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hepclassic

If This Exists...I'd love to know

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Are there any films made before 1968 in which does not have shaming of the GLBT individual in some way? I mean, there are the precodes of course, but anything specifically showing a GLBT character that is not just comic relief, not in prison, and not a serial killer? 

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Are there any films made before 1968 in which does not have shaming of the GLBT individual in some way? I mean, there are the precodes of course, but anything specifically showing a GLBT character that is not just comic relief, not in prison, and not a serial killer? 

What about Monty Woolley playing himself in NIGHT AND DAY, a fictionalized account of Cole Porter's life. Obviously, they do not come out and discuss his sexuality, but they did make a point to include him-- when he and Porter were friends and gay. So I would count that as a positive nod.  

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I'm not sure why, but the first thing that came to mind was "Winter Meeting" (1948). John Hoyt plays Bette Davis' character's "best friend" and he's considered to be someone she can rely on for sound advice and good conversation. He isn't named as gay (Who was in 1948?) but it's obvious he's her GBF. It's treated very matter-of-factly, with no eyebrows raised or shaming of the individual.

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I'm not sure why, but the first thing that came to mind was "Winter Meeting" (1948). John Hoyt plays Bette Davis' character's "best friend" and he's considered to be someone she can rely on for sound advice and good conversation. He isn't named as gay (Who was in 1948?) but it's obvious he's her GBF. It's treated very matter-of-factly, with no eyebrows raised or shaming of the individual.

 

Doesn't something similar take place in the Hepburn \ Tracy movie Without Love?     I believe Hepburn has a male secretary \ assistance.    Of course he isn't named as gay but to me it's obvious (especially concerning his job role given the times).

 

Now at the end Tracy does get physical with the guy but I don't think that is because he was jealous but instead because he was a pain and got in the way of his relationship with Hepburn.

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Doesn't something similar take place in the Hepburn \ Tracy movie Without Love?     I believe Hepburn has a male secretary \ assistance.    Of course he isn't named as gay but to me it's obvious (especially concerning his job role given the times).

 

Now at the end Tracy does get physical with the guy but I don't think that is because he was jealous but instead because he was a pain and got in the way of his relationship with Hepburn.

Are you thinking Woman of the Year? 

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In "Woman of the Year" the guy is pretty consistantly a pain in the neck and seems to have been set up as a comic foil so Tracy could sock him later. I wouldn't be surprised if there were cheers in theaters back then when that happened, so it would involve the shaming  the OP was talking about.

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In "Woman of the Year" the guy is pretty consistantly a pain in the neck and seems to have been set up as a comic foil so Tracy could sock him later. I wouldn't be surprised if there were cheers in theaters back then when that happened, so it would involve the shaming  the OP was talking about.

 

Yes,  as hepclassic pointed out (and she should know!) I was confused and thinking of Women of the Year.    But I still feel that character (if I'm not confused yet again),   was a gay type of BBF.  Why?  Because I don't rememeber him showing any sexual interest in the Hepburn.   Typically when there are 2 suitors the plot calls for some type of sexual tension between the characters.  

 

I saw Teachers Pet with Gable,  Day and Gig Young just the other day (MOVIES is showing it a lot).   In this movie there is also little sexual tension between Young and Day.   e.g. when Young finds out Gable is in love with Day (and likely vise-versa),  he doesn't bat an eye.  Instead he is right there to help Gable.

 

But in Teacher's Pet I don't get the same vibe from the Young character as I do the third wheel in Women of the Year. 

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Hey, james. Unless I'm remembering wrong, isn't the guy in "Woman of the Year" her assistant, not a suitor? My memory is that they made the character a feminized male to be a counterpoint to her masculinized female. Their professional relationship shows a role reversal and even though it's done for comic effect, they both have to be taken down a peg by the end of the movie and it's the "legitimate" male (Tracy) who gets to do it. I'm not disputing that the character reads as gay, but this thread is about characters who were allowed to be gay onscreen without being shamed because of it and that guy was definitely targeted for retribution. Your mentioning Gig Young in "Teacher's Pet" is interesting, since he always seemed to play the "Ralph Bellamy" role of the second lead who supposedly represents an alternate suitor but who was usually portrayed as less "manly" than the lead and a little squishier personality-wise, so that the audience wouldn't really invest in that character, but would support the male lead instead. I never really thought those characters were "gay", but traditional masculinity (or the lack of it) was definitely the standard by which they were judged.

