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hepclassic

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

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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 interesting comments, DougieB.  It's hard imagining the care that closeted gay women and men had to take with their comments around people, not to mention every facet of their lives.

 

I'm reading a biography of Clare Boothe Luce and can't help thinking, due to her sophistication and many circles she moved in, she might have included a gay character.   I hope so.  I got wrapped up in Judgement at Nuremberg so didn't watch The Women, but will tonight.

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Very interesting comments, DougieB.  It's hard imagining the care that closeted gay women and men had to take with their comments around people, not to mention every facet of their lives.

 

I'm reading a biography of Clare Boothe Luce and can't help thinking, due to her sophistication and many circles she moved in, she might have included a gay character.   I hope so.  I got wrapped up in Judgement at Nuremberg so didn't watch The Women, but will tonight.

 

While it is possible Luce would have included a gay character in her story,  it doesn't make much of a difference unless the director was aware of this and tried to put in some type of reference to it that got passed the censors. 

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While it is possible Luce would have included a gay character in her story,  it doesn't make much of a difference unless the director was aware of this and tried to put in some type of reference to it that got passed the censors. 

Well, the censors weren't Rhodes scholars if they let so much slip in the first place, let alone the genius of the filmmakers to make it slip in the first place. 

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Well, the censors weren't Rhodes scholars if they let so much slip in the first place, let alone the genius of the filmmakers to make it slip in the first place. 

 

While I agree it wasn't very difficult to get things based the censors,  having seen The Women at least 5 times I just can't remember there being anything to indicate that character was gay.  Of course maybe it slipped by me as well!

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While I agree it wasn't very difficult to get things based the censors,  having seen The Women at least 5 times I just can't remember there being anything to indicate that character was gay.  Of course maybe it slipped by me as well!

Honestly, it's so hard to tell unless it is made obvious. I mean, Rock Hudson was able to convince the world he was heterosexual, but that's because he was a good actor. 

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Honestly, it's so hard to tell unless it is made obvious. I mean, Rock Hudson was able to convince the world he was heterosexual, but that's because he was a good actor. 

 

Maybe we are talking about two different things but to me in most cases it is very obvious.   Hudson was an exception.   He was a gay man that worked very hard to hide that fact  (or I should say the studio worked hard to ensure there were no clues, like even having him get married!).

 

But in most movies it is obvious who the gay character is;  e.g.  the type of profession the character was in - fashion designer, man servant,  etc...     How they would speak or use their hands etc....   The name they were given,  etc....

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Maybe we are talking about two different things but to me in most cases it is very obvious.   Hudson was an exception.   He was a gay man that worked very hard to hide that fact  (or I should say the studio worked hard to ensure there were no clues, like even having him get married!).

 

But in most movies it is obvious who the gay character is;  e.g.  the type of profession the character was in - fashion designer, man servant,  etc...     How they would speak or use their hands etc....   The name they were given,  etc....

To quote Clairee Belcher in Steel Magnolias "In my day you can tell by a man's carriage and demeanor which side his bread was buttered on, but in this day and age, who knows?" 

 

I can't say I picked up on Hudson's personal, private sexuality by his performances. Giant alone, he was radiating machismo heterosexuality. 

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To quote Clairee Belcher in Steel Magnolias "In my day you can tell by a man's carriage and demeanor which side his bread was buttered on, but in this day and age, who knows?" 

 

I can't say I picked up on Hudson's personal, private sexuality by his performances. Giant alone, he was radiating machismo heterosexuality. 

 

I also never picked up on Hudson's personal \ private sexuality based on his performances.

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While it is possible Luce would have included a gay character in her story,  it doesn't make much of a difference unless the director was aware of this and tried to put in some type of reference to it that got passed the censors. 

But even if a viewer wonders about a character, that's something, isn't it, some progress, no matter how subtle the characterization  may be.  Especially if the character is portrayed in a positive light, not as a stereotype or object of scorn.

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But even if a viewer wonders about a character, that's something, isn't it, some progress, no matter how subtle the characterization  may be.  Especially if the character is portrayed in a positive light, not as a stereotype or object of scorn.

 

Oh,  I agree,  but like I said when this post was started,  us folks that welcome positive gay characters in films also need to avoid stereotypes.    Remember when I said that just because a women is smart,  independent,  self-made and unmarried doesn't mean she is a lesbian.      

 

Note that there are rumors about Kate Hepburn being bi-sexual because of how she lived her life.     Of course if she was or wasn't wouldn't change my view of her but to me that rumor is based on a stereotype view of women during that era.    (now women like this are just called cougers!).   

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Oh,  I agree,  but like I said when this post was started,  us folks that welcome positive gay characters in films also need to avoid stereotypes.    Remember when I said that just because a women is smart,  independent,  self-made and unmarried doesn't mean she is a lesbian.      

