Astaire and Rogers, Tracy and Hepburn. Just the mention of their
names evokes the powerful chemistry between these screen couples,
which utterly transcended the often formulaic films in which they
appeared together. Indeed, watching the synergistic flow of energy
between charismatic screen partners is one of the great pleasures
of cinema and television, as well as an important vehicle for
thinking through issues of intimacy and gender relations.
In this book, Martha P. Nochimson engages in a groundbreaking
study of screen couple chemistry. She begins by classifying various
types of couples to define what sets the synergistic couple apart
from other onscreen pairings. Then she moves into extended
discussions of four enduring screen couples--Maureen
O'Sullivan/Johnny Weissmuller, Myrna Loy/William Powell, Fred
Astaire/Ginger Rogers, and Katharine Hepburn/Spencer Tracy. Using
theories of neuroscience, she demonstrates that their onscreen
chemistry is a very real phenomenon, powerful enough to subvert
conventional formulations of male/female relations. Material she
has uncovered in the infamous Production Code Administration files
illuminates the historical context of her contentions. Finally,
Nochimson traces the screen couple to its present-day incarnation
in such pairs as Woody Allen/Diane Keaton, Scully/Mulder of The
X-Files, and Cliff/Claire Huxtable of The Cosby Show.
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