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Men on the Screen

Re-visions of Masculinity in Spanish Cinema (1939-2019)


Edited By Juan Rey

Cinema, whether it is understood as entertainment, business, criticism, or art, is always a reflection of the society in which it is born. Men on the Screen is a review of masculinity in cinema made in Spain by Spanish directors from 1939 to the present. The objective of this volume is, then, to observe the different types of masculinities, whose classification gives rise to a chronology that goes from the man who embodies the dream dreamt by the dictator Franco to the modern man, who is lost in his labyrinth, while also examining the repressed men, those men who have strayed and who live in the city, the rascals and braggarts, those who fight every day just to survive, the petty criminals, those men who divest themselves of the rancid national-Catholicism in order to be themselves, those who are caring, those who harass and kill their prey, the heroes, those who seduce women with their gab, corrupt politicians, those who sell their bodies, grandparents, violent and chauvinistic men, those who live in anguish for the passage of time, and even those immured by repressing and hypocritical morality. All of the masculine categories delineated above indicate that cinema is a reflection of the great changes experienced by Spanish society during these years. During this long period, Spain has gone from being a poor, isolated, dark, sad, politically and religiously depressed country to becoming a dynamic, modern country, one of the great countries of the West. And these transformations, these men, who are diverse, who are in conflict at times, and who are depressed, hopeful, hungry, consumerist, and dreamers—they are what cinema gathers. What follows next is a catalog of men who have wandered and roamed the Spanish screens.

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4. Excessively Comical, Even Grotesque Men


Lorena López-Font, Cristina González-Oñate and Carlos Fanjul-Peyró1

Spanish cinema in the Franco era has been studied more as a popular spectacle than as a period of exploration of new languages and film formats. However, in this period, one can find hybrid and suggestive productions that have served as a school for later Spanish cinema. In this chapter we observe and analyze excessively comic male characters, born from one of the most creative couples of Spanish filmmakers, director Luis García Berlanga and screenwriter Rafael Azcona. The aim of this chapter is to look for the ironic, dissonant, and rebellious meanings of several characters in this kind of cinema of the mid-Franco dictatorship in order to find other dimensions hidden in humor.

This chapter will focus on certain actors such as Pepe Isbert, José Luis López Vázquez or Fernando Fernán Gómez, whom Berlanga characterizes as gut actors that become repositories of criticism of the Spanish society of the times.1 The result is a humor not designed to make people smile, but to contrast starkly with reality, to express a sense of claustrophobia in characters who are trapped in moments or circumstances contrary to their will.

Luis García Berlanga belongs to the first wave of film graduates from the Madrid film school, the Institute of Cinematic Investigation and Experience (IIEC), which he joined in 1947. From his first film Esa pareja feliz (That Happy Couple,...

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