Pretty Little Liars is a series that is very self-conscious about the detective genre’s cinematic past, with its many references to film noir and the cinema of Alfred Hitchcock. What is most interesting about these references is that they recast noir and Hitchcock scenes, conventions, symbols, and icons, but from a girl’s perspective. This act of recycling past cinematic images seems to perform an intervention into the cinematic history that has traditionally denied girl’s perspectives in favour of masculine gazes and desires. This intervention carves out space for girls to occupy empowered positions – such as holder of the gaze, detective, problem-solver – within genres that have traditionally marginalised them. Marlene King’s series therefore not only interjects into the cinematic past, but creates a televisual present in which girl’s perspectives, gazes, powers, and agency is foregrounded through this representational strategy of recasting past images from a contemporary girl’s point of view. Here are some of my all-time favourite references:
And of course Rosewood has an annual Film Noir Festival!
Aria watching the paranoid women’s film “Night Must Fall” (Richard Thorpe 1937)
Spencer watching “The Narrow Margin” (Richard Fleischer 1952)
What are your favourite Pretty Little Liar film references?