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Gay joking in straight classics

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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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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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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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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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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.

Thanks. Yeah, I don't know about Schnee's own sexual orientation, and I'd have to look at his credits and rewatch films he wrote to see if there is more of this kind of dialogue or situation from him. But in terms of what we see in RIGHT CROSS, it is very transparent. And I am sure it was transparent to audiences at the time, who were in on the jokes. 

 

As for racial stereotyping, it's interesting you bring that up and correlate it to this topic. The line where Montalban says to Powell, 'I know you are a fancier of canines' does seem like a way around the code, to suggest jokingly 'I know you are gay.' But what if the line was 'I know you are into blacks.' Would TCM still air it? Would people still watch it or find it relatively harmless? 

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In Adam's Rib, I noticed this similar kind of gay joking in a straight classic in the form of Kip (David Wayne's character). Next door neighbor who has the hots for Amanda Bonner (Katharine Hepburn) and isn't afraid to let Adam Bonner (Spencer Tracy) know it. In the meantime, the next door neighbor collects art and brings single women to parties at the Bonners just to have someone to bring. Kip undermines Adam at every turn, and even supports the idea of confronting the legal double standard against women so much so that he says "I might go out and become a woman myself" to which Adam chides "and he wouldn't have far to go either!" He does it for supposed ulterior motives, but the joke is that Kip is ambiguous about it. 

 

Maybe Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin had means to be not-so-subtle with Hays Coded approved language of this script, maybe it was the only way they could get away with the idea of the supposed not-gay "gay best friend," I don't know. Kip seems to be comic relief and the passing joke. I don't know, what do you think? 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3vjhSTsKfg

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In Adam's Rib, I noticed this similar kind of gay joking in a straight classic in the form of Kip (David Wayne's character). Next door neighbor who has the hots for Amanda Bonner (Katharine Hepburn) and isn't afraid to let Adam Bonner (Spencer Tracy) know it. In the meantime, the next door neighbor collects art and brings single women to parties at the Bonners just to have someone to bring. Kip undermines Adam at every turn, and even supports the idea of confronting the legal double standard against women so much so that he says "I might go out and become a woman myself" to which Adam chides "and he wouldn't have far to go either!" He does it for supposed ulterior motives, but the joke is that Kip is ambiguous about it. 

 

Maybe Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin had means to be not-so-subtle with Hays Coded approved language of this script, maybe it was the only way they could get away with the idea of the supposed not-gay "gay best friend," I don't know. Kip seems to be comic relief and the passing joke. I don't know, what do you think? 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3vjhSTsKfg

Good post...a case could be made about Kip in ADAM'S RIB. But they cover the character with stereotypes about heterosexual bachelors. 

 

When Gordon & Kanin give Adam the line about Kip already seeming like a woman, which plays as a joke and underscores the fact that Kip is quite different from Adam and the straight men in their community, it adds to the film's overall critique about challenging the conventional roles of men and women in American society.

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There are many characters in classic movies that can be seen as gay - specially to a modern audience- this specially true after the code in which writers/director were force to sensor themselves- still there are moments that they manage to wink at the audience- there is that classic gun scene in "Red River" in which Ireland and Clift seem to have something else on their minds beside shooting.

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There are many characters in classic movies that can be seen as gay - specially to a modern audience- this specially true after the code in which writers/director were force to sensor themselves- still there are moments that they manage to wink at the audience- there is that classic gun scene in "Red River" in which Ireland and Clift seem to have something else on their minds beside shooting.

But in that case, were they joking around about it? I think there's a difference between scenes of subtextual homoerotic desire and scenes where a character is teased for supposedly having homosexual traits.

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Good post...a case could be made about Kip in ADAM'S RIB. But they cover the character with stereotypes about heterosexual bachelors. 

 

When Gordon & Kanin give Adam the line about Kip already seeming like a woman, which plays as a joke and underscores the fact that Kip is quite different from Adam and the straight men in their community, it adds to the film's overall critique about challenging the conventional roles of men and women in American society.

If I could make a ratio to bachelor references to gay jokes in Adam's Rib, I would say there is more gay jokes than bachelor references. The quip about his sympathies to Amanda's side in the trial does add to the critique about challenging, but negatively. In that line in that scene, it reinforces that Kip is less of a man because he doesn't mind openly shoItwing his support for Amanda's side. It's a jab at male feminists too. The only thing that makes it brush worthy is Kip's laissez-faire-do-I-care tone by not being too thrown by Adam's jabs. 

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In "Send Me No Flowers", there is a classic Rock Hudson/Tony Randall situation that does turn out to be funny.

 

Tony Randall is Rock Hudson's next-door neighbor and Tony Randall's wife and children have gone away.

 

When Rock Hudson thinks - mistakenly - that he is actually dying and tells Tony Randall about it in the strictest confidence, Tony Randall can no longer function and seeks comfort in alcohol.

 

Believe it or not, Tony Randall's incapacitated condition is funny, very funny - because it plays like the overly-concerned reaction of a "spouse" who cannot handle the dreadful news.

 

Later, when Rock Hudson is seeking shelter in Tony Randall's house and they are sharing the same bed, Rock starts to complain about Tony's cold feet and Tony starts to complain about Rock's toenails.

