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Real Men Don't Need Kisses

June 22, 1986|PAT H. BROESKE

In fact, many of Wayne's films were hugely romantic (including some of his Westerns, like "Angel and the Badman" (1947), with Wayne as a gunslinger and ladies man who finally eschews his wild ways--and a blond saloon girl--for True Love with a pure Quaker girl).

As film historian William K. Everson, author of "Love in Film," pointed out, "Even when Wayne played what might be called a 'Rambo'-type, as in 'Sands of Iwo Jima' (1949), he was shown to be vulnerable to women. Don't forget that that film had flashbacks showing him with his wife."

That audiences tend to remember Wayne as a loner has to do, believes De Souza, with perceptions of the classic mythical heroes.

"They were always on quests. After they finished, they went their ways."

Then there were those legendary tough guys who dallied--and paid a price. Who could forget Samson. His saga in the Book of Judges included lots of strong man stuff (he once killed 1,000 Philistines with the jawbone of an ass) and a liking for the ladies. Especially Delilah. When the Philistines heard about their shenanigans, they offered her money in exchange for uncovering the secret of Samson's strength.

It took some nagging, but Delilah finally learned that it was his long hair and. . . .

(He got revenge when his hair grew back and he toppled an entire Philistine temple, killing thousands--himself included.)

Furthering that you-can't-trust-a-woman syndrome is the age-old notion that, physiologically, men can lose vital energy through sexual activity.

It's a belief that practitioners of at least one major sport still adhere to. Rocky Balboa is one of them.

Granted, there are exceptions to every rule. But according to Southern California boxing promoter Don Fraser (35 years in the biz), boxers still believe that staying celibate prior to a bout increases their strength.

"It's such a traditional sport--it really hasn't changed much through the years," said Fraser, who told of managers who will go to lengths to keep their fighters from women. "They might even take them to out-of-the-way training camps, to make sure they don't do any fraternizing."

Remember the first "Rocky"?

Rocky tells Adrian, "There's no fooling around during training. I want to stay strong."

Admonished by his trainer, Mick, to "lay off that pet shop dame," Rocky even works out at a punching bag while chanting, "Women weaken legs."

When Rocky first met audiences, he didn't qualify as a tough guy. He does now. What started as a love story gradually shifted, becoming, by "Rocky IV," a veritable war between the nations. ("The film is so macho that most of the kissing and hugging is done between men," wrote one critic.

Asked about that transition, Stallone once explained, "There's a certain point where I have to hold back on Adrian--and let Rocky handle his own dilemmas. Because otherwise, it looks as though he's not making up his own mind." Added Stallone, "The audience doesn't want him to get too domestic."

"What these films do--and these films are so fantastic they don't even purport to be realistic--is give an audience the chance to fantasize about not having anyone telling you what to do," said De Souza. "If it's a kid watching, he's had enough of his mom telling him, 'Go do your homework,' and, 'Be sure and be in by 10.' If it's an adult, he gets the same kind of stuff from his wife.

"Audiences don't want to watch someone who has a social life."

According to Chuck Norris, his "heavy duty" love scene in "Silent Rage" brought letters from concerned fans.

"My audience doesn't like me domestic," he has acknowledged. "They want me to be a free spirit. . . . A lot of kids go to see my movies. They don't usually like to see me in steamy stuff."

So he's quit doing those scenes.

Surmised Norris: "I'm not the Richard Gere type, you know. The audience isn't really coming to see me get into heavy love scenes. It's not my image."

And then there are the times that love scenes aren't true to the character.

Schwarzenegger (who had love scenes in both "Conan" films) battled for two months with the "Raw Deal" film makers because they wanted his character to make love to Mob moll Kathryn Harrold. In fact, the film originally was to end with Schwarzenegger going off with Harrold.

But as Schwarzenegger told New York writer Donald Chase, "I think it's much better to have the guy work out his relationship with the wife. . . . I want to do things in the movies that are bigger than what I can do in real life--not less. That would definitely have been less."

If De Souza has his way, Schwarzenegger will get more, and soon. "Because if I have a vote, I will have love scenes in 'Commando II.' " (The sequel, which he is scripting, is scheduled to film next spring.)

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