Month/Year of Graduation


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


Art and Art History

First Advisor

Kay Siebler


The Hays Code (1934-1968) influenced the construct of United States masculinity and the discourse surrounding masculine presentation between the 1920s to the 1960s. The Hays Code and World War II affected the culture surrounding male/male relationships in the United States. Previous research done by David Lugowski (1999) and Jeffrey Suzik (1999) shows that both World Wars led to crises of masculinity in which the hegemonic ideal of masculinity was restructured to establish men as providers and warriors, and Code-era films reflected the discourse. To understand the gender roles in the 20th century, I analyzed the Hays code, male bonds, war in relation to masculinity, and the representation of these topics in film. I applied this research to four films: Wings (1927), The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), Rebel Without a Cause(1955), and Midnight Cowboy (1969). My analysis revealed that that films about masculinity made from the 1920s to the end of the Hays Code in 1968 have consistently presented stories involving intimacy. The presentation of male bonds in Code-era films shifted from unabashedly intimate to defensively supporting the hegemonic ideal to avoid implications of queerness, thus obfuscating homosexual desire that was accepted (albeit coded) before the Hays Code.