How to be a hero: space, place and masculinity in The 39 Steps (Hitchcock, UK, 1935)

Devas, Angela (2005) How to be a hero: space, place and masculinity in The 39 Steps (Hitchcock, UK, 1935). Journal of Gender Studies, 14 (1). pp. 45-54. ISSN 1465-3869

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This paper explores the representation of the hero in the 1935 Hitchcock classic "The 39 Steps." The film, while drawing on the original adventure story of "The Thirty Nine Steps," adopts a modernist sensibility in its cinematic depiction of technology and its representation of a bantering heterosexual couple. However, this does not displace the gendered, classed and racialised role of the hero. I examine the construction of the hero via discourses of masculinity, linked to the notion of the flâneur, that is, the right of the male hero to wander, gaze and appropriate different space and place for his own use. Hannay, as the hero, also has the correct credentials of class and "race." This permits him a particular imperialist position which allows him the right of disguise and dissimulation. This freedom assures him a final bourgeois romantic union, consolidating his position as the hero. The role of the hero is one that is not available to women, who are either punished or only permitted to take up the role of heroine, the complementary and lesser partner to the hero.

Item Type: Article
Identifier: 10.1080/0958923042000331489
Keywords: Hero; Representation; Construction; Film; Cinema
Subjects: Film and television
Depositing User: Rod Pow
Date Deposited: 19 Apr 2012 15:32
Last Modified: 06 Feb 2024 15:39

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