of genre cinema in Italy, a form that has historically tended to be overlooked by Anglo-American criticism ... As the first book written in English to bring together an extended analysis of gender and genre in Italian cinema, it will be a vital tool for researchers and students alike, providing a new slant, rather than simply an introductory overview, to Italian cinema." - Clodagh Brook, Scope