"Shut Up, Baby" - Exploring Masculinity on Film

Duration: 120 min

Six weeks on Thursdays from 28 Feb, 7–9pm
The course will take place in the Education Room at Hackney Picturehouse
Lecturer: Dr Katie Da Cunha Lewin


In this six-week course, we explore the wide variety of ways that men have been represented in films made during Hollywood's "golden age" up until 1950. Each week we will explore a different period or theme through watching film clips and guided group discussion. We also focus on the work of numerous famous men from the early, pre-code and Golden Age Hollywood, including Rudolph Valentino, Clark Gable, William Powell, Edward G. Robinson and Humphrey Bogart.

Week 1: The Leading Man: early Hollywood

For our first week, we look at some films that star some of Hollywood’s famous leading men including Charlie Chaplin, Rudolph Valentino, and Douglas Fairbanks. We discuss the wide variety of performance style and the hybridity of early Hollywood, including the influence of dance, theatre performance and vaudeville.

Suggested Viewing:

A Woman (1915)
The Sheik (1921)
The Three Musketeers (1921)

Week 2: The Leading Man: Pre-code

This week we focus on films from the period before the implementation of the Hollywood Production Code in 1934. In this unrestricted period, films could be a lot more risqué; sex, drinking and drugs were all allowed which gave actors opportunities to explore character in new ways. We look particularly at William Powell and Clark Gable.

Suggested films:

The Thin Man (1934)
It Happened One Night (1934)

Week 3: Crime films 1920s + 30s

In the 1930s crime and gangster films were very popular with cinema audiences. We look at this genre and think about what it tells us of the time, and focus on the performances of Edward G. Robinson, Paul Muni and James Cagney.

Suggested viewing:

Little Caesar (1931)
Public Enemy (1931)

Week 4: Masculinity in WWII

During WWII, Hollywood became another part of the war machine, and stars were often roped in to sell war-bonds and function as propaganda. We discuss some of the films being made at this time and their effects on the presentation of masculinity. We also think about war films more generally and their portrayal of violence and death, but also male friendship and comradery.

Week 5: Film Noirs 1940s

Post-WWII the Western world was left with many questions. There was also a new influence from Europe due to the influx of writers and directors fleeing the Nazis. Films became darker, and more pessimistic. We discuss the birth of film noir, and focus on two films which are considered to be some of the first of the genre, thinking particularly about the performance style of the inimitable Humphrey Bogart.

Suggested viewing:

Maltese Falcon (1941)
The Woman in the Window (1944)

Week 6: Gay Hollywood: Masculinity and homosexuality

This week we think about the way that Hollywood films depict same sex desire. We explore the history of gay men on screen, and focus particularly on the Hitchcock film Rope.

Suggested viewing:

Dickson Sound Experiment (1895)
Design for Living 1933
Rope (1948)

Tickets are £70 for the full six-week course (£65 concession / £60 Picturehouse Members).




Club and Group screenings

Thu 28th Feb 19.00 Film Course.



Back to top