Gene Tierney in Laura (1944)

Actress Gene Tierney and director Nicholas Ray, the two principle subjects of my scholarship since coming to Syracuse University in 2015, reflect my larger interest in Hollywood cinema from the studio era (roughly from the late 1920s to the early 1960s). In particular, my research focuses on aesthetic practice, personality, and celebrity as interfaces between classical Hollywood and the culture of modernity at the middle of the twentieth century. I am the author of American Stranger: Modernisms, Hollywood, and the Cinema of Nicholas Ray and, with Steven Rybin, the co-editor of Lonely Places, Dangerous Ground: Nicholas Ray in American Cinema.

Currently, I am writing a book under the tentative title, Out of a Misty Dream: Gene Tierney, Female Stardom, and Hollywood’s Homefront. Promoted as “the most beautiful woman in movie history,” Tierney starred in films such as Laura (1944), Leave Her to Heaven (1945), and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947), and later became one of the first stars to battle mental illness publicly. This project examines her star-making at Twentieth Century-Fox during World War II and the immediate years that followed, while seeking to understand an alternative history of war effort and postwar trauma that defined and regulated her image across the roles of pin-up model and working-woman, war bride, maternal domestic, and female psychiatric subject.