It's no coincidence of costuming that the story lines render them frequently bare-chested. And the cameras make caressing, lingering love to their muscular bodies much the same way Playboy leers at its centerfold women. Heightening the emotional (and sexual) intensity is a fixation with weaponry. There are close-ups of guns hugged tightly to sweaty chests, of grenades in clenched fists, of ominous cutlery being stroked tenderly.
As a climax, the star may hoist his automatic rifle and stare intently through the scope--and at the audience.
But, hey!, there's something missing--women.
There is a curious new twist to a pervasive Hollywood genre. It involves sexuality and male stars. And it presents the dichotomy that women figure only peripherally in these films--and there is no consummation of relationships.
Welcome to tough-guy terrain.
Adventure and macho heroes dominate this world. (And here the word macho delineates one no-nonsense rough customer who is in no way, shape or form a wimp.)
Played by actors like Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Chuck Norris, and such antecedents as Clint Eastwood and Charles Bronson, they are men with a mission--modern-day warriors who adhere to a tradition that forbids desires of the heart.
In "Raw Deal," ex-FBI agent Schwarzenegger is attracted to the dishy, Mob-connected Kathryn Harrold.
And one night, following conversation and champagne, they make their way tipsily to her bedroom. Lustfully, Harrold rips open his shirt. She is awed: "Oh my God."
Suffice to say that plot twists keep the two from ever consummating the evening. Before the Big Moment takes place--in fact, before any foreplay occurs--Schwarzenegger appears to have passed out.
In "Commando," Rae Dawn Chong is Schwarzenegger's reluctant sidekick--but she's strictly along for the ride (he commandeers her teensy sports car) and the banter. And it's Schwarzenegger who gets the hubba-hubba treatment from the camera. First seen in shorts and tank top, he will later strip down to bikini underwear. And then there's the scene in which he dons his "commando" regalia. As he tightens straps and applies camouflage and readies his weaponry, a smoky haze billows about him.
(Where the haze came from is a mystery. Up to this time, it was a perfectly clear, sunny day.)
Stallone's ally in "Rambo: First Blood Part II" is a brave Vietnamese girl who lets him know that she's attracted to him. Will the doomed John Rambo have someone to care about? But after the couple share a brief, sweet kiss, she's cut down by enemy gunfire. Stallone cradles her in his arms. "You not forget me?" she asks dyingly.
Before embarking on the film's climactic fight, he dons her jade necklace and a red headband cut from the fabric of her dress.
"Cobra" finds Stallone cast opposite real wife Brigitte Nielsen. But he's so busy killing killers, he doesn't have time to play Romeo. Except for ever-so briefly: She asks him if he sees many women. His answer: "Now and then. Nothing regular. Not many people could put up with the way I live." She pats the bed she's sitting on and says, "Would you come over here, please." He does. They briefly pucker up. End of on screen romance.
In "The Delta Force," Norris is too busy saving hostage airline passengers to bother with women. There simply isn't time. But in "Invasion U.S.A.," he does keep running into the same spunky female photojournalist. Mild sparks fly --along with Norris' standard line to her, "Catch ya later." The inference is that after peace has been restored to the nation, he might ask her for a date.
As dashing Tag Taggar in "Getting Even," Edward Albert is dashing. But he has no time for Audrey Landers--who we think may be a former girlfriend. (The script doesn't elaborate, but she does seductively lick his chest in one scene.) Heck, he's too busy thwarting a crazed industrialist who's threatening to blow Texas to smithereens.
Currently filming in Mexico, "Firewalker" finds Norris and Lou Gossett Jr., as two down-and-out soldiers of fortune who happen upon Melody Anderson. She's got a map to an Aztec treasure. Oh, and she's beautiful. But romance will have to wait. The emphasis is on adventure, as Norris and Gossett fend off a merciless Aztec warrior. (Projected release is November.)
In "Predator," now in post-production, Schwarzenegger leads a military rescue unit through the Central American jungle where he encounters guerrilla fighter Elpidia Carillo. She later becomes a kind of sidekick--at least temporarily--until the film becomes a battle to the death between Schwarzenegger and a trophy-hunting alien. (Projected release is summer, 1987.)
Rest assured--these guys don't suffer from any crisis in sexual identity.