Teetering on the Edge: Portraits of innocence, risk and young female sexualities in 1950s’ and 1960s' British cinema

Janet Fink, Penny Tinkler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)


This article explores how British social problem films in the late 1950s and early 1960s represented social anxieties around the sexuality of girls in their mid to late teens. Its analytic focus is upon the risks posed by modern social life to the teenage girl's sexual innocence and it argues that attending to this hitherto often-neglected sexual state brings new insights to cultural histories of young female sexualities. Discussion draws upon Beat Girl (1959), Rag Doll (1960), Girl on Approval (1961) and Don't Talk to Strange Men (1962), highlighting how these films situated the figure of the teenage girl in the liminal space of child-adult and girl-woman and how this informed concerns about her sexual vulnerability. By unpicking the films' different approaches to viewing and representing this liminal space—through the lenses of adolescence and young womanhood—the authors demonstrate how at this historical juncture the intersections of gender and age are differently emphasised and given meaning in cinematic portrayals of sexual innocence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-25
Number of pages16
JournalWomen's History Review
Issue number1
Early online date17 Feb 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2017


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