Because the terms "melodrama" or "melodramatic" now usually bear a negative connotation representing narrative flaws usually associated with television soap operas, few contemporary films are eager to wear the description. Historically, however, this type of film is one of the oldest and most popular of the medium. Also known as the weepie or woman's film -- a term that arose during the silent era because of the number of females who attended screening -- traditional melodrama focuses predominantly on domestic tension and division, with the distinction between good and evil very well drawn between characters. Often sentimental, full of coincidence and contrived plot elements, melodrama appeals almost exclusively to the viewer's emotions rather than the mind, emphasizing stylized tones, grand gestures and overly emotional narrative action such as loss of love, emotional and/or physical duress, illness and death. Still, in the finest classic examples of the genre, such as Stella Dallas, Letter From an Unknown Woman, The Women, Greed and Written on the Wind, these conventions can often be devastating critiques of social and political repression and hypocrisy. Still, it often takes the touch of a very skilled filmmaker like Douglas Sirk, Rainer Werner Fassbinder,Michael Powell, George Cukor, William Wyler, Erich Von Stroheim or Josef VonSternberg -- to raise these simple codes from saccharine cliches and stereotypes to popular art.