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What Price Hollywood? (Paperback)

Gender and Sex in the Films of George Cukor

Hobbies & Lifestyle > Film, Media & Television P&S History > Social Science & Culture > Gender Studies

Imprint: University Press of Kentucky
Pages: 224
Illustrations: 26 b&w halftones
ISBN: 9780813197029
Published: 5th May 2024
Casemate UK Academic

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During the early Hollywood sound era, studio director George Cukor produced nearly fifty films in as many years, famously winning the Best Director Oscar at the 1964 Academy Awards for My Fair Lady. His collaborations with so-called difficult actresses such as Katharine Hepburn, Judy Garland, and Marilyn Monroe unsettled producers even as his ticket sales lined their pockets. Fired from Gone with the Wind for giving Vivien Leigh more screen time than Clark Gable, Cukor quickly earned a double-sided reputation as a "woman's director." While the label celebrated his ability to help actresses deliver their best performances, the epithet also branded the gay director as suitable only for work on female-centered movies such as melodramas and romantic comedies. Desperate for success after a failed drag film nearly ended his career, Cukor swore to work within Hollywood's constraints.
Nevertheless, What Price Hollywood? Gender and Sex in the Films of George Cukor finds that Cukor continued to explore gender and sexuality on-screen. Drawing on a broad array of theoretical lenses, Elyce Rae Helford examines how Cukor's award-winning films—titles including My Fair Lady and The Philadelphia Story—as well as his lesser-known films engage Hollywood masculinity and gender performativity through camp, drag, and mixed genres. Blending biography with critical analysis of more than twenty-five films, What Price Hollywood? tells the story of a once-in-a-generation director who produced some of the best films in history.

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