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Gay joking in straight classics


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#41 DougieB

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Posted 25 November 2015 - 03:17 PM

It was probably a good way to up the butch factor of the lead male by introducing those kind of jokes, to show how masculine he was by contrast or something. Or maybe it had to do with the old chestnut about being so secure in your masculinity that you can dare to do something that outrageous. Part of what I think you were getting at is that it's often the most "manly" ones doing it, so there's the huge surprise factor and therefore a bigger comic payoff. Today, the "joke" is more likely to be lost on us, especially if any real offense is given. It's a good example of how films really are a mirror of their times. Unfortunately, gay-baiting in that way is not a lost art; you still see it today, sometimes with a little more restraint, sometimes not.

 

It's also possible some of it was a wink-wink kind of way for gay writers/directors/actors to telegraph to segments of the audience something only they would really get, the real intent behind the joke, sort of an earlier-day version of "We're here; we're ****; get used to it."

 

There are classic movies which weren't shown for years (and some still aren't) because the racial stereotyping is considered too extreme and can only be read as insensitivity by a modern audience. That hasn't really happened in terms of gay stereotyping and I'm not recommending that it should, that such movies should be withheld, but we need to acknowledge that these old films still have the power to sway minds and influence attitudes. The example you gave of Right Cross seems harmless enough. I know this topic is just a point of interest with you and it's not your intention to raise any kind of alarm and I don't think being too thin-skinned would get gay people anywhere in particular anyway, but it's helpful to talk about these things rather than just shrug them off. Good topic.


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"When Fortuna spins you downward, go out to a movie and get more out of life."...Ignatious J. Reilly, A Confederacy of Dunces


#42 TopBilled

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Posted 25 November 2015 - 12:54 PM

Maybe humor (or something intended as humor but actually more of an insult) is the only acceptable (to themselves) way for some men to express their inner conflicted feelings about all thing gay, or maybe even about the hidden gay elements to their own nature. In those days, it probably predictably got a laugh, so it was an easy way for writers to score points. It happened in movies about the service too, with some soldier or sailor vamping to make all the other guys laugh. Now people see below the surface more and react the way you did.

Thanks for the quick comment, Dougie. I was trying not to 'react' as you say, and I probably would not have even posted about it if it just happened once in the movie-- like if it had been an ad-lib by the actors that the director kept in the final cut. But when it happened several times, and then that restaurant scene with other guys at a nearby table (guys we never see again in the movie), it just seemed very obvious it was all scripted-- and the screenwriter had a hang-up about men being gay.

 

When I made the original post, I was still in the middle of watching RIGHT CROSS. There was another scene later which again referenced Powell liking Montalban as a dog. The dialogue had Montalban saying to Powell, 'I know you are a fancier of canines...' And we also had a scene of Powell on guitar serenading Montalban, singing in Spanish to him.

 

It was a bit much. LOL


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#43 DougieB

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Posted 25 November 2015 - 12:12 PM

Maybe humor (or something intended as humor but actually more of an insult) is the only acceptable (to themselves) way for some men to express their inner conflicted feelings about all thing gay, or maybe even about the hidden gay elements to their own nature. In those days, it probably predictably got a laugh, so it was an easy way for writers to score points. It happened in movies about the service too, with some soldier or sailor vamping to make all the other guys laugh. Now people see below the surface more and react the way you did.


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"When Fortuna spins you downward, go out to a movie and get more out of life."...Ignatious J. Reilly, A Confederacy of Dunces


#44 TopBilled

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Posted 25 November 2015 - 11:42 AM

I'm watching RIGHT CROSS on TCM this morning. Picture is directed by John Sturges. Dick Powell is a sports reporter, and Ricardo Montalban is a fighter. 

 

There's an outdoor scene where the guys talk near a boxing ring and flirt with each other. Then, later Powell tells Montalban he's a dog, and he has a thing for dogs. When they go to Montalban's home, Powell dances with Montalban's mother but later when they leave the apartment, Powell tells Montalban he is the one who does a good rhumba. 

 

Also, there is a restaurant scene where Powell meets Marilyn Monroe for a date, but we see other men sitting at a nearby table. One talks effeminately and makes some off-handed gay joke to another guy. 

 

Obviously, the scriptwriter (Charles Schnee) thought guys teasing and flirting with each other was funny. 


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"The truth? What good is the truth if it destroys us all..?" -- Mady Christians in ALL MY SONS (1948).





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