hepclassic

Gay True Stories That Need To Be On Film

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While stories about gay and transgendered individuals is as rare as an African-American actress cast in a lead role in Hollywood, it would be nice to see more films about GLBT individuals whose dramatic arc isn't that the fact that they are GLBT in the past or present. It would be nice to see films about GLBT individuals whom it is apart of their life, but they are too busy with being lawyers, doctors, politicians, the list goes on.

 

What would you like to see on film?

 

Personally, I would love to see Bayard Rustin's life on film. 

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Excellent topic.

 

The story of Louis XIII of France, a much-speculated gay monarch, has not been addressed completely in film. In a production like CARDINAL RICHELIEU (1935) his possible homosexuality is brushed under the carpet because of the production code. His relationship with the cardinal is very intriguing (could have been platonic). Though Louis is said to have had sexual relationships with several notable men. He was never married and never had mistresses.

 

I've also wondered if our only unmarried U.S. President James Buchanan was gay. I've read things about his close relationship with a man he lived with for a while who was a vice president under President Pierce. I think they may have been longtime partners. 

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Excellent topic.

 

The story of Louis XIII of France, a much-speculated gay monarch, has not been addressed completely in film. In a production like CARDINAL RICHELIEU (1934) his possible homosexuality is brushed under the carpet because of the production code. His relationship with the cardinal is very intriguing (could have been platonic). Though Louis is said to have had sexual relationships with several notable men. He was never married and never had mistresses.

 

I've also wondered if our only unmarried U.S. President James Buchanan was gay. I've read things about his close relationship with a man he lived with for a while who was a vice president under President Pierce. I think they may have been lovers. 

 

Is Louis XIII or Buchanan a good example of "whose dramatic arc isn't that the fact that they are GLBT in the past or present" or 'true stories'?    In both cases there is the common stereotype that being unmarried is code for being gay.   If there isn't actual knowledge there can't be a true story and therefore the dramatic arc tends to focus on 'were they or not'.

 

As we have discussed before I also question if the overall community wants stories about their 'group' where the dramatic arc isn't about the group.     While I think it would be great for producers and screenwriters to have everyday characters like doctors, lawyers, police, etc.. just happen to be gay,   if the dramatic arc wasn't focused on that would members of said community feel these characters were gay as a token?   Just using the topic as a device? 

 

PS:  I wish movies would have atheist characters where the dramatic arc wasn't about that since as a way of showing that us folks are just a moral (if not more so), then the so called religious.    So maybe there is a market for such portrayals. 

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Because "homosexuality" wasn't even a word until the 19th century and generally wasn't considered all THAT much more "sinful" than the other "sins" in religion until conservatives in the 20th Century made such a big hoopty-doo about it, it is difficult to find many genuine pioneers or warriors to the gay "cause" the farther back you go in history. Hardly anybody batted an eye over anything that Alexander the Great or Michelangelo did. Just kings were questioned and mostly because they were all required to produce an heir to the throne... since you had to get the king interested enough in his queen in order to produce Baby Royalty. Also as long as men behaved as "masculine" and properly stabbed, injured or murder others in duels, few cared what they did behind closed doors.

 

There are probably a great many gay love stories in the 18th and 19th centuries that didn't get suppressed as much as they would have in the 20th, as long as they were kept mostly private. You look at Victorian Age photography and it is surprising just how affectionate men were with each other on camera, as well as women with other women. I am sure that the atrocities of the Civil War created plenty of male bonding. Also it gets lonely and cold on the cattle drive or deep in the Yukon when there are no women around.

 

Hollywood history has many stories ripe for treatment though. I am surprised there hasn't been much dramatization on William Haines, since he was a pretty open and expressively colorful character many actors would enjoy portraying. You also have the triple K crashing one of his parties in the '30s for good measure. Despite getting canned from MGM, he still made a great success as an interior designer... so his story is an uplifting one about beating to your own drum regardless of what society thinks.

 

The murder of Ramon Novarro was an important game-changer in social issues, since the Ferguson brothers were put on trial the very same summer as Stonewall. Now Ramon was very private in his sex life, so there isn't a whole lot to detail before his death exposed what he had kept secret. Yet you do have his religious conservatism vs. physical appetite vs. struggles with alcoholism storyline here.

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Is Louis XIII or Buchanan a good example of "whose dramatic arc isn't that the fact that they are GLBT in the past or present" or 'true stories'?    In both cases there is the common stereotype that being unmarried is code for being gay.   If there isn't actual knowledge there can't be a true story and therefore the dramatic arc tends to focus on 'were they or not'.

