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Lady Chatterley's Legacy in the Movies

Sex, Brains, and Body Guys

Peter Lehman and Susan Hunt

Publication Year: 2010

A new "body guy" genre has emerged in film during the last twenty years-a working-class man of the earth or bohemian artist awakens and fulfills the sexuality of a beautiful, intelligent woman frequently married or engaged to a sexually incompetent, educated, upper-class man. Lady Chatterley's Legacy in the Movies relates a host of wide-ranging films to a literary tradition dating back to Lady Chatterley's Lover and an emerging body culture of our time. The authors argue that the hero's body, lovemaking style, and penis-revealed through extensive male nudity-celebrate conformity to norms of masculinity and male sexuality.

Published by: Rutgers University Press


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pp. vii


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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xii

This book has grown out of work we have been doing together for ten years, and there are many more people than we could ever thank who have helped and encouraged us with feedback on conference papers, journal articles, and book chapters over the years. We are especially grateful to Bill Luhr, Bob Eberwein, and Santi Fouz-Hernández. We’d also like to thank the editors who ...

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1. “Everything You Are Is between Your Legs”

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pp. 1-26

Titanic (1997) is still “king of the world” at the box office, grossing more money worldwide than any other film in history. For his epic tale, writerproducer- director James Cameron masterfully intertwines a broad array of genres: romance, action, adventure, and historical drama. The film belongs to yet another category, which has flourished virtually unnoticed for the past ...

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2. Rebels, Outsiders, Artists, and... Brutes?

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pp. 27-52

In Moonlight and Valentino (1995), Rebecca, a widowed college instructor, is having “too delicious” sex with the guy who’s painting her house. At one point she asks him if he’s “really an artist—an oil painter who just paints houses as a sideline.” He replies, “No, I’m a house painter. I paint signs as a sideline.” No, the classic body guys in cinema are not intellectuals in disguise, bringing in a few dollars on the side to enable their loftier goals and passions. ...

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3. “Fuck Me like a Cop, Not a Lawyer”

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pp. 53-78

The body guys do not offer their gold-medal sex style to just any women in the films of the genre. These women are not only beautiful but intelligent. The Harvard-educated Samuel (Henry Thomas) says of his fiancée Susannah (Julia Ormond) in Legends of the Fall (1994), “She’s got me spinning. She’s got these ideas and theories, and she’s . . . she’s sorta passionate.” Samuel confesses to his earthy brother, Tristan (Brad Pitt), that he’s afraid he won’t meet Susannah’s sexual expectations. ...

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4. “Brain Work Isn’t Much of a Spectator Sport”

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pp. 79-104

In From Reverence to Rape, Molly Haskell writes of early Hollywood films: “A woman’s intelligence was the equivalent of a man’s penis: something to be kept out of sight” (4). Ironically, the second edition of Haskell’s book was published in 1987, on the cusp of the body-guy genre’s emergence. This was the very moment educated and professional women reached historic “visibility” in America, and the penis came into sight in movies. Haskell and the body-guy ...

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5. Hung like a Horse... or an Acorn

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pp. 105-135

Within the body culture, people will pay money to see the sexy body but are not yet lining up on the fifty-yard line to watch the sexy mind at work. From this perspective, the undervalued brain is made up for by the overvalued penis. If we have trouble imagining the mind as sexy, we have equal trouble imagining sex without the thrusting good-sized penis. This model of lovemaking is so ...

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6. Unmaking Love

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pp. 136-160

Mae West once famously remarked, “Sex is emotion in motion.” Her statement is uncannily reminiscent of the way many people speak of the medium that made Mae West famous: the movies. Many see motion as the essence of movies, and much bad filmmaking and film criticism has followed from accepting simplistic assumptions about this essentialist nature of cinema. In order to be “cinematic” movies should have action and not rely too much on ...

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7. “Why Do You Say That as if It Were a Weakness? It’s Not.”

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pp. 161-184

The opening scene of Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008) got a lot of press from film critics, primarily because of the frontal male nudity. Indeed, the film may be a first. When penises appear in movies, most reviewers don’t even mention them, let alone grant them detailed attention. Significantly, with this film the reception context began preopening, when the film’s star and ...


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pp. 185-189


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pp. 191-194


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pp. 195-200

About the Authors

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E-ISBN-13: 9780813550299
E-ISBN-10: 0813550297
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813548029
Print-ISBN-10: 0813548020

Page Count: 256
Illustrations: 40 photographs
Publication Year: 2010

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Men in motion pictures.
  • Sex role in motion pictures.
  • Stereotypes (Social psychology) in motion pictures.
  • Women in motion pictures.
  • Sex in motion pictures.
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