Masked Men

Masked Men

Masculinity and the Movies in the Fifties
Steve Cohan
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 12/22/1997
Format: Paperback 48 b&w photos
ISBN: 978-0-253-21127-9
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Description

The fifties marks the moment when a heterosexual/homosexual dualism came to dominate U.S. culture’s thinking about masculinity. The films of this era record how gender and sexuality did not easily come together in a normative manhood common to American men. Instead these films demonstrate the widely held perception of a crises of masculinity. Masked Men documents how movies of the fifties represented masculinity as a multiple masquerade. Hollywood’s star system positioned the male actor as a professional performer and as a body intended to solicit the erotic interest of male and female viewers alike. Drawing on publicity, poster art, fan magazines, and the popular press as a means of following the links between fifties stars, their films, and the social tensions of the period, Cohan juxtaposes Hollywood’s narratives of masculinity against the personae of leading men like Cary Grant, Humphrey Bogart, John Wayne, Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, William Holden, Montgomery Clift, Marlon Brando, and Rock Hudson. Masked Men focuses on the gender and sexual masquerades that organized their performances of masculinity on and off screen.

Author Bio

Steve Cohan, Professor of English at Syracuse University, is co-author of Telling Stories: A Theoretical Analysis of Narrative Fiction, co-editor of Screening the Male: Exploring Masculinities in Hollywood Cinema, and The Road Movie Book. He has also published articles in Camera Obscura, Screen, The Masculine Masquerade, and Stud: Architectures of Masculinity.

Reviews

“"Through extremely detailed yet exceptionally lucid discussions of dozens of films, Cohan brilliantly examines the failure of cinematic representation to stabilize 'masculinity' in the 50s (i.e., the period from the end of World War II to the election of John Kennedy) while nevertheless bolstering a hegemonic masculinity of heterosexual manliness." —Film Quarterly Drawing on publicity, poster art, fan magazines, and the popular press to follow the links between fifties male stars, their films, and the social tensions of the period, Steven Cohan juxtaposes Hollywood's narratives of masculinity (in films as different as A Streetcar Named Desire, The Seven Year Itch, North by Northwest, and Pillow Talk) against the personae of leading men such as Cary Grant, Humphrey Bogart, John Wayne, Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, William Holden, Montgomery Clift, Marlon Brando, and Rock Hudson. Masked Men focuses on the gender and sexual masquerades that organized their performances of masculinity on and off screen. ”

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