I'm not sure that all historical biopics about possibly gay subjects have to be in the vein of 'were they or not.' When Oliver Stone made JFK, he didn't say was there a conspiracy or not-- he said heck yes there was a conspiracy. Of course, with this approach, a film can always turn out to be wholly fictional if new facts come to light later on. But any screenwriter and director could conceivably approach a story about President Buchanan in the Oliver Stone way--as a drama about him being the first gay man in the White House. Such a thesis (whether or not viewers or historians agree) can mold a narrative along those lines without it being conjecture, if it is presented as 'true.' 

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James,

 

The best market for these stories right now is independent film circuit, which has better follow now because of Netflix. 

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Interesting subject and I totally agree there should be more films about gay's in history.

 

While I agree there should be more films about gay's in history that wasn't the subject as I understood it.   

 

Should there be more films about gay's in history where the 'dramatic arc isn't that the fact that they are GLBT in the past or present'?

 

e.g. in a film about a past President of the USA that may have been gay the 'dramatic arc' would be on if that President was gay or not.     So to me that example doesn't meet the criteria of the subject matter.

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An interesting "irony" here, Douglas Sirk made a film about a flawed gay man, who became famous, Dean Hess - the film was called "Battle Hymn" - Dean Hess was on the set all the time and interfered with the presentation of the material - also, Mr. Sirk had broken his leg and wasn't as present as he would've liked - but he probably did have the final say on the film - since Mr. Sirk hired an actual gay man, Rock Hudson, to play the role - and, of course, nothing of Mr. Hess' homosexuality could reach the screen - but, as I said, perhaps Mr. Sirk finally did get the upper hand - but how many people in the movie audience would've know that an actual gay military hero was being played by an actual gay Hollywood star?    

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... in a film about a past President of the USA that may have been gay the 'dramatic arc' would be on if that President was gay or not.    

Not necessarily. It could be on how he lost a woman that he was involved with when he was younger and found love with a man, and how upper Washington society knew but mostly did not approve. As I understand it, that's his real story. His adopted niece who served as a White House hostess is a secondary story, and that subplot could show how she had a unique power-- so in a way, there was no traditional president and first lady during those years. To me, that would be a very compelling film, maybe an art film. And it would not have to focus on verification of his sexuality but instead on how atypical he was in that position of leadership.

 

In my opinion, we need to get away from wondering about people's sex lives and focus on how different people can lead a nation in new directions. To me, that's what a film of this nature can accomplish.

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Not necessarily. It could be on how he lost a woman that he was involved with when he was younger and found love with a man, and how upper Washington society knew but mostly did not approve. As I understand it, that's his real story. His adopted niece who served as a White House hostess is a secondary story, and that subplot could show how she had a unique power-- so in a way, there was no traditional president and first lady during those years. To me, that would be a very compelling film, maybe an art film. And it would not have to focus on verification of his sexuality but instead on how atypical he was in that position of leadership.

 

In my opinion, we need to get away from wondering about people's sex lives and focus on how different people can lead a nation in new directions. To me, that's what a film of this nature can accomplish.

 

I guess we have a different view of what 'dramatic arc' means because to me 'his real story' as you outline would have a gay dramatic arc.     While I agree we need to get away from wondering about people's sex lives,   my question was if the gay community feels this way as it relates to film.     Again,  would they welcome films where characters are gay but that isn't the focus of the story OR even a storyline?   Would they feel cheated if that was the case?   (cheated in the sense that they feel the producers made certain characters gay for PC reasons but didn't really wish to explore these gay characters)?    

 

Note that this was also debated with regards to the Oscar fuss with African Americans.     What does the community really want?  More films based on stories where the African American experience and what makes these story 'unique' (theirs and theirs alone) is the focus of the story OR just more African American actors in roles where the focus is NOT on the fact that they are African Americans but instead just doctors, lawyers etc... and with the POV that they really don't have a unique experience?    

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Ugh.
 

There is nothing wrong with any of the posts here, so don't take what I say here personally.

 

I just... I dunno.

 

I can't wait for a time period when we no longer have to discuss things in terms of "gay community", "African American community" and so forth. Everybody just blends into ONE community by nation rather than skin shade or orientation.

 

I guess religions will still have their "communities" since those members all follow their own Clubhouse Rules. I also understand people will always share certain histories together. You can't forget which race was sold at slave markets in this country... and had to endure all of the Jim Crow laws.

