Category Archives: Film

A Requiem for Manhood

By Paul Nathanson

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Yesterday was a fine spring day. On my way out for the afternoon, I saw some yellow tulips shyly lifting their heads to the sky and the first bright and feathery leaves unfolding on branches. And yet I spent the afternoon indoors at a movie. It’s about the decline of manhood and therefore should be of great interest to everyone who cares about men. Here’s a synopsis of The Rider (Chloé Zhao, 2018).

Its setting is a Lakota reservation in the “badlands” of North Dakota. Brady is a beautiful young man, who loves horses and can’t imagine a life without caring for them and riding them. He lives in poverty with his retarded younger sister and widowed father. But Brady has a big problem, Continue reading A Requiem for Manhood

The Price of Pacifism:

By Paul Nathanson

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The Great War produced several fine movies during the 1920s and 1930s (before the next war became a topic of greater urgency). Notable among these are Wings (William Wellman, 1927), Sister in White (Victor Fleming, 1933), A Farewell to Arms (Frank Borzage, 1932) and, most notable by far, All Quiet on the Western Front (Lewis Milestone, 1930). Like The Birth of a Nation (D.W. Griffith, 1915) this was a cinematic landmark with political consequences. Critics have compared other war movies to All Quiet ever since.

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Men Must Fight (Edgar Selwyn, 1933) begins during the Great War and continues until the outbreak of another war twenty years later. Laura works as a military nurse just behind the front line in France and soon falls in love with Geoffrey, an American pilot. The two plan to marry. Before they can do so, however, Laura becomes pregnant with his child. Meanwhile, Edward, an officer, falls in love Continue reading The Price of Pacifism:

From Sex to Sexual Harassment in the Movie Industry

Paul Nathanson ©2019

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Beginning on 5 October 2017, a long series of sex scandals shook the entertainment industry and other industries that allowed immensely powerful men access to immensely beautiful young women (or immensely beautiful young men). By now, the “casting couch” has become a dirty secret, better known as sexual harassment. But it was not always a secret, let alone a dirty one. The recent scandals reveal a change in standards of sexual behavior, one that would have surprised or even dismayed the men and women of an earlier generation—notably the hedonistic one that began during the 1960s and came to a sudden end (after a decade of dissatisfaction) this very year. My goal here is not to justify sexual harassment, which I define as coercive and intimidating sexual behavior, but to examine some non-coercive and non-intimidating forms of behavior that people now consider sexual harassment but did not always do so.

In this essay, I discuss (1) what has always gone on in front of the cameras and (2) what has always gone on behind the cameras.

During the Great Depression, Warner Brothers produced several backstage musicals, in fact, which refer by innuendo to casting couches in New York’s theater industry. By far the most famous and successful of its kind was 42nd. Street (Lloyd Bacon, 1933).

Continue reading From Sex to Sexual Harassment in the Movie Industry