 

Note that there are rumors about Kate Hepburn being bi-sexual because of how she lived her life.     Of course if she was or wasn't wouldn't change my view of her but to me that rumor is based on a stereotype view of women during that era.    (now women like this are just called cougers!).   

Here is the exchange that made me wonder:

 

 

Nancy Blake: You just can't bear Mary happiness, can you, Sylvia? It gets ya down.

Sylvia Fowler: Oh, don't be ridiculous, why should it?

Nancy Blake: Because she's contented, contented to be what she is.

Sylvia Fowler: Which is what?

Nancy Blake: A woman.

Sylvia Fowler: Ahh. And what are we?

Nancy Blake: Female.

Sylvia Fowler: Really. and what are you, pet?

Nancy Blake: What nature abhors. I'm an old maid, a frozen asset.

 
Maybe Sylvia was simply implying that Nancy Blake was an "old maid."  I guess I like to think playwrights or screenwriters back then sneaked in gay characters who didn't have any obvious manifestations of being gay, if that makes sense.

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Here is the exchange that made me wonder:

 

 

Nancy Blake: You just can't bear Mary happiness, can you, Sylvia? It gets ya down.

Sylvia Fowler: Oh, don't be ridiculous, why should it?

Nancy Blake: Because she's contented, contented to be what she is.

Sylvia Fowler: Which is what?

Nancy Blake: A woman.

Sylvia Fowler: Ahh. And what are we?

Nancy Blake: Female.

Sylvia Fowler: Really. and what are you, pet?

Nancy Blake: What nature abhors. I'm an old maid, a frozen asset.

 
Maybe Sylvia was simply implying that Nancy Blake was an "old maid."  I guess I like to think playwrights or screenwriters back then sneaked in gay characters who didn't have any obvious manifestations of being gay, if that makes sense.

 

 

Interesting exchange.  Nancy insults Sylvia when she says that Mary is a women but Sylvia is a female.    I'm not sure what the difference is (other than a women is contented and I guess a female is not).    Since Sylvia ask Nancy what she is,  that implies she isn't a female like the others.    So that could imply that Sylvia knew she was a lesbian.

 

But I still don't understand Nancy saying she is an old maid as a reply to Sylvia put down.  Something like an outcast would have made more sense to me (if indeed she was a lesbianism).

 

Note that Wiki does say this: Lesbianism is intimated in the portrayal of only one character, Nancy Blake.   

 

But the article doesn't say what the hints are!

 

Note that the film has been remade twice.   Reading about the 2008 version Wiki doesn't mention anything about a lesbian character.   I only point this out because the 2008 version wouldn't have been restricted from showing such a character openly.

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Interesting exchange.  Nancy insults Sylvia when she says that Mary is a women but Sylvia is a female.    I'm not sure what the difference is (other than a women is contented and I guess a female is not).    Since Sylvia ask Nancy what she is,  that implies she isn't a female like the others.    So that could imply that Sylvia knew she was a lesbian.

 

But I still don't understand Nancy saying she is an old maid as a reply to Sylvia put down.  Something like an outcast would have made more sense to me (if indeed she was a lesbianism).

 

Note that Wiki does say this: Lesbianism is intimated in the portrayal of only one character, Nancy Blake.   

 

But the article doesn't say what the hints are!

 

Note that the film has been remade twice.   Reading about the 2008 version Wiki doesn't mention anything about a lesbian character.   I only point this out because the 2008 version wouldn't have been restricted from showing such a character openly.

I had the misfortune of seeing the 2008 version and my memory is hazy about it.  The Nancy Blake character (played by Jada Pinkett Smith) was openly gay, I remember.  

 

I'd still love to find a copy of the play to see if the dialogue in the scene is the same as in the film.  (Not to mention other scenes.)  I'm somehow really keen on finding out more on this!    

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I had the misfortune of seeing the 2008 version and my memory is hazy about it.  The Nancy Blake character (played by Jada Pinkett Smith) was openly gay, I remember.  

 

I'd still love to find a copy of the play to see if the dialogue in the scene is the same as in the film.  (Not to mention other scenes.)  I'm somehow really keen on finding out more on this!    

 

Well that settles it for me.   Nancy was indeed a lesbian but due to the code the 1939  version just had to hide it very well.  So well,  I never noticed it until this thread!

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I also never picked up on Hudson's personal \ private sexuality based on his performances.

Then, can you please clarify what you meant please? 

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Then, can you please clarify what you meant please? 

 

I said that in most Production Code movies it was obvious who was a gay character based on various clues; like their name,  how they dressed,  what profession they had in the film,  and their mannerisms.      Then with regards to Rock Hudson I posted this:

 

"Hudson was an exception.   He was a gay man that worked very hard to hide that fact  (or I should say the studio worked hard to ensure there were no clues, like even having him get married!)":

 

See where I say Hudson was an exception;  That meant that in the case of Hudson there were no clues that I could see that hinted he was gay in any of his movies.

