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.