This paper began with my interest in the roles of women in the black and white films of Malaya, spurred on by my own early childhood memories of these films. The female characters left a profound impact on me (regardless of whether they were good or evil) and have remained a source of curiosity. No longer happy with having them function merely as part of my memory, I began watching many of these films again and found remarkably intriguing portrayals of femininity that continue into present-day Malaysian society. With these concerns in mind, my paper will specifically focus on six films from the National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (or FINAS) film library. They are selected on the basis that they represent, on a micro level, the varying treatments of women, as well as the fact that they are melodramas of the 1950s and '60s with emphasis on female characters. While there are more than a few general overviews on the filmic era written in the Malay language, as well as some extensive papers on contemporary and historical background of the past and present Malaysian film industry, there is very little extensive research done in the area of how the issue of femininity was handled within these films.



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