Creating the Couple: Love, Marriage, and Hollywood Performance

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9780691069692: Creating the Couple: Love, Marriage, and Hollywood Performance
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Who decides how, when, and where Americans fall in love and get married? Virginia Wexman's acute observations about movie stars and acting techniques show that Hollywood has often had the most powerful voice in demonstrating socially sanctioned ways of becoming a couple. Until now serious film critics have paid little attention to the impact of performance styles on American romance, and have often treated "patriarchy," "sexuality," and the "couple" as monolithic and unproblematic concepts. Wexman, however, shows how these notions have been periodically transformed in close association with the appearance, behavior, and persona of the stars of films such as The Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep, Way Down East, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Sunset Boulevard, On the Waterfront, Nashville, House of Games, and Do the Right Thing.


The author focuses first on the way in which traditional marriage norms relate to authorship (the Griffith-Gish collaboration) and genre (John Wayne and the Western). Looking at male and female stardom in terms of the development of "companionate marriage," she discusses the love goddess and the impact of method acting on Hollywood's ideals of maleness. Finally she considers the recent breakdown of the ideal of monogamous marriage in relation to Hollywood's experimentation with self-reflexive acting styles. Creating the Couple is must reading for film scholars and enthusiasts, and it will fascinate everyone interested in the changing relationships of men and women in modern culture.

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So many of our ideas about romance are drawn from the movies. Virginia Wright Wexman claims that in the 20th century our notions of love, sexuality, and "the couple" have been defined by the Hollywood film. Creating the Couple unpacks such ideals. She shows how the cinema's conception of love has been transformed over the years by tracing its development from D. W. Griffith's silent masterpiece Way Down East to Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing. Wexman explores the way images of couplehood changed when confronted by the Hollywood star system, by the love goddess craze, by the method actor, and by the destabilization of conventional ideas of romance in the 1970s and '80s. Creating the Couple offers thoroughly researched analysis, and is lucidly written and intriguingly argued.

From the Back Cover:

The author focuses first on the way in which traditional marriage norms relate to authorship and genre. Looking at male and female stardom in terms of the development of 'companionate marriage, ' she discusses the love goddess and the impact of method acting on Hollywood's ideals of maleness. Finally she considers the recent breakdown of the ideal of monogamous marriage in relation to Hollywood' experimentation with self-reflexive acting styles.

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9780691015354: Creating the Couple

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ISBN 10:  069101535X ISBN 13:  9780691015354
Publisher: Princeton University Press, 1993
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