Psycho-Sexual: Male Desire in Hitchcock, de Palma, Scorsese, and Friedkin

Psycho-Sexual: Male Desire in Hitchcock, de Palma, Scorsese, and Friedkin

by David Greven
     
 

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Bridging landmark territory in film studies, Psycho-Sexual is the first book to apply Alfred Hitchcock’s legacy to three key directors of 1970s Hollywood—Brian De Palma, Martin Scorsese, and William Friedkin—whose work suggests the pornographic male gaze that emerged in Hitchcock’s depiction of the voyeuristic,

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Overview

Bridging landmark territory in film studies, Psycho-Sexual is the first book to apply Alfred Hitchcock’s legacy to three key directors of 1970s Hollywood—Brian De Palma, Martin Scorsese, and William Friedkin—whose work suggests the pornographic male gaze that emerged in Hitchcock’s depiction of the voyeuristic, homoerotically inclined American man. Combining queer theory with a psychoanalytic perspective, David Greven begins with a reconsideration of Psycho and the 1956 remake of The Man Who Knew Too Much to introduce the filmmaker’s evolutionary development of American masculinity.

Psycho-Sexual probes De Palma’s early Vietnam War draft-dodger comedies as well as his film Dressed to Kill, along with Scorsese’s Taxi Driver and Friedkin’s Cruising as reactions to and inventive elaborations upon Hitchcock’s gendered themes and aesthetic approaches. Greven demonstrates how the significant political achievement of these films arises from a deeply disturbing, violent, even sorrowful psychological and social context. Engaging with contemporary theories of pornography while establishing pornography’s emergence during the classical Hollywood era, Greven argues that New Hollywood filmmakers seized upon Hitchcock’s radical decentering of heterosexual male dominance. The resulting images of heterosexual male ambivalence allowed for an investment in same-sex desire; an aura of homophobia became informed by a fascination with the homoerotic. Psycho-Sexual also explores the broader gender crisis and disorganization that permeated the Cold War and New Hollywood eras, reimagining the defining premises of Hitchcock criticism.

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Editorial Reviews

Slant magazine - Clayton Dillard
"By placing text before theory, Greven's labored, good-faith book stands higher than merely auteur appreciation: It demands serious consideration across many disciplinary planes, both historic and theoretical, as an exemplary, immanently readable call for serious, revisionist film-studies texts, while serving as one itself."
Choice - M. J. Emery
"Greven takes a sustained look at the psychosexual dynamics of masculine desire found in two generations of American filmmakers...The author's nuanced readings suggest how profoundly Hitchcock influenced his successors...Summing Up: Recommended."
Cineaste

"Like the best critical studies, Greven incisively cuts (or, with these particular films, slashes) in multiple directions at once: gender studies (masculinity as well as feminism); queer studies; (adeptly revised) psychoanalytic film theories; and historical context, all supported by close readings that deftly defamiliarize much discussed work (like Psycho, Taxi Driver, and Cruising) while also satisfyingly exhuming neglected others (e.g., De Palma's early comedies."

Film Criticism
"Anyone interested in intelligent, insightful film criticism will find much to admire in the close analysis on display here."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780292756762
Publisher:
University of Texas Press
Publication date:
11/01/2013
Pages:
312
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

What People are saying about this

Tony Williams
"Innovative and sophisticated. A very well-written and sophisticated contribution to both film studies and queer scholarship. . . . The best work of scholarship I’ve read this year in terms of its critical approach."
Susan M. White
"A great contribution to the scholarship on all the films it considers."

Meet the Author

David Greven is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Literatures in English at Connecticut College. His books include Representations of Femininity in American Genre Cinema, Manhood in Hollywood from Bush to Bush, and Men Beyond Desire: Manhood, Sex, and Violation in American Literature.

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