Warner Bros. Forgotten Men: Representations of Shifting Masculinities in 1930s Hollywood
Faucette, Michael Brian
University of Kansas
Film & Media Studies
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This dissertation examines the stardom, characters, and and shifting nature of the styles of masculinities enacted by Paul Muni, George Brent, Dick Powell, and Errol Flynn's characters in the films produced during their tenure at Warner Bros. in the 1930s. This study argues that the styles of masculinities in operation on the Warner Bros. lot were in fact more complex and contradictory than previous studies have acknowledged. Robert Sklar argues that the dominant type of masculinity represented by the studio was that of the "city boy." However in examining the films, fan magazines, movie reviews and studio records from the period dealing with Muni, Brent, Powell, and Flynn what is evident is that crafting a unified stable masculine screen presence for each of these men was something that the studio was unable to achieve. The dissertation uses elements of "whiteness," as well as gender, and class to look at how each of these four men and their characters represented an image of American masculinities during the 1930s that attempted to model the various experiences and frustrations of men as a result of the Great Depression.