Hollywood Androgyny

Hollywood Androgyny

Hollywood Androgyny

Hollywood Androgyny

Synopsis

A renowned film scholar reveals the surprisingly frequent instances of cross-dressing, transvestism, and every kind of gender-bending in more than 250 films from Sylvia Scarlett to The Crying Game.

Excerpt

The approach in this work is eclectic, in order to accommodate a wide variety of periods and types of films, ranging from standard Hollywood productions to highly idiosyncratic underground works. With some films, I have gone into detail on the cultural background and critical reception of the film to highlight how it reflects contemporaneous social concerns. in other cases, I have examined the influential work of a director, actor, or actress who, despite commercial pressures, has managed to put his or her personal stamp on the image of androgyny.

In almost all of the films examined in detail, I have analyzed the extent to which the film is an open vehicle offering opportunities for exploration and uncertainty, or the extent to which a film's presentation of role reversal reinforces rigid social standards, presenting a closed universe in which aberrations are neatly squelched. I have attempted to select representative films for detailed analysis, without neglecting the interesting exceptions, for both kinds of films reveal much about how the filmmakers, the popular culture, and various subcultures perceive the boundaries of sexual expression.

One of the main questions in analyzing specific films is the extent to which the narrative, performances, and direction actually explore sexual variation and fathom the protean essence of androgyny. the approach to the films in this book is eclectic, for the films of different periods, styles, and intended audiences call for a variety of observations. in the discussion of men dressed as women before 1960, I have concentrated on the contrast between two key films, Howard Hawks' I Was a Male War Bride (1949) and Billy Wilder Some Like It Hot (1959), two works at opposite ends of the spectrum in popular comedies before 1960. Bride reflects a . . .

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