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Beyond the Looking Glass: Narcissism and Female Stardom in Studio-Era Hollywood

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Beyond the Looking Glass

Narcissism and Female Stardom in Studio-Era Hollywood

Ana Salzberg

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206 pages, 19 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78238-399-4 25% OFF! $90.00/£64.00 $67.50/£48.00 Hb Published (August 2014)

eISBN 978-1-78238-400-7 eBook

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This is a fiercely intelligent, beautifully written, and tremendously appealing book… Successfully marrying film history with film theory, it is meticulously researched, drawing upon a wealth of sources, from the requisite scholarly/theoretical studies to reviews and accounts drawn from popular culture. The analyses of individual films are strikingly original and highly illuminating.”  ·  Elizabeth Ezra, University of Stirling


As living subjects rather than static icons, studio-era Hollywood actresses actively negotiated a balance between their public personas, film roles, and corporeal presence. The contemporary audience’s engagement with the experience of these actresses unsettles the traditional model of narcissistic identification, which divides the off-screen spectator from his/her on-screen ideal.   Exploring the fan’s desire for a material connection to the performer – as well as the star’s own dialogue between embodied experience and idealized image – Beyond the Looking Glass traces on- and off-screen representations of narcissistic femininity in classical Hollywood through studies of stars like Greta Garbo, Ava Gardner, and Marilyn Monroe.  Merging historical and theoretical concerns, with particular attention to the resonance of golden-age Hollywood in new media, this book explores the movie screen as a medium of shared experience between spectator and star.

Ana Salzberg is a lecturer in Film Studies at the University of Dundee. She received her PhD in Film Studies from the University of Edinburgh, and has published on pre-Production Code cinema, Hitchcock’s Vertigo, and stars including Rita Hayworth and Grace Kelly.

Subject: Film Studies
Area: North America


List of illustrations

Introduction: The Narcissistic Woman: Reflections and Projections

Chapter 1. Garbo Talks: Expectation and Realization
Chapter 2. Katharine Hepburn and a Hollywood Story
Chapter 3. Vanishing Differences in Mildred Pierce and Leave Her to Heaven
Chapter 4. One Touch of Venus: Ava Gardner, Rita Hayworth, and the Production Code
Chapter 5. “Wherever there’s magic”: Performance Time in Sunset Boulevard and All About Eve
Chapter 6. Marilyn Monroe: “The Last Glimmering of the Sacred”
Chapter 7. Neo-Screen Tests, Part One: Grace Kelly and Elizabeth Taylor
Chapter 8. Neo-Screen Tests, Part Two: Kidman, Lohan, and the Search for Scarlett

Works Cited

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