 

This is exactly why I do not feel we need another Republican in the White House for a while. Although Trump and Cruz are the primary bigots of the bunch, it seems that virtually all of the candidates still view Americans as separate little groups. Kasich is better than the rest, but he can't help the fact that he is still a conservative Republican. They all are tested with the ol' Sesame Street song "one of these people is not like the other. One of these people just doesn't belong, Can you tell which person is not like the others by the time I finish my song?"

 

On the other hand, the Democrats are the ones forced to hippy-croon "I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony..." Whatever horrors and crimes against humanity that eeeeeevil Hillary Clinton has committed or socialist propaganda Bernie Sanders is accused of promoting, ONE of them HAS to be a representative of this country or else it will still stay stuck in the 1960s. We HAVE to move forward.

 

We all know the EXTERIOR reason why the GOP is attacking Obama's choice of Merrick Garland: they don't want this president to choose ANYBODY. However, I still suspect one of the INTERIOR reasons... maybe not the only reason but ONE of the reasons... has to do with the fact that, like Sanders, Garland is... Jeeeeeewish. Of course, none of the GOP politicians will say that, but you just know that Obama was very clever in testing the anti-Muslim party in regards to what else they are "anti". (By the way, Trump DID get a lot of cheers in Arizona when saying that he will make sure all Americans say "Merry Christmas" once he is in the White House.)

 

But... to get back to movies.

 

It is all about The Story.

 

It does not matter what the sex life is, but apparently every "gay" storyline has to bring up the sex since that is what makes it "gay". When many conservatives think of "gay marriage", they are NOT thinking about "in sickness and in health" or even "love". They are thinking of what two guys or two girls are doing behind closed doors. They only think of what "straight" couples do-behind-closed-doors AFTER she gets pregnant. In "straight" couple storylines (boy & girl protagonists), much of the story has nothing to do with the bedroom but whatever shared adventures they have together.

 

I just hope... some day... that all "gay drama" will consist of historical subjects depicting a time when they were denied rights and the people in their environment are simply the "villians" to their storyline... and all modern stories will just be matter-of-fact. People have relationships. People have shared experiences. It is not about being "gay", any more than it is about being "black".

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I can clarify my original point. 

 

I don't care if the character is GLBT. The dramatic arc I am looking for is where one GLBT individual deals with an adversity outside of just being GLBT in our heterosexist society because the filmmakers are heterosexual and the actor or actress portraying the GLBT character is heterosexual and it's a "challenge." 

 

Bayard Rustin was a civil rights activist. President Buchanan was the President of the United States. Those two alone would be great ideas because the adversities of their characters are professional, and the insight would be personal as they are, or in the case of dramatic exploration could have been given respect of evidence and new angles, GLBT in very institutionally unfriendly times. The gayness of these characters would be an "oh, okay, he's that and that's okay, I didn't know that before, cool" not the usual "OMG he's GAY! How will he survive the times he lives in?!! Especially when it was three degrees more heterosexist than it is today!?"

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Ugh.

 

There is nothing wrong with any of the posts here, so don't take what I say here personally.

 

I just... I dunno.

 

I can't wait for a time period when we no longer have to discuss things in terms of "gay community", "African American community" and so forth. Everybody just blends into ONE community by nation rather than skin shade or orientation.

 

I guess religions will still have their "communities" since those members all follow their own Clubhouse Rules. I also understand people will always share certain histories together. You can't forget which race was sold at slave markets in this country... and had to endure all of the Jim Crow laws.

 

This is exactly why I do not feel we need another Republican in the White House for a while. Although Trump and Cruz are the primary bigots of the bunch, it seems that virtually all of the candidates still view Americans as separate little groups. Kasich is better than the rest, but he can't help the fact that he is still a conservative Republican. They all are tested with the ol' Sesame Street song "one of these people is not like the other. One of these people just doesn't belong, Can you tell which person is not like the others by the time I finish my song?"

 

On the other hand, the Democrats are the ones forced to hippy-croon "I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony..." Whatever horrors and crimes against humanity that eeeeeevil Hillary Clinton has committed or socialist propaganda Bernie Sanders is accused of promoting, ONE of them HAS to be a representative of this country or else it will still stay stuck in the 1960s. We HAVE to move forward.