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I agree with Doug that the assistant in WOTY isn't a positive gay character (assuming the producer’s intention was to have a gay character), but instead falls into the typical stereotypes used at the time.   e.g. A man being an assistant especially to a strong women,  with the stereotype that, of course,  such a man is 'weak' just based on his job role (kind of like a man being a nurse BS).   So you’re correct that he doesn't fit the theme of this thread but instead is an example of where Hollywood would marginalize a gay character.

 

Related to Teacher’s Pet and Gig Young;  You hit the nail on the head.    Yea, I assume his character wasn’t gay in the movie but my wife felt the plot would have made more sense if he was a gay BBF type.     She said something like ‘that Young guy is very handsome,  and Gable is worn out looking,  why would Day’s character drop Young so quickly for Gable unless Young was only just a friend,  and the only way I could be friends with that handsome of a man was if he was gay’.

 

So she felt the plot would of worked better if a less attractive, average type man played that role.   Hey I wonder if Gable felt the same way.

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I agree with Doug that the assistant in WOTY isn't a positive gay character (assuming the producer’s intention was to have a gay character), but instead falls into the typical stereotypes used at the time.   e.g. A man being an assistant especially to a strong women,  with the stereotype that, of course,  such a man is 'weak' just based on his job role (kind of like a man being a nurse BS).   So you’re correct that he doesn't fit the theme of this thread but instead is an example of where Hollywood would marginalize a gay character.

 

Still, it is great to think and discuss this. I am definitely looking more into the films suggested here. 

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I read about a movie made in the late 40's/ 50's about two men who seemed to be having a relationship- I believe it was set in New York - it was not a major studio production perhaps an independent studio.

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I read about a movie made in the late 40's/ 50's about two men who seemed to be having a relationship- I believe it was set in New York - it was not a major studio production perhaps an independent studio.

 

Could be The Big Combo released in 1945.    The two henchmen are named Fante and Mingo.

 

It was common in movies of the time to give gay characters uncommon names. 

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Another one, though it's set in the Southwest, not New York, would be "Desert Fury" (1947). John Hodiak plays Eddie, a small-time hood coming back home with Wendell Corey (Johnny) in tow. Nothing is explicitly gay, but the most amazing details about the men's relationship keep piling up. Eddie's wife had died in a car crash just before he left, so he's established as straight. He also zeros in on Lisabeth Scott, which really sets Johnny off. Johnny is unbelievably rude to her and tells her bluntly to leave Eddie alone. Eddie gives her the house tour, where we learn that Johnny is the "housekeeper" and we also see the one rumpled bed. She asks Eddie how he met Johnny and he tells her it was at the Automat at 2:00 AM one Saturday night. He had no money, Johnny had a few bucks, so Johnny bought him a meal. Eddie tells her they went home together that night and have been together ever since. Anyone's gaydar going off? Johnny keeps lobbying Eddie to get out of there and head for L.A. with him., but Johnny eventually overplays his hand and Eddie shoots him. Wendell Corey (in his first role) does an amazing job of putting a "wounded lover" spin on his line readings, to the point that it's virtually impossible not to acknowledge a gay subtext when you're watching this great Technicolor noir.

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Are there any films made before 1968 in which does not have shaming of the GLBT individual in some way? I mean, there are the precodes of course, but anything specifically showing a GLBT character that is not just comic relief, not in prison, and not a serial killer? 

