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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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7. The Latin Lover Who Degenerates into an Iberian Male


Francisco-Javier Gómez-Pérez1

The film Manolo la nuit (Mariano Ozores, 1973) begins with a voice-over that says:

From the times of Rodolfo Valentino, Latin lovers have had lots of success. Then again, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. That is why the one who draws the deepest admiration in his path is that colossal product that came out of the crossing of two strong, rough and primitive peoples, the Celts and the Iberians. We are referring to the Spanish Celtiberian male, who, in this case, is called Manolo.

The voice-over, after praising the benefits of the sun and the Spanish climate in contrast to the inclement Nordic weather, presents a bus full of girls arriving in Torremolinos (Malaga) looking for “the sun, the paella, the bullfights, and also, let it be said, romance, adventure.”

Starting in the 1960s, the dictatorial regime slightly loosens the grip to which the Spaniards were subjected. Certain liberalization begins that makes Europeans stop looking at Spain like an African country, a country that little by little becomes European. Spain goes from being considered a barbarian country to being acknowledged as an exotic territory. This is achieved through a series of political changes such as the entry of Spain into the United Nations, the signing of the concordat with the Holy See and the agreements with the United States to build military bases in Spanish territory.

The opening of borders in...

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