Synopses & Reviews
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.
Masked Men documents how movies of the fifties represented masculinity as a multiple masquerade.
Author Steven Cohan draws on popular publicity to link narratives of masculinity and the personae of Hollywood's leading men like John Wayne, Cary Grant, Marlon Brando, Rock Hudson, and others. Cohan analyzes the gender and sexual masquerades of their performances of masculinity and challenges the postwar ideal of the typical American male as that omnipresent, but invisible Man in a Gray Flannel Suit. 48 photos.
When we think of the films of the 1950s, we inevitably remember the confident swagger of John Wayne, the suave sophistication of Cary Grant, and the emotional intensity of Marlon Brando. But today's culture critics see in the decade a period when heterosexual/homosexual dualism came to dominate the representation of American masculinity. Masked Men documents how movies of the 1950s represented masculinity as a multiple masquerade. Hollywood depicted the sexual anxieties of the domesticated breadwinner, the repudiation of wartime homoerotic male bonding, the exhibitionism of muscular bodies, the transvestic connotations of boyishness, and the playboy bachelor apartment. These presentations challenged the postwar ideal of the typical American male, that omnipresent and seemingly invisible Man in a Gray Flannel Suit.
Includes bibliographical references (p. -335) and index. Filmography: p. -322.
About the Author
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.