Getting back to the original question, there's an interesting situation in "The World of Henry Orient" (1964), though I would hesitate to call it "gay", especially since there are some on these Boards who resent us appropriating "straight" characters and situations for our nefarious purposes. The story is about two young girls who form a fantasy crush on Peter Sellers, a popular pianist. One of the girls, Marian, lives with her divorced mother (Theresa Wright) and an unexplained but definitely co-parental female friend named "Boothy" (Bibi Osterwald). The two women are so comfortable in their relationship and so focused on the daughter that it definitely could read to a modern audience as a gay marriage. I totally understand that it could also be read simply as an example of female bonding and friendship, but the fact that it's a family-like unit of three makes the same-sex marriage option at least a good possibility. The women are so warm and FUNNY , to each other and to Marian, that there's no question that this is a family unit now, whether or not there's a gay component. When Marian's friend Valerie meets them, she automatically accepts Boothy without question. When Tom Bosley, Valerie's father, meets them , he's just as accepting of the situation. The fact that Boothy's presence isn't explained in any way leads me to believe that the moviemakers knew what they were doing. Otherwise, there would have been some backstory about why Boothy was there, so people wouldn't get the "wrong" idea.

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Of course.  This is all personal takes when we're talking about the unspoken and unknowable. I remember Boothy having the John Barrymore crush, but growing up gay I had crushes on women, particularly actresses, so I'm not sure what it means. I think you're right that Tom Bosley was showing an interest, but I also felt he had a real regard for their little "family" per se. It never occurred to me that Boothy could have been a maid; she was there day and night and she seemed too personally involved in the household and in Marian's upbringing for that to be true, though I suppose Calpurnia in "To Kill a Mockingbird" was very involved with Scout and Jem's upbringing. It seems I remember Phyllis Thaxter (You were right, of course.) always on her feet and Boothy sitting down, but that could have just been one scene and it could have been meant to signal how relaxed the household was, if Boothy were indeed the maid. In spite of what it may seem like, I'm not over-invested in their being a couple. What it really shows is how far and wide we have to search to find any examples of what the OP was asking for, which is pretty sad. Can you think of any?

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What about the character of Nancy Blake (played by Florence Nash) in The Women?  She is single, a writer, and refers to herself as an "old maid."  It wasn't specified, but I wonder if Clare Boothe Luce was implying that her character was lesbian.  She was bright and witty, and while I think I remember some ribbing from Sylvia Fowler (who had at everyone), she wasn't really treated differently by the others.  

 

Anyone else think her character might be gay?

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What about the character of Nancy Blake (played by Florence Nash) in The Women?  She is single, a writer, and refers to herself as an "old maid."  It wasn't specified, but I wonder if Clare Boothe Luce was implying that her character was lesbian.  She was bright and witty, and while I think I remember some ribbing from Sylvia Fowler (who had at everyone), she wasn't really treated differently by the others.  

 

Anyone else think her character might be gay?

 

I don't think a lesbian would refer to herself as an old maid.   To me that implies she wanted to get married,  and since back than only men and women could get married,  I just don't see a lesbian saying she was an old maid.

 

What the character implies to me is that if a women is bright,  witty and can make it on her own,  she ends up an old maid.  i.e the standard BS implied back than.

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Unless the Florence Nash character lived with another woman, and they were more than just roommates, which I didn't see myself, I don't see her as a lesbian. 

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Not sure exactly what you're looking for. Are you talking about Hollywood movies in particular, or films made in foreign countries, as well? The only film that came to my mind was the German film Different From the Others (1919), which stars Conrad Veidt as a homosexual musician who falls in love with one of his students. It explores all the familiar struggles of a gay individual facing intolerance and shaming from his community, and having to live a lie. It was one of the earliest, if not THE earliest film to make a plea for the rights of homosexuals as equals. Only about 50 minutes of the film still survive, as the Nazis made a big effort to destroy it entirely. What's left is on YT.

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Not sure exactly what you're looking for. Are you talking about Hollywood movies in particular, or films made in foreign countries, as well? The only film that came to my mind was the German film Different From the Others (1919), which stars Conrad Veidt as a homosexual musician who falls in love with one of his students. It explores all the familiar struggles of a gay individual facing intolerance and shaming from his community, and having to live a lie. It was one of the earliest, if not THE earliest film to make a plea for the rights of homosexuals as equals. Only about 50 minutes of the film still survive, as the Nazis made a big effort to destroy it entirely. What's left is on YT.

