Impossible Bodies: Femininity and Masculinity at the Movies

Hardcover (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $153.43
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (2) from $153.43   
  • New (1) from $267.26   
  • Used (1) from $153.43   


Impossible Bodies investigates issues of ethnicity, gender and sexuality at the margins of contemporary Hollywood. Examining stars from Arnold Schwarzenegger and Clint Eastwood to Whoopi Goldberg and Jennifer Lopez, Chris Holmlund focuses on actors whose physique or appearance marks them as unusual or exceptional, and yet who occupy key or revealing positions in today's mainstream cinema. Exploring a range of genres and considering both stars and their sidekicks, Holmlund examines ways in which Hollywood accommodates -- or doesn't -- a variety of "impossible" bodies, from the "outrageous" physiques of Dolph Lundgren and Dolly Parton, to the almost-invisible bodies of Asian Americans, Latinas, and older actors. From the Pumping Iron documentaries to The Quick and the Dead and Boys on the Side, Holmlund traces the broad shifts and startling disjunctures in what counts as desirable images of masculinity and femininity in mainstream cinema. From lesbian killers to Swedes who never play Swedes, Impossible Bodies considers how representations of ethnicity and race, gender and sexuality are played out in contemporary Hollywood films, and shows how popular cinema reflects and communicates contemporary values for audiences.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Chon A. Noriega
Chris Holmlund offers a view of contemporary cinema as outrageous as it is unexpected. This is not the Hollywood we thought we knew. Only Holmlund could bring together such a diverse and stimulating collection of onscreen bodies whose vague promises put us in all sorts of compromised positions as viewers and as consumers. Impossible Bodies is an essential guide to the ways in which genre conventions resolve sexual, racial and class differences. Don't go to the movies without it!
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780415185752
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 1/28/2002
  • Series: Comedia Series
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.60 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Chris Holmlund is Associate Professorin Cinema Studfies and Women's Studies at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She is the co-editor of Between the Sheets, in the Streets: Queer, Lesbian, Gay Documentary (Minnesota UP, 1997).
Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

List of figures
Introduction: Impossible bodies, compromised positions 1
Pt. I Gesturing toward genres 13
1 Visible difference and flex appeal: The body, sex, sexuality and race in the Pumping Iron films 15
2 When is a lesbian not a lesbian? The lesbian continuum and the mainstream femme film 31
3 Nouveaux westerns for the 1990s: Genre offshoots, audience reroutes 51
Pt. II Siding with sidekicks 69
4 Cruisin' for a bruisin': Hollywood's deadly (lesbian) dolls 71
5 Swede as "Other" 91
6 Latinas in La-La Land: From bit part to starlet in "indie" and mainstream films 109
Pt. III Staring at stars 123
7 Channeling desire, making Whoopi 125
8 The aging Clint 141
9 Marketing Dolly dialectics: "The Sky is Green, the Grass is Blue" 157
Notes 171
Filmography 207
Selected bibliography 213
Index 225
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)