An exploration of psychosexual themes in a selection of classic Hollywood films and their contemporary successors by Thomas Wolman. Featuring The Thing from Another World, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Alien, The Maltese Falcon, Wall Street, The Lost Weekend, The Days of Wine and Roses, Leaving Las Vegas, Secretary, Little Children, and Peeping Tom.
The Erotic Screen takes as its starting point that Hollywood movies were steeped in eroticism from the beginning but censorship forced filmmakers to devise hidden sexual subtexts to preserve a film’s subliminal eroticism. In this way, Hollywood films seed our collective psyches with unconscious subtexts. Science fiction films are particularly effective, using horror to induce sexual excitement, as studied in ‘Part I: The nature of desire in a trio of science fiction thrillers.’ Another device was to display unrestricted consumption of alcohol and tobacco and gratuitous spending. Today, this is a cliché of mainstream cinema but some filmmakers expose the dark underbelly. The five films scrutinized in ‘Part II: Portraits of addiction in Hollywood melodrama’ make explicit the connections between greed, addictions, and sexuality. Finally, in ‘Part III: Perverse desire in mainstream cinema,’ the nuanced position toward the psychosexual obsessions on view in the films is investigated by posing the provocative question of whether S&M practice can work as a “cure” for psychic suffering, by raising the alarm over sexuality run amok in a suburban community, and by offering a devastating critique of voyeurism’s “fatal attraction” to viewers.
The Erotic Screen is an investigation of the nature of human sexuality through the medium of film. It stirs up discussion and debate – and helps these movies live on in our minds.
About the author
Part I: The Nature of Desire in a Trio of Science Fiction Thrillers
The Object of Desire: The Thing from Another World
The sleep of desire: Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Female sexuality in Alien
Part II: Portraits of Addiction in Hollywood Melodrama
Psychoanalytic Observations on the Depiction of Greed in Two Hollywood Movies: The Maltese Falcon and Wall Street
The Psychic Under-pinning of Alcoholism: The Lost Weekend, The Days of Wine and Roses, and Leaving Las Vegas
Part III: Perverse Desire in Mainstream Cinema
The S and M Cure in Secretary
Sexual Undertow in Little Children
The Camera as Psychotic Object in Peeping Tom
About the Author:
Thomas Wolman, MD, was born and raised in New York City, where he now lives after residing in Philadelphia PA for forty-four years. He attended Johns Hopkins University and the Pennsylvania State University Medical College. Subsequently, he trained at the Philadelphia Psychoanalytic Center, where he taught in both the psychoanalytic and the psychotherapy training programs. Until his move, he held the title of assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. He has written on Winnicott, Mahler, Kohut and Lacan, as well as on contemporary films, and more recently on greed, bereavement and privacy issues. Currently, he teaches a course on the history of psychoanalysis at the New York Psychoanalytic Institute.