 

The relationship has come full circle - they are now so close to each other that they can bicker openly and take jabs at each other.

 

When Clint Walker shows up as a possible mate for Doris Day (after Rock Hudson dies), Clint Walker is not really taken seriously, because Rock Hudson and Tony Randall are just too busy dealing with each other.

 

Again, this situation comes across as a very funny one - because Rock Hudson and Tony Randall can't see beyond themselves.

 

When Rock Hudson is suspected of infidelity with Patricia Barry by Doris Day, it's instantly funny for the audience, because Rock Hudson has already been "unfaithful" with Tony Randall.

 

"Send Me No Flowers" is a highly entertaining straight farcical comedy that also happens to have a highly subversive subtext.

 

Enjoy!

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Ray,

 

I'm glad you brought this thread back to the top of page one. After re-reading it, I can see we had started a most interesting discussion. This is exactly the type of thread I love, where posters examine social conditions (prejudices) that exist within mainstream film texts.

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Ray,

 

I'm glad you brought this thread back to the top of page one. After re-reading it, I can see we had started a most interesting discussion. This is exactly the type of thread I love, where posters examine social conditions (prejudices) that exist within mainstream film texts.

Jarrod,

 

It's the kind of film thread that I happen to love, too.

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Ray,

 

I'm glad you brought this thread back to the top of page one. After re-reading it, I can see we had started a most interesting discussion. This is exactly the type of thread I love, where posters examine social conditions (prejudices) that exist within mainstream film texts.

Me too. But then again, that's my M.O. anyway. That's what film can do very well. 

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I really enjoyed the handling of the vampire Count's gay son in "The Fearless Vampire Killers".  As soon as the kid sees the Professor's assistant, he is more than ready to POUNCE.  The blond beauty, who looks really hungry, is in such overwhelming and frightening HEAT.  In this totally-consuming state, the kid is actually funny (and I do wish that he had gotten SOME.)

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I really enjoyed the handling of the vampire Count's gay son in "The Fearless Vampire Killers".  As soon as the kid sees the Professor's assistant, he is more than ready to POUNCE.  The blond beauty, who looks really hungry, is in such overwhelming and frightening HEAT.  In this totally-consuming state, the kid is actually funny (and I do wish that he had gotten SOME.)

Can't say that I've seen it. Probably the whole aspect of vampirism, as it relates to sexuality, is its own separate topic.

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Can't say that I've seen it. Probably the whole aspect of vampirism, as it relates to sexuality, is its own separate topic.

Vampirism  can be used as metaphor for homosexuality- even though most male movie vampires seem to only lust after women.  I love lesbian vampires movies specially the Hammer films like " Lust for a Vampire"- actually as I was falling sleep watching "Carol" I was really hoping Cate Blanchet would turn into one... :)

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Well, now, there was Neil Jordan's "Interview With The Vampire" in which the homoerotic context could be strongly "felt".

 

Of course, in the famous book by Anne Rice, the homoeroticism was much more on display.

 

200_s.gif

 

THE DEEPEST KISS!

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In "The Fearless Vampire Killers", the gay vampire is played impeccably by Iain Quarrier, who is Herbert von Krolock (make of that name what you surely can):

 

maxresdefault.jpg

 

Herbert's about to pounce on the professor's assistant for "the deepest kiss".

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Well, now, there was Neil Jordan's "Interview With The Vampire" in which the homoerotic context could be strongly "felt".

 

Of course, in the famous book by Anne Rice, the homoeroticism was much more on display.

 

200_s.gif

 

THE DEEPEST KISS!

I thought the movie was beautiful but the gay angle was one long tease

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Was Dr. No a gay man?

 

Joseph Wiseman's riveting performance suggests a monomanical madman with a great deal of suppressed homosexuality.

 

And his lifestyle on Crab Island is certainly that of a gay man.

 

In the dinner party scene, Dr. No can't get rid of Honey Badger fast enough - and then he tells his henchmen to "soften" James Bond up.

 

What other assaults on Mr. Bond's masculinity did he intend?

 

It's a tantalizing thought.

 

Dr.%2BNo.png

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In "Harper", which was shown on TCM yesterday, Paul Newman (as Lew Harper) kept referring to Robert Wagner (as Alan) as "beauty" all of the time.

 

He addressed Alan openly as "beauty".

 

It added an interesting layer to a man - Lew Harper - who seemed very disgruntled with just about everybody and everything.

 

Was he looking for a lifestyle change?

 

Interestingly enough, he often got a charge out of Alan, who referred to Lew as "Lew baby".

 

Maybe the characters had more of "a gay relationship" in the original material by Ross MacDonald.

 

Or maybe a scene or two hit the cutting room floor.

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Was Dr. No a gay man?

 

Joseph Wiseman's riveting performance suggests a monomanical madman with a great deal of suppressed homosexuality.

 

And his lifestyle on Crab Island is certainly that of a gay man.

 

In the dinner party scene, Dr. No can't get rid of Honey Badger fast enough - and then he tells his henchmen to "soften" James Bond up.

 

What other assaults on Mr. Bond's masculinity did he intend?

 

It's a tantalizing thought.

 

Dr.%2BNo.png

Interesting...

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