Revisiting 38: More male beauty

A return to the subject of my 3/10/16 posting “Male beauty”, on cultural categorizations of attractiveness and masculinity, primarily as evidenced in facial characteristics. Adding to the mix (a) yesterday’s posting on my man Jacques Transue as a young “dreamboat” (“Him, 55 years ago”); and (b) repeated passing references here to the Clint Eastwood of the tv series Rawhide (1959-66) as “young and beautiful, but ruggedly handsome”.

A side by side comparison, understanding that both photographs are posed (though in very different ways) and that J’s photo was adjusted in processing to make it a serious and smoothly generic portrait, while Eastwood’s shows him in cowboy character from an episode of the tv show. J is in an earnest student costume, with accompanying facial expression; Eastwood is in cowboy costume as the young drover Rowdy Yates and (in this photo) is half-smiling, companionably.

(#1) “the guy in the photo has gorgeous eyes, and a long lean face of masculine beauty. A dreamboat, as Virginia [Transue] says.”

(#2) Eastwood (born in 1930) inhabiting his character: also an elegant lean face (though not as long as J’s), with beautiful crinkly eyes

They’re both adorable, but in different ways, in part because they are presented as projecting different personas. And also both strongly masculine.

Also: both tall and lanky, leanly muscular, and with a strong physical presence.

More on JHT. (There will be a good bit more on CE below.) A more candid head shot of J at about the same age as Eastwood in #2:


When I confided in a mutual (gay) friend about this time that J and I had become lovers, the friend (who knew about my sexuality but not J’s) was astounded: “You’re telling me that Jean-Paul Belmondo is gay?!”  A reference to the French actor, especially noted for his role in Breathless (1960). The young Belmondo (born in 1933), another exemplar of male beauty:


Notes on male beauty. Relevant postings before my 3/10/16 one include:

a 8/6/13 posting “Seven Supermen and Brad Pitt”

a 2/29/16 posting “Four mythic hunks”

Among the actors depicted and discussed in these three postings as examples of facial male beauty are Brad Pitt, Robert Redford, Jensen Ackles, and Johnny Depp. I solicited opinions, in a totally unscientific fashion, from a number of women (including two teenagers) and gay men . There was broad agreement over which actors were good-looking, and broad agreement that there were several distinct subcategories of GOODLOOKING-MAN, which they referred to via the labels handsome, cute, beautiful, and hot (with an implicit acknowledgment  that the boundaries were not always clear; with some suggestion that the hot group cross-cuts the other three; and with some inclination to distinguish bad-boy dark beauties like Johnny Depp from sweeter blond beauties like Robert Redford).

It’s clear to me that there’s a rough system of categories here, but one that’s hard to get at through labels in English (and of course exhibits considerable social variability).

There is, in particular, a clearly recognizable subcategory of GOODLOOKING-MAN that has no widely known label in English — unlabeled taxa are in fact fairly common in systems of cultural categories — and it’s relevant to this posting, because it’s the category that Clint Eastwood mostly falls into after his early BEAUTIFUL-MAN period: strikingly tough, even hypermasculine, goodlooking men. Macho hunks, more or less.

You can see the Eastwood Man With No Name character developing in his early years. Here’s the beautiful Eastwood, but shirtless and apparently sexed-up, at 26 (before his success in Rawhide), in a p.r. photo (from the Getty archives):


Then comes Rawhide, in which he smiles a lot, usually with his beautiful eyes  wide open, as in #2. But sometimes the smile comes with narrowed eyes (because he is, after all, frequently squinting into the sun, out on the Texas plains), as here:


And sometimes, as when he’s confronting some problem or nastiness, unsmiling with those narrowed eyes, as here (still from Rawhide):


The beauty has hardened into machismo, and this becomes Eastwood’s default presentation (though the full range of his roles is considerable). From my 5/26/18 posting “Porn for the holidays, with narrowed eyes”:

Narrowed eyes are a regular feature of Clint Eastwood’s characters. Conveying anger, ferocity, intense attention, or dominance, or some combination of these:

(#8) Clint Eastwood Eyes in “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”

We are now a very long way from beautiful. This is one scary dude. Damn good-looking, but whoa!


One Response to “Revisiting 38: More male beauty”

  1. [BLOG] Some Tuesday links | A Bit More Detail Says:

    […] Zwicky considers Jacques Transue in the light of other pop culture figures and […]

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