That's what I am looking for- if you know any positive representatives of the LGBT community within the Hays Code period that would be helpful too. I didn't even think to look at positive examples in silent film! 

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I don't think a lesbian would refer to herself as an old maid.   To me that implies she wanted to get married,  and since back than only men and women could get married,  I just don't see a lesbian saying she was an old maid.

 

What the character implies to me is that if a women is bright,  witty and can make it on her own,  she ends up an old maid.  i.e the standard BS implied back than.

Maybe I'm reading more into the character.  I'd like to read the play to see if there were any changes from that to the screen.  

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Unless the Florence Nash character lived with another woman, and they were more than just roommates, which I didn't see myself, I don't see her as a lesbian. 

I thought I detected something when watching it recently, but maybe not.  I'm curious now, and will watch it tonight.  

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I thought I detected something when watching it recently, but maybe not.  I'm curious now, and will watch it tonight.  

Cool! I'd love to read your impressions. Next time I see it, I will keep an eye out for it. The only thing gay about The Women, at the most what I can refer to, was George Cukor, who directed it. 

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I thought I detected something when watching it recently, but maybe not.  I'm curious now, and will watch it tonight.  

I think both you and james could be right. Yes, it was part of the standard BS that bright, capable women were likely to wind up as old maids, but I don't find her comment itself to be incongruous for a lesbian. The defining factor of closeted gay life was/is the subterfuge  required to "fit in". A gay person, male or female, trying to fit into the society of others of the same sex would speak as they do. It would have been much easier to use the "old maid" gambit to explain away your unmarried status then to admit that a same-sex attraction was behind it. Daily life was pretty much non-stop dissembling for gay people of that era, so it wouldn't surprise me that a lesbian who wanted to be in the company of other women without calling attention to herself would make an offhand comment like that. It doesn't really pay to say that the words sound false for a lesbian, because self-protection required that at least some of what she said on a daily basis would probably be "false". That's the really sad fact in all of this. I think your choice of a character was a good one, G D. She's a bright, witty, likeable character and there's enough about her statements and manner to suggest she might be a lesbian. There doesn't seem to be any sense of shame about her, so I say your suggestion is a good one to consider, given what the OP is looking for.

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I think both you and james could be right. Yes, it was part of the standard BS that bright, capable women were likely to wind up as old maids, but I don't find her comment itself to be incongruous for a lesbian. The defining factor of closeted gay life was/is the subterfuge  required to "fit in". A gay person, male or female, trying to fit into the society of others of the same sex would speak as they do. It would have been much easier to use the "old maid" gambit to explain away your unmarried status then to admit that a same-sex attraction was behind it. Daily life was pretty much non-stop dissembling for gay people of that era, so it wouldn't surprise me that a lesbian who wanted to be in the company of other women without calling attention to herself would make an offhand comment like that. It doesn't really pay to say that the words sound false for a lesbian, because self-protection required that at least some of what she said on a daily basis would probably be "false". That's the really sad fact in all of this. I think your choice of a character was a good one, G D. She's a bright, witty, likeable character and there's enough about her statements and manner to suggest she might be a lesbian. There doesn't seem to be any sense of shame about her, so I say your suggestion is a good one to consider, given what the OP is looking for.

 

Very valid point as it relates to 'old maid' and one I didn't think of (but should have).    Say she was in a relationship with another women and someone like that mean Sylvia called her an old maid.     She couldn't just say 'I'm not an old maid,  I'm in a loving relationship!' since that would lead to assumptions and associated questions she would want to avoid given the era.

 

Just goes to show that one has to live in someone's shoes to really understand how they may react to certain situations.

  

But I do believe we need to be careful and not assume that every (even most) unwed characters in movies that isn't shown in a romantic situation with the opposite sex is gay or lesbian.    Most of the time Hollywood would throw out some fairly obvious clues based on stereotypically views (which I often find borderline offensive);  e.g.  male characters with female names like Carol in The Big Sleep,   women with very short hair and dominating personas etc...

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