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Masculinity and Italian Cinema

Sexual Politics, Social Conflict and Male Crisis in the 1970s

Sergio Rigoletto

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A study of how Italian films re-envisage male identity in response to sexual liberation

How did Italian cinema of the 1970s re-envision masculinity in response to sexual liberation? What role did broader socio-political concerns of the time play in this re-definition? To what extent did this re-envisioning of masculinity intersect with concurrent debates about the function of cinema as a political medium and a mass cultural phenomenon?

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List of Figures
1. Male Crisis: between Apocalypse and Nostalgia
Envisaging the End: Bye Bye Monkey and The Last Woman
Nostalgic Retrievals, Regression and Malizia
Fearing Loss, Performing Power Reversal: City of Women
2. Contesting National Memory: Male Dilemmas and Oedipal Scenarios
Questioning the Father as a Point of Origin: The Spider’s Stratagem
The Oedipal Journey and the Return of the Repressed in The Conformist
3. Undoing Genre, Undoing Masculinity
Gendered Laughter in The Seduction of Mimì
Gay Comedy and the Reflecting Mirror of Masculinity: La patata bollente
Film Romance and the Odd Couple in A Special Day
4. Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Erotic Imagery and the Significance of the Male Body
Exhibiting the Gaze, Exhibiting the Body in Teorema
The Crotch and the Queer Phallus in The Trilogy of Life
6. Male Subjectivity and the Legacy of 1968: Nanni Moretti’s Ecce Bombo
Irony, the Male ‘I’ and Autobiography
The Lack of a Script
Men and Change

About the Author

Sergio Rigoletto is Assistant Professor of Italian and Cinema Studies at the University of Oregon, USA. He has published on film comedy, contemporary queer cinema and Italian television. He is co-editor (with Louis Bayman) of Popular Italian Cinema.


Masculinity and Italian cinema offers a bold and convincing new reading of Italian cinema of the 1970s as a period of self-conscious reflection on the meaning of masculinity. Rigoletto’s fascinating close readings of key films and lucid application of theory bring gender politics into the mainstream of Italian film history.


"Through careful historicisation, theoretical argumentation, and scrupulous formal analysis, Sergio Rigoletto reveals 1970s Italian cinema as a peculiarly rich archive for thinking through the impasses and complexities of masculinity and its representation. This book refreshes and enlarges our understanding of the cinematic and sexual politics of this crucial period."

Dr John David Rhodes, University of Sussex

- Danielle Hipkins, University of Exeter