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Thelma and Louise (1991) Sexual Assault Scene

by Phil Ethington

Written as a feminist counter-attack on rape cinema by the screenwriter Carolyn Ann "Callie" Khouri, this scene marks the most important turning-point for Hollywood cinema's gender relations. That it took until 1991 to tell the truth about violent sexual assault, replace the male protector with a big sister who pulls a Dirty Harry by killing the man in cold blood after the immediate danger had been de-escalated. Louise (Susan Sarandon) kills Harlan (Timothy Carhart) for his insulting taunts after the confrontation was over, making the scene heavily colored by "payback" for women all over the world. In the portrayal, Harlan really seems to "deserve" being killed at that moment. The attempted rape is frighteningly violent, and Louise's speech to Harlan before killing him, included here, is a complete refutation of Clint Eastwood's rapist fantasy in High Plains Drifter (1973), in which the victim relaxes and enjoys the attack as real sex. Khouri won the Academy Award for Best Screenplay Written Directly for Film (the film's only Oscar, but it won a total of six nominations). So the Industry itself honored not only a great screenplay but a feminist revision of scores of Hollywood myths and codes. This anti-rape scene is not alone in the film as a feminist rebuke. Thelma and Louise also blow-up a fuel tank truck because the driver had been catcalling them.

Thelma and Louise (1991) Sexual Assault Scene

Thelma and Louise (1991), scene in which Harlan Puckett (Timothy Carhart) attempts to rape Thelma Dickinson (Geena Davis), ending with Louise Sawyer (Susan Sarandon) killing Puckett. 1 min 33 sec clip

from Thelma and Louise (1991)
Creator: Dir. Ridley Scott, Screenplay by Carolyn Ann "Callie" Khouri. Prod. by Pathé Entertainment; Dist. by M-G-M
Distributor: M-G-M
Posted by Phil Ethington