Heroes, Antiheroes and Dolts

Portrayals of Masculinity in American Popular Films, 1921–1999


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About the Book

This book is a discussion of 75 of the most popular films in America from 1921 through 1999 and the changes that have taken place in how masculinity is portrayed in the movies over that period of time. Traditionally in popular films, men have met challenging tasks, but what they accomplish and how successful they are have been drastically changed since the early 1920s. Prior to World War II, men were most often presented within the context of a family. After the war, men were presented as concerned with issues beyond their immediate families, and after 1970, they were portrayed as being overwhelmed by their situations. Recently, popular films have tended to focus on the relationships between men. This work documents these changes over eight decades, using the movies as vehicles to illustrate the major transformations.

About the Author(s)

Ashton D. Trice is an associate professor of psychology at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia.
Samuel A. Holland is a psychology graduate student at James Madison University.

Bibliographic Details

Ashton D. Trice and Samuel A. Holland
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 243
Bibliographic Info: photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2001
pISBN: 978-0-7864-1097-2
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5094-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface     vii

Introduction     1


Valentino, the First Star?     9

1939     19

HEROES     41

Musicals of World War II     43

Men as Objects: Men in the Weepies     54

Casablanca    64


Revisioning the War      77

Saints and Sinners: Masculinity in the Biblical Epics     96

The Good ’50s Family: Shane      113

Love Is Having to Say You’re Sorry: Dysfunctional Families     126

Bond: Stirred, Not Shaken     144


Star Wars     167

Disney’s Men and Boys     178

Gump and Gumper: Men as Idiots    192

Post-Feminist Heroes: Jack and Shakespeare     204

Chapter Notes     215

Bibliography     225

Index     229

Book Reviews & Awards

“very sharp insight…everything from Valentino to James Bond…thought-provoking”—Classic Images.