In conjunction with the exhibition The Gender Show (on view through October 13), the Dryden presents films that explore concepts of masculinity and femininity, with an emphasis on works that challenge, rather than uphold, traditional ideas of gender.
The most recent film in the series, Alain Berliner’s Ma vie en rose, was a surprise art-house hit that explores a young boy’s homosexuality (and his parents’ difficulties accepting it) with charm, grace, and wit. Those last three terms can also be applied to I Was a Male War Bride, a classic Howard Hawks collaboration with Cary Grant that allows co-star Ann Sheridan to steadily break down Grant’s “manly” image to hilarious effect.
On the flipside, Sam Fuller’s Forty Guns gives Barbara Stanwyck full command of the titular group of cowboys in a wild scenario that makes Johnny Guitar look like a kiddie serial.
Finally, we’ll conclude with one of the most subversive cinematic looks at gender ever made: Edward D. Wood Jr.’s Glen or Glenda, a film in the form of a bargain-basement Z-movie that veers between unbelievable camp and deeply moving confession.
Lisa Kribs-LaPierre is the former Manager of Online Engagement at the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film.