CaveGirl

Disabilities on Film

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There are a panoply of films which use characters with disabiities, to deepen the intricacies of the plotlines.

I will start with one of my favorite films of this type, "Peeping Tom" from 1960; the film which mostly destroyed the career of famed director, Michael Powell. This film stars Carl Boehm as a man leading a singularly bizarre yet undetected life, who travels with his camera at all times, with which he is closer to than any human. In the boarding house he owns anonymously, he meets with another tenant, played by Anna Massey, who attempts to break through his shell, not knowing [Spoilers Ahead!] of his sadistic games with models [like Moira Shearer] which involve a lethal tripod which records fear as it destroys. 

Naturally being a tale of sadism,voyeurism and disfigurement, in lesser hands this could have been a debacle with no saving graces. But in the capable hands of Michael Powell, the profound underlying story of Boehm's childhood abuse which resulted in an obsession about regarding fear in others, as a similar experiment to what he was subjected to as a boy, is turned into a magnificent piece of art, and instrumental in this effect is the use of a blind woman, to lead the way in apprehension of what constitutes the normal from the abnormal, that the sighted characters seemingly fail to see. 

Played by Maxine Audley, the part of the sightless mother of Anna Massey symbolizes the victory of internal discernment and true vision over its outer counterparts in a sighted human. She is the only person in the film who seems to sense the mental disturbances of Boehm, and reacts. This knowledge comes due to an inner discernment and wisdom, which Powell shows to great acclaim in his usage of the blind woman and her involvement in the storyline.

Not all films are able to use a character's disability to such effect, but often they do play an important part in the evolution of the intent or focus of the tale in other movies. With the word disability, perhaps meaning a physical or mental condition that can limit one's everyday activities, do you know of any films which are tangential to "Peeping Tom" in the final effect. If you have such a film, you'd like to share, it would be appreciated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Wow! The possibilities are endless. I won't complain how Richard Dreyfuss doesn't get enough love on TCM. That's for another thread. Instead, Mr. Holland's Opus. I suspect hearing loss gets less attention than vision loss on the silver screen. You may be looking for more depth. Not sure. Based on my modest film knowledge, in other words, mainstream, I've seen very few wheelchairs on screen.

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Well, if you are looking for a nice wheelchair flick to enjoy, may I suggest "Kiss of Death" with Richard Widmark as the gigging killer, Tommy Udo. Only watch this though if you are not squeamish about seeing poor, little old ladies pushed beyond their limits.

I am happy to see your entry with MHO. Excellent choice and another Dreyfuss triumph. Thanks, Jimmy!

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Although, of course, blind girls are usually good-hearted and virtuous, since they're able to love our hero for himself without shallow appearances--

How else could we have gotten Audrey Hepburn in "Wait Until Dark"?

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1 hour ago, EricJ said:

Although, of course, blind girls are usually good-hearted and virtuous, since they're able to love our hero for himself without shallow appearances--

How else could we have gotten Audrey Hepburn in "Wait Until Dark"?

You make such a good point, Eric witness the part played by Elizabeth Hartman in "A Patch of Blue" with Poitier.

I only remember the horrid kid in WUD, who not only was the heroine, but had the doll with heroin in it, right?

It's been a long time since I saw that potboiler. Thanks!

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I don’t remember the name of the characters, but The Best Years of Our Lives had several wounded veterans that contributed greatly to that film. 

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I've had to use more of a wheelchair/old-person's scooter to get around nowadays (not that old, just a few of my own genetic burdens), but I like to keep a positive attitude about it:

When going to job interviews, I would joke:  "C'mon, you've seen those cop shows--The department guy in the wheelchair is ALWAYS the brilliant crazy-genius computer hacker who can dig up any information anywhere!"  B)

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"Gaby - A True Story" (1987 is a movie that chronicles the real life of Gabriela Brimmer who was born with cerebral palsy who communicated only through her left foot.  

Gaby-_A_True_Story_VideoCover.jpeg

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8 minutes ago, hamradio said:

Handicapped villains.

Hollis Blofeld (James Bond)

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That's actor John Hollis playing "bald villain in wheelchair". He's meant to be regular Bond villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld, who had appeared in one form or another in several previous Bond films. However, the producers had a fight with the writer who controlled the rights to use Blofeld and his criminal organization SPECTRE, and so they made the goofy wheelchair scene in For Your Eyes Only. You'll notice that they never say his name during that scene. Also, him being in a wheelchair was meant as a joke, based on the number of times that Bond injured and "killed" Blofeld in the previous movies.

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In 23 Paces to Baker Street, Van Johnson plays a blind writer who overhears a kidnapping plot and helps track down the criminals.

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So, how about...

Yep, offhand I'd say here ya have a guy who's learned very well how to work around his disabilities and use them to his advantage.

