Cold War, hot stuff. The official critical discourse and the desirability of film stars in socialist Romania

Andrei Gadalean*

*Corresponding author for this work

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This article examines the ways in which Romanian socialist politics and state-sanctioned film journalism intersected around film sexuality and foreign film stardom, in order to reinforce the official discourse on sexual morality in the 1960s and 1970s. The ‘60s represented a decade of political and ideological semi-relaxation in socialist Romania. Film audiences retained some access to Western productions, and foreign film stars carried significant erotic appeal to viewers. The state-funded Cinema magazine aimed to disrupt these tendencies either by arguing that the objects of desire were representative of lower quality cinema, or, in full-on Cold War style, by building the case for the decline of Western capitalism through pinpointing all manifestations of sexuality as a symptom of it. This article looks at the ways in which ideological arguments to “redact” film sexuality, while failing to repurpose it, managed to redirect it and reposition it as alien to socialist culture. The article also explores the continuation of this trend during the 1970s, when film stardom and the seductive appeal of film stars were validated by their conformation to political and historical ideologies directly linked to the concerns of the Romanian Communist Party.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)180-195
Number of pages16
JournalStudies in Eastern European Cinema
Issue number2
Early online date25 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Film stars
  • Romanian cinema
  • Eastern Europe
  • Transnational stardom
  • Film criticism
  • State socialism


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