John Ford's 'Tis Pity She's a Whore (1633), which narrates the tragedy of Annabella and Giovanni, the siblings whose sexual relationship cannot be sustained within the confines of Parma's religious and patriarchal social structures, is a play that drives relentlessly toward death. This article explores the implications of this drive for spectatorship via a consideration of Giuseppe Patroni Griffi's feature film 'Tis Pity She's a Whore (1973) (released in Italian as Addio, Fratello Crudele (1971)). Through an examination of the death of Annabella and Patroni Griffi's directorial intervention into Ford's text in the final moments of the film-the massacre of the extended family and the display and beheading of Giovanni's naked body-I argue that the film's representation of death works to deprioritize the deaths of Annabella and her extended family, excising them from a community of mourners, in favor of reifying (in quasi-spiritual and erotic terms) Giovanni's death. In Patroni Griffi's film, death is not only made sexy in the deaths of Annabella and Giovanni but also "sexed" such that men are afforded more space for mourning-and being mourned-than women. By reading the representations of death in dialogue with one another and, on occasion, by considering differences between the VHS version and the cuts made to the DVD version, I draw attention to this differential. In so doing the article considers how spectators are enjoined to look upon violence and the possibilities that the film offers for thinking about the gender politics of death and mourning.


Desire,Death,John Ford,'Tis Pity She's a Whore,Violence,Spectatorship,Ethics,Film


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 559-572
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.