(...hey, at least I know I could never light MY cigar with my finger, anyway...well, not without it hurtin' like a son of a you-know-what, anyway)

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Some which come to mind:

The Best Years of Our Lives - a character lost both his hands during WWII

No Way Out - a character is deaf

The Asphalt Jungle - a character has a curved back (or something like that)

Period of Adjustment - a character has shaky hands which seem to be the result of his war experiences

Charade - a character has one hand missing

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On 7/23/2018 at 3:29 PM, jimmymac71 said:

Wow! The possibilities are endless. I won't complain how Richard Dreyfuss doesn't get enough love on TCM. That's for another thread. Instead, Mr. Holland's Opus. I suspect hearing loss gets less attention than vision loss on the silver screen. You may be looking for more depth. Not sure. Based on my modest film knowledge, in other words, mainstream, I've seen very few wheelchairs on screen.

Not a lot of love for Dreyfuss from YOU TOO, since you bring up a movie of his in which HIS character has NO disability.  Unlike the unfortunate guy he portrayed in WHO'S LIFE IS IT ANYWAY? 

And....no mention of THE MEN?

How about LIONEL BARRYMORE in both IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE and KEY LARGO......

And although temporary, there's the disability endured by JIMMY STEWART in REAR WINDOW.  ;)

Sepiatone

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Dustin Hoffman in Midnight Cowboy. I don't recall that the actual affliction was mentioned, but his dragging gait significantly limits his movement and gives his defiant assertion that "I'm walking here!" a real resonance. I'm sure it was a big factor in the character's marginalization and seedy lifestyle; doors tend to close in the face of someone like Ratso.

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blindness

  • Bright Victory
  • Dark Victory
  • At First Sight
  • Wait Until Dark
  • Blindness

deafness

  • Children of a Lesser God
  • The Miracle Worker
  • Hear No Evil
  • Hush (2016)
  • Wonderstruck
  • Babel

other disablities

  • My Left Foot
  • The Other Sister
  • I Am Sam
  • The Theory of Everything
  • What's Eating Gilbert Grape

 

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Harold Russell was the double amputee veteran "Best Years of Our Lives" and won a best supporting academy award for his performance. Here he is w/Cathy O'Donnell.

61J5Xjx3S0L._SX425_.jpg.22599bd86a95fbd2365bc7874e223eef.jpg

More recently, Millicent Simmonds portrayed the adolescent daughter of Emily Blunt in "A Quiet Place". The character is deaf and so, too, is Millicent in real life. Although the movie had some gaping holes, I thought her performance was excellent.

 images.jpeg.a3119e6f3d3af70a83a8973c06f470e5.jpeg

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2 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

blindness

  • Bright Victory
  • Dark Victory
  • At First Sight
  • Wait Until Dark
  • Blindness

deafness

  • Children of a Lesser God
  • The Miracle Worker
  • Hear No Evil
  • Hush (2016)
  • Wonderstruck
  • Babel

other disablities

  • My Left Foot
  • The Other Sister
  • I Am Sam
  • The Theory of Everything
  • What's Eating Gilbert Grape

 

 

Wouldn't Forrest Gump qualify for mental disability?

forrest_gump_303722x.jpg

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6 minutes ago, hamradio said:

 

Wouldn't Forrest Gump qualify for mental disability?

 

I believe that was what JimmyMac was implying with his earlier quote from that movie, ham.

(...well, it was either that, or Jimmy was fairly recently gifted with a Whitman Sampler, anyway) ;)

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2 hours ago, Dargo said:

I believe that was what JimmyMac was implying with his earlier quote from that movie, ham.

(...well, it was either that, or Jimmy was fairly recently gifted with a Whitman Sampler, anyway) ;)

Funny stuff Dargo. When are you gonna host TCM? Your KSUE post was the best. Out here in California, we like See's candies.

Blindness: If You Could See What I Hear (1982) - A Patch Of Blue (1965)

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9 hours ago, Sepiatone said:

How about LIONEL BARRYMORE in both IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE and KEY LARGO......

And the Dr. Kildare movies, seeing as Lionel's wheelchair wasn't fictional.

(As Bugs Bunny imitated, the last time he was in a hospital:

88255.jpg

"'<snrrt!> I'M the Mayor of the Town!...Gen-tlemen of the the juryyyy, YOU can't send that poor boy <snrrt!> to prisonnn!...'")

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Just now, jimmymac71 said:

Funny stuff Dargo. When are you gonna host TCM? Your KSUE post was the best. Out here in California, we like See's candies.

Blindness: If You Could See What I Hear (1982) - A Patch Of Blue (1965)

Yeah! See's are the best!

(...especially their dark chocolate nuts and chews)

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