Public bodies, private moments : method acting and American cinema in the 1950s
The thesis deals with two central issues: a) the construction of a framework for the study of film acting which places performance in a cultural context b) the cultural significance of Method acting during the 1950s with specific reference to American cinema of the period The first chapter considers the ways in which the voice and body in film acting are made meaningful in the context of beliefs about acting and personal identity. The chapter also proposes ways for situating the practical activity of film acting in a context of cultural production. The remaining chapters study the cultural significance of Method acting through separate analyses of the Method technique, style, representation of gender, and image of star performance. Readings of the Method technique and style are placed in the context of a `culture of personality', in which the significance of the Method was produced in the ways that acting signified beliefs about personal identity. The discussion of the Method style is then developed in the analysis of the ways in which the style was used in film melodramas to represent the gendered anxieties of the rebel hero. Finally, Marlon Brando's image and performances are studied for how the actor personified the meaning of the Method. Together, technique, style, gender representation, and stardom, are studied as various aspects of what is called the Method discourse.