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I said that in most Production Code movies it was obvious who was a gay character based on various clues; like their name,  how they dressed,  what profession they had in the film,  and their mannerisms.      Then with regards to Rock Hudson I posted this:

 

"Hudson was an exception.   He was a gay man that worked very hard to hide that fact  (or I should say the studio worked hard to ensure there were no clues, like even having him get married!)":

 

See where I say Hudson was an exception;  That meant that in the case of Hudson there were no clues that I could see that hinted he was gay in any of his movies.

Thank you for clarifying, and forgive my response. I misinterpreted what you were saying. 

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Here's an interesting article about the director Mitchell Leisen, who was gay,  I also remember hearing once that the characters in No Time for Love (MacMurray and Colbert) can both be seen as men, sort of in the sense of Rattigan's The Deep Blue Sea.

 

http://sensesofcinema.com/2005/great-directors/leisen/

 

On another note, the film Dracula's Daughter gives us (I believe) the first use of the female vampire as lesbian. She even goes to a psychiatrist! 

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Here's an interesting article about the director Mitchell Leisen, who was gay,  I also remember hearing once that the characters in No Time for Love (MacMurray and Colbert) can both be seen as men, sort of in the sense of Rattigan's The Deep Blue Sea.

 

http://sensesofcinema.com/2005/great-directors/leisen/

 

On another note, the film Dracula's Daughter gives us (I believe) the first use of the female vampire as lesbian. She even goes to a psychiatrist! 

I will have to check those out! 

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Here's an interesting article about the director Mitchell Leisen, who was gay,  I also remember hearing once that the characters in No Time for Love (MacMurray and Colbert) can both be seen as men, sort of in the sense of Rattigan's The Deep Blue Sea.

Thanks for the link. What a fimography. I saw "Frenchman's Creek" years ago, but now I can't wait to see it again. "Hands Across the Table" is on a Lombard collection I just found in a sale bin, so I'll go to that first. I liked the Oscar Wilde quote the writer used, about wickedness being a concept created by good people to account for what they find oddly attractive. I think the idea you mentioned of masquerading same-sex relationships as straight may have been common and could maybe even support a seperate thread, though I know it might excite those who think we just want to find the gay in everything.

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Thanks for the link. What a fimography. I saw "Frenchman's Creek" years ago, but now I can't wait to see it again. "Hands Across the Table" is on a Lombard collection I just found in a sale bin, so I'll go to that first. I liked the Oscar Wilde quote the writer used, about wickedness being a concept created by good people to account for what they find oddly attractive. I think the idea you mentioned of masquerading same-sex relationships as straight may have been common and could maybe even support a seperate thread, though I know it might excite those who think we just want to find the gay in everything.

It's not a bad idea, considering how many heterosexual relationships were created in a film adaption so it could be produced, rather than stay true to the source material of including same-sex relationships. Personally, I think if we can de-stigmatize the scandal of finding "gay in everything" as if it makes the material bad, than that is good. 

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On another note, the film Dracula's Daughter gives us (I believe) the first use of the female vampire as lesbian. She even goes to a psychiatrist! 

I remember how intensely that came across the first time I saw the movie, maybe because it was so unexpected that it could be so blatant. The feeling that there was more than just blood on her mind was palpable. The downside, of course, is that it feeds people's fear that, like vampires, homosexuals want to prey on the essence of their "victims". Yet, strangely, it was hard to take offense, given Gloria Holden's spellbinding (literally) performance.

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I keep thinking about this thread because it frustrates me that our choices are always so "arguable". There just aren't characters we can say are gay in the way we understand the use of the word. Often in older movies someone will use the word in the sense of "cheery" and it 's like a jolt, probably as much of a jolt as it would be for them to know that in the future it would have connotations of homosexuality. It makes this discussion very difficult because we're definitely not on the same page as the people who made these films. Sometimes there is a sense that there was an effort to deal with the issue in a coded way, but then the burden of decoding it falls on us, which is nearly impossible to do with something which was left deliberately ambiguous. Add to that the stipulation that these be positive portrayals without shaming of the character and there's not much to work with. It can also be daunting to know there'll likely be resistance to any theories about specific characters being "gay" in the first place. Recently, I was delighted by the showing of "The Reluctant Dragon" (1941) because I've adored it since I was a kid. Now I know why; the dragon's a **** in more ways than one. Yes, it incorporates practially every gay stereotype known to man (mincing steps, batting eyelashes, fey gestures, etc.), but It's also a very serious look at the power of positivity to overcome entrenched negative expectations. To my mind, it's very forward-looking in that way and has a lot to say to young (actually, ALL) people today, so I want to nominate The Reluctant Dragon as a gay character who triumphed over attempts to shame him. Regardless of how the character was conceived originally, to me the Dragon is a great lesson in how to deal with bullying, with the help of straight allies. I'd go to one of his tea party/poetry recitals in a heartbeat.

 

"flam-er" was auto-edited out.

Edited by DougieB
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