Megan Harlan
February 07, 1997 AT 05:00 AM EST

Holding My Own in No Man's Land: Women and Men and Film and Feminists

Current Status
In Season
Molly Haskell
Movies, Essays

We gave it an A-

Film critic Haskell opens this poised, pointed collection of essays by arguing a doozy: that Doris Day, archetype of the ”eager-to-please feminine masquerade of the fifties,” was a stealth feminist role model who played competent career gals far more consistently than her peers. It’s a classic Haskell piece — a clear-eyed look at a Hollywood legend that comes with a subversively simple feminist take. Haskell admiringly reconsiders John Wayne’s persona beyond its machismo tag; zestily assesses both aesthetics and cultural relevance in the work of Howard Hawks, Lucille Ball, and Meryl Streep; and deliciously skewers the director Lina Wertmuller (Seven Beauties), who, in her estimation, is an unrepentant sexist. In Holding My Hand In No Man’s Land, only those pieces on non-cinematic subjects — such as the one devoted to makeup — disappoint.

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