Masked Men: Masculinity and the Movies in the Fifties

By Steven Cohan | Go to book overview

NOTES

1. The Spy in the Gray Flannel Suit
1.
Interestingly, this scene was a turning point for the film in more ways than one since "the idea of Eve's shooting Thornhill with blanks" appears to have been the catalyst that started Ernest Lehman writing again in late 1957 after writer's block had stalled his completion of the last quarter of the screenplay ( Leff 105).
2.
Modleski suggests that in both Vertigo and North by Northwest "fear of heights" is associated with "femaleness"—more specifically, with femininity as a construction of symbolic male lack ( Women90).
3.
Wood reprints his 1965 book within Hitchcock's Films Revisited (55-236). For his analysis of North by Northwest as a growth narrative, see 131-41.
4.
In order of their publication in Look, the three pieces were by Moskin, Leonard, and Attwood. They were then republished later that same year in book form under the title The Decline of the American Male by the editors of Look ( New York: Random House, 1958).
5.
Geoffrey M. Shurlock, Letters to Joseph Vogel, 2 Oct.1958 and 16 Oct. 1958; North by Northwest PCA file.
6.
George M. Wilson also refers to the film's thematic defense of illusionism, but rather than historicizing it, as I am doing, he interprets this theme as an instance of Hitchcockian metacinema: a "wry apologia for the sort of illusionistic art—more specifically, for the sort of illusionistic cinema—that Hitchcock, paradigmatically, has always practiced" (64). But this film is just as much an Ernest Lehman screenplay as it is an Alfred Hitchcock classic. With its adept and knowing positioning of Roger within the social milieu of the media professional, North by Northwest bears a strong similarity to Lehman's previous film, Sweet Smell of Success ( 1957), a film noir depiction of the night life of newspaper columnists and publicity mongers. I don't think it is an understatement to say that Lehman's contribution to the film's thematic preoccupation with illusions and performances is probably what helps to give North by Northwest the historical context I am emphasizing.
7.
20th Century-Fox Press Release, Oct. 1957, Grant file, Herrick. This press release was used to publicize the production of An Affair to Remember, in which the star reportedly wore "all his own clothes," but the characterization of Grant's fashion sense applies as well to North by Northwest. The description was boilerplate, since it appeared in a studio press release from 1952 as well.
8.
Naremore comments on the way the gray color of Roger's clothing has caught the eye of many fans of the film, though his concern is to talk about the suit as it accentuates Grant's body in support of the star's performance style ( Acting214-16).
9.
For a related discussion by Butler, see her essay " Imitation and Gender Insubordination."
10.
The major articles applying Riviere to film, which I allude to in my comments here, are Doane, "Film and the Masquerade: Theorizing the Female Spectator" ( 1982) and "Masquerade Reconsidered: Further Thoughts on the Female Spectators" ( 1988-89), both reprinted in Femmes Fatales17-43; and Fletcher. See also Irigaray, who describes the feminine masquerade as self-effacement "imposed upon women by male systems of representations" (84), while also seeing it as a form of mimicry, a "play[ing] with mimesis" (76).
11.
See Holmlund's critique of the limits that have been placed on the masquerade as a

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