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“Both Body and Meaning Can Do a Cartwheel”1

“Both Body and Meaning Can Do a Cartwheel”1

Postwar Hollywood Masculinities and Passing Anxieties

Chapter:
(p.137) Chapter Six “Both Body and Meaning Can Do a Cartwheel”1
Source:
Projections of Passing
Author(s):
N. Megan Kelley
Publisher:
University Press of Mississippi
DOI:10.14325/mississippi/9781496806277.003.0007

This chapter examines the crisis of masculinity as represented in Hollywood and on film. Evolving representations of masculinity were framed by the psychoanalytic turn in Hollywood, the objectification and eroticization of male bodies, the dominance of method acting, and questions about the nature of identity. These images uncoupled the stable categories of gender and sexuality, giving rise to more nuanced and anxiety-ridden representations of masculinity. The chapter considers how postwar Hollywood films charted a perceived breakdown of secure gender categories and by implication, a breakdown of sexuality. It discusses how “crisis of masculinity” films produced ambiguous masculine ideals, epitomized by the postwar “sigh guys.” Films that explore the passing guises of masculinity, such as The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, Rebel without a Cause, Vertigo, and Some Like It Hot, are analyzed.

Keywords:   crisis, masculinity, identity, gender, sexuality, Hollywood films, sigh guys, passing, The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, Rebel without a Cause

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