We gave it an A-
Film critic Haskell opens this poised, pointed collection of essays by arguing a doozy: that Doris Day, archetype of the ”eager-to-please feminine masquerade of the fifties,” was a stealth feminist role model who played competent career gals far more consistently than her peers. It’s a classic Haskell piece — a clear-eyed look at a Hollywood legend that comes with a subversively simple feminist take. Haskell admiringly reconsiders John Wayne’s persona beyond its machismo tag; zestily assesses both aesthetics and cultural relevance in the work of Howard Hawks, Lucille Ball, and Meryl Streep; and deliciously skewers the director Lina Wertmuller (Seven Beauties), who, in her estimation, is an unrepentant sexist. In Holding My Hand In No Man’s Land, only those pieces on non-cinematic subjects — such as the one devoted to makeup — disappoint.