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The Show

The Corpse Vanishes

Series info on UEN-TV

Patricia Hunter is a Girl Reporter whose talents are wasted on the society pages of a newspaper until her nose for news leads her to a depraved killer who's been targeting brides. Despite being surrounded by men who pooh-pooh her journalistic ambition, Hunter is the only one to notice that each bride received a rare orchid just before swooning at the altar. She follows her instincts to uncover the mystery of "The Corpse Vanishes" (1942).

In the end, however, the feisty and focused Patricia decides to give up on her career just after achieving a great coup, reflecting the ambivalent relationship to working women that America openly held at the time. While rural and lower-class urban women had always been familiar with laboring for a living, there were few "acceptable" professions for more genteel females. Teaching, typing, filing, answering phones all might be OK to do for money, at least until the woman got married. But with the start of U.S. involvement in World War II, women were called to keep the country running by filling job vacancies left by men. Suddenly, the range of "women's work" expanded considerably to include everything from publishing to business to welding, as the iconic figure of "Rosie The Riveter" testifies.

Many of these women who did not want to return to the domestic sphere were fired at the end of the war to make way for the returned male soldiers. In the long run, however, scholars often credit World War II as having encouraged more women to consider careers other than homemaking. Such women joined the ranks of those who had always been willing and able to challenge the assumed limitations on their talents such as Margaret Bourke-White and May Craig, journalists whose careers began before and lasted long after 1942.

The Science

David M. Cottle

Dr. David M. CottleDavid M. Cottle, director of the experimental music studios at the University of Utah School of Music, discusses the film “The Corpse Vanishes” and the relationship between math and music.


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Related Resources

Dr. David M. Cottle

School of Music - University of Utah

Music Composition

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