Queer Images: A History of Gay and Lesbian Film in America / Edition 1

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Overview

From Thomas Edison's first cinematic experiments to contemporary Hollywood blockbusters, Queer Images chronicles the representation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer sexualities over one hundred years of American film. The most up-to-date and comprehensive book of its kind, it explores not only the ever-changing images of queer characters onscreen, but also the work of queer filmmakers and the cultural histories of queer audiences. Queer Images surveys a wide variety of films, individuals, and subcultures, including the work of discreetly homosexual filmmakers during Hollywood's Golden Age; classical Hollywood's (failed) attempt to purge "sex perversion" from films; the development of gay male camp in Hollywood cinema; queer exploitation films and gay physique films; the queerness of 1960s Underground Film practice; independent lesbian documentaries and experimental films; cinematic responses to the AIDS crisis; the rise and impact of New Queer Cinema; the growth of LGBT film festivals; and how contemporary Hollywood deals with queer issues. This entertaining and insightful book reveals how the meaning of sexual identity—as reflected on the silver screen—has changed a great deal over the decades, and it celebrates both the pioneers and contemporary practitioners of queer film in America. Queer Images is an essential volume for film buffs and anyone interested in sexuality and culture.
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Editorial Reviews

Thomas Waugh
The productive duo Harry Benshoff and Sean Griffin have provided in Queer Images a much-needed survey of a field of ongoing historical discovery and socio-cultural turbulence. An ideal textbook for the burgeoning network of queer cinema undergraduate courses, Queer Images is an elegantly clear and comprehensive, jargon-free update of Vito Russo and Richard Dyer for the queer twenty-first century. The book bursts with vivid questions and case studies drawn from the tapestry of film history—a tonic for an amnesiac generation of readers, queer and otherwise.
Boze Hadleigh
Mssrs. Benshoff and Griffin ably guide the avid reader through this by-now vast yet still under exposed field of entertainment and concern. For better or usually worse, motion pictures and the visual media are overly influential in defining who and what non-heterosexual people are. Understandably, a minority that mostly fails to identify and define itself will be 'explained' and misrepresented by others, especially its cross ill-wishers. Benshoff and Griffin point out, entertainingly and urgently, the false either-or 'thinking' that informs American attitudes toward sexuality and gender in real life and reel life—crucially so, for the huge chunk of citizens who believe they have never met 'a homosexual.' Gay-, lesbian-, and bi-themed films and characters are undeniably engaging—and often upsetting—but as this fun and riveting book makes clear, it's one thing to preach 'liberty and justice for all,' and another to practice it—on screen or in life.
Michelangelo Signorile
Queer Images is an indispensable book for anyone studying the history of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered people in film—and for anyone who just simply loves the movies. Comprehensive and entertaining, Queer Images takes us on a fascinating journey through old Hollywood and up through the world of independent film, looking at queer films, filmmakers, and audiences, and how they treated, reflected—and sometimes shaped—sexuality and sexual identity. An important, timely must-read for film buffs of every stripe.
Alexander Doty
Do you want to know anything and everything about gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, and queer films, filmmakers, and film characters? Then Queer Images is the book for you. It is a one-stop treasure trove of information and sharply written observations. Each chapter is filled with insights and surprises. No other history of queer film has covered so much so skillfully.
William J. Mann
Queer Images is a fascinating, sweeping overview of the ways gay men and lesbians have been portrayed on screen and what those portrayals tell us about who we were—and are—as a society. An impressive achievement.
Chris Holmlund
Kudos for Queer Images! Here's a book for anyone who loves films and for everyone who's interested in broader discussions of sexuality and culture. Chock full of background information on shifting political, cultural, and industry contexts, a gold mine of titles and names, Queer Images is a rewarding read. One of the most comprehensive and up-to-date histories on the topic, Benshoff and Griffin's volume surveys over one hundred years of movies, presents key criticism, and introduces a range of directors, actors, and film execs, too. A well-researched—and timely—addition to the field.
CHOICE
Replaces Vito Russo's The Celluloid Closet as the authoritative text on this subject. Writing in an engaging, literate style, Benshoff and Griffin brilliantly interweave film theory and queer theory with a history of the U.S. film industry, a complicated task. The authors display remarkable, almost archival knowledge of gay representation in classic Hollywood film and the contributions of queer artists to these films. Including an invaluable bibliography, this volume is now the standard for those interested in gay and lesbian film in the U.S. Essential.
Choice
Replaces Vito Russo's The Celluloid Closet as the authoritative text on this subject. Writing in an engaging, literate style, Benshoff and Griffin brilliantly interweave film theory and queer theory with a history of the U.S. film industry, a complicated task. The authors display remarkable, almost archival knowledge of gay representation in classic Hollywood film and the contributions of queer artists to these films. Including an invaluable bibliography, this volume is now the standard for those interested in gay and lesbian film in the U.S. Essential.
Library Journal
Media professors Benshoff (Univ. of North Texas; Monsters in the Closet: Homosexuality and the Horror Film) and Griffin (Southern Methodist Univ.; Tinker Belles and Evil Queens: The Walt Disney Company from the Inside Out) set out to create the definitive guide to queer issues in American cinema, and they have succeeded admirably. Using an erudite yet easily readable approach, they explore homosexuality in the movies, starting mostly with the talking era and moving up to the present. With detached precision, they underscore the clandestine presence of homosexuals in movies and how gays in Hollywood were able to "work in" characters whom audiences could sense were gay. Other issues addressed include homosexual stereotypes in early Hollywood cinema (most, it is adeptly pointed out, were negative), Tinsel Town's puritanical roots, queer exploitation, physique films, AIDS issues, and (particularly) the evolving image of gays in cinema. What's refreshing about this work is that it's not a one-sided criticism but a guide through the more progressive development of the presentation of gays in movies; readers are left with hope for the future. Highly recommended for general, gay and lesbian, and especially film collections.-Michael Tierno, New York Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742519725
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/28/2005
  • Series: Genre and Beyond: A Film Studies Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 1,329,779
  • Product dimensions: 6.12 (w) x 9.05 (h) x 0.77 (d)

Meet the Author

Harry M. Benshoff is associate professor of radio, television, and film at the University of North Texas and author of Monsters in the Closet: Homosexuality and the Horror Film. Sean Griffin is associate professor of film and media studies at Southern Methodist University and author of Tinker Belles and Evil Queens: The Walt Disney Company from the Inside Out. They are the co-authors of America on Film and the co-editors of Queer Cinema: The Film Reader.
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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Introduction: What Is Queer Film History? Chapter 2 1 From Pansies to Predators: Queer Characters in Early American Cinema Chapter 3 2 Discreet Charms: Queer Filmmakers in Classical Hollywood Chapter 4 3 "Those Wonderful People Out There in the Dark": Queer Audiences and Classical Hollywood Cinema Chapter 5 4 Fear and Loathing in Postwar Hollywood Chapter 6 5 Exploitation or Art? Queer Films beyond Hollywood Chapter 7 6 Hollywood and the Sexual Revolution Chapter 8 7 Producing Pride: Queers Make Movies Chapter 9 8 Out of the Closet and into the Art House Chapter 10 9 A Matter of Life and Death: AIDS, Activism, Film, and Video Chapter 11 10 Hollywood Is Burning: New Queer Cinema Chapter 12 11 Queer Eye for the Straight Hollywood Executive Chapter 13 12 Queer Independent Film at the Turn of the Millennium Chapter 14 Select Bibliography
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