Norma Shearer

Both on-and off-screen, Norma Shearer was known for her sexual liberation and feminine independence. She was one of the true trailblazers for female representation in Hollywood, embracing her own femininity and standing in resistance to the patriarchal powers that controlled Hollywood.

This watchlist demonstrates Norma's ability of playing strong, liberated women characters on screen. Such roles made her the star she is today and demonstrate how she took the harsh gender-based expectations of Hollywood and bent them to her own benefit.

DVD cover of "Their Own Desire"

Their Own Desire (1929)

Genre: Comedy

This film follows a young woman who must navigate her feelings towards her father, his new wife, and a new love interest of her own who has surprising connections to her wider family dynamic. Norma plays Lally, the young woman who must navigate personal and familial love.
DVD cover of "The Divorcee"

The Divorcee (1930)

Genre: Comedy-Drama

In this Academy Award-winning role, Norma plays Jerry, a New York socialite who finds herself in a love triangle with two male friends. When feelings for one come out stronger than for the other, Jerry finds herself in the middle of a dramatic divorce, changing her relationships forever.
DVD cover of "A Free Soul"

A Free Soul (1931)

Genre: Comedy-Drama

In A Free Soul, Norma plays Jan, the daughter of an alcoholic defense lawyer who must balance her father's professional and lifestyle struggles, a failed romance, and an illicit affair. When Jan finds herself attracted to Ace, a gangster and client of her father's, she must decide between choosing love and what is best for her father. In this role, Norma embodies a young woman torn between love and criminality or the law and her daughterly concern for her father.
DVD cover of "Smilin' Through"

Smilin' Through (1932)

Genre: Comedy-Drama

In this romantic drama, Norma Shearer plays Kathleen, a young woman adopted by a wealthy family friend. As Kathleen grows to adulthood, she finds herself falling in love with the son of her adoptive father's greatest enemy, set against the dire backdrop of World War II. In a Pickford-esque dual role, Norma also plays Moonyeen, the dead love of Kathleen's adoptive father, playing both her in the past and her ghost in the present.
DVD cover of "Riptide"

Riptide (1934)

Genre: Drama-Romance

DVD cover of "Marie Antoinette"

Marie Antoinette (1938)

Genre: Comedy-Drama

In this historical drama, Norma plays the ill-fated Queen of France, Marie Antoinette, and her last days in the French Revolution. Norma brings a regal and proud, yet sympathetic characterization to the queen, embodying a performance of tragedy alongside triumph.
DVD cover of "The Women"

The Women (1939)

Genre: Comedy-Drama

DVD cover of "Her Cardboard Lover"

Her Cardboard Lover (1942)

Genre: Drama