Category:Men of Film Noir

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An article from 1975 by Laura Mulvey, "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema" argues that although masculinity may be the normative from which femininity is described, masculinity in itself may not be one simple and unchallenged construction.

Masculinity in the movies still revolves around some pretty basic ideals — heroism — toughness — dominance — and in the body of the mainstream (superhero films, crime films, sci-fi, fantasy and comedy etc) the men will always outnumber women substantially.

The industry en fait prefers to remain stereotypical in its gender portrayal, and tends to be demeaning of women, giving them secondary roles, and usually the kind of tropes that feminists have highlighted in decades of criticism.

While this may be the case in the present day, the Film Noir of the 1940s and 1950s shows us that this was a time of crisis in the Hollywood representation of the male.

Often, commentators point to the sense of loss felt by men as they returned from World War 2 to find that women had left the home and were now running the workplace. This is one reason why in film noir, we just about always see what is called the weakened male lead.

All this means is that the men in film noir, are somehow diminished in terms of that normative portrayal. In Hollywood before film noir, and pretty much after the film noir era also, men engineer the happy ending, triumph over the baddies, and as it happens, the story told in most films, over most genres, is that the man gets the woman at the end, and that the whole thing has been one long mating ritual. It's rarely the other way around.

Pages in category ‘Men of Film Noir’

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