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Clint Eastwood and Issues of American Masculinity$
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Drucilla Cornell

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780823230129

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: March 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fso/9780823230129.001.0001

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Ties That Bind: The Legacy of a Mother's Love

Ties That Bind: The Legacy of a Mother's Love

(p.80) 3 Ties That Bind: The Legacy of a Mother's Love
Clint Eastwood and Issues of American Masculinity

Drucilla Cornell

Fordham University Press

This chapter analyzes Eastwood's only mature film in the romance genre The Bridges of Madison County (1995). The film follows the female protagonist's erotic gaze as she openly lusts after her male love object, and the film's narrative is essentially hers. Interestingly, Robert James Waller's novel takes the opposite position, relating the conflicts of a male journalist who is a loner struggling to come to terms with the ways in which the first woman to grab his heart disrupts every idea he has of himself and his position in the world. This twist does absolutely nothing to disrupt the fundamental diegetic reality of how the construction of the romance genre is integrally tied into an imagined reality and all of the possibilities therein. Telling the same story but turning it on head by reorienting it from the point of view of the desiring woman, Francesca Johnson (Meryl Streep), Eastwood begins, as we have seen elsewhere, within the conventions of the genre, only to later twist them to bring into question the cultural foundations that support the genre's stereotypic reality. A woman's desire, recorded in loving detail as the camera brings the audience into her world, challenges not only the Hollywood romance genre; it also resists one of the most powerful psychic undertows of our stubbornly sexist culture.

Keywords:   Clint Eastwood, masculinity, The Bridges of Madison County, romance genre

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