 

We all know the EXTERIOR reason why the GOP is attacking Obama's choice of Merrick Garland: they don't want this president to choose ANYBODY. However, I still suspect one of the INTERIOR reasons... maybe not the only reason but ONE of the reasons... has to do with the fact that, like Sanders, Garland is... Jeeeeeewish. Of course, none of the GOP politicians will say that, but you just know that Obama was very clever in testing the anti-Muslim party in regards to what else they are "anti". (By the way, Trump DID get a lot of cheers in Arizona when saying that he will make sure all Americans say "Merry Christmas" once he is in the White House.)

 

But... to get back to movies.

 

It is all about The Story.

 

It does not matter what the sex life is, but apparently every "gay" storyline has to bring up the sex since that is what makes it "gay". When many conservatives think of "gay marriage", they are NOT thinking about "in sickness and in health" or even "love". They are thinking of what two guys or two girls are doing behind closed doors. They only think of what "straight" couples do-behind-closed-doors AFTER she gets pregnant. In "straight" couple storylines (boy & girl protagonists), much of the story has nothing to do with the bedroom but whatever shared adventures they have together.

 

I just hope... some day... that all "gay drama" will consist of historical subjects depicting a time when they were denied rights and the people in their environment are simply the "villians" to their storyline... and all modern stories will just be matter-of-fact. People have relationships. People have shared experiences. It is not about being "gay", any more than it is about being "black".

 

While I don't wish this to get too political here, to me you have it backwards.  It is the left that likes the ideas of separate groups since this celebrates what members in said group believe is unique about being a member of their group.    It is the right that has pushed the color blind \ assimilation POV.     

 

Cleary people have shared experiences (e.g. I laugh when I hear on a travel show that for culture XYZ,  food and family are central to that culture.    The host says this in a hyped up way to imply it is somehow unique to that culture.   But of course food and family are central to every culture.

 

But there is uniqueness as well.    Just ask any of my Italian relatives.   They really hate being called Europeans and make it clear they are not the same as the French, Germans,   etc....     My experiences is that most people like to play up what they feel makes their culture \ background unique.       Movies just reflect this (often with a heavy hand in a I Remember Mama type manner).

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While I don't wish this to get too political here, to me you have it backwards.  It is the left that likes the ideas of separate groups since this celebrates what members in said group believe is unique about being a member of their group.    It is the right that has pushed the color blind \ assimilation POV.     

 

Cleary people have shared experiences (e.g. I laugh when I hear on a travel show that for culture XYZ,  food and family are central to that culture.    The host says this in a hyped up way to imply it is somehow unique to that culture.   But of course food and family are central to every culture.

 

But there is uniqueness as well.    Just ask any of my Italian relatives.   They really hate being called Europeans and make it clear they are not the same as the French, Germans,   etc....     My experiences is that most people like to play up what they feel makes their culture \ background unique.       Movies just reflect this (often with a heavy hand in a I Remember Mama type manner).

 

 

Oh please DO get political. Ha ha! Movies are ALL about politics. We may THINK they aren't, but they all have messages.

 

All joking aside, I agree with SOME of what you posted here.

 

Not this part though: "It is the right that has pushed the color blind \ assimilation POV."

 

The Right is NOT color blind. Mind you, The Left have their problems as well and I would never say the Left is "perfect" either, but those are different.

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It is all about The Story.

 

It does not matter what the sex life is, but apparently every "gay" storyline has to bring up the sex since that is what makes it "gay". When many conservatives think of "gay marriage", they are NOT thinking about "in sickness and in health" or even "love". They are thinking of what two guys or two girls are doing behind closed doors. They only think of what "straight" couples do-behind-closed-doors AFTER she gets pregnant. In "straight" couple storylines (boy & girl protagonists), much of the story has nothing to do with the bedroom but whatever shared adventures they have together.

 

I just hope... some day... that all "gay drama" will consist of historical subjects depicting a time when they were denied rights and the people in their environment are simply the "villians" to their storyline... and all modern stories will just be matter-of-fact. People have relationships. People have shared experiences. It is not about being "gay", any more than it is about being "black".

You're definitely on track. But you are missing one aspect of this discussion. Even after a society becomes more blended, there will always be references to the past to make sure some of the nefarious crimes of history are not repeated. In Hollywood moviemaking terms that means period films. So there will always be films that show years, way back when, that people marched or refused to move to the back of the bus...or were allowed to marry. How about this analogy-- just because Hitler was defeated does not mean there is no longer any need to make movies about the Holocaust or the Nazi trials. Period films which replay these turning points in history educate future generations about where humanity has been.

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I hate to get political but gay history must be reclaimed- how many movies have we seen in which the characters true nature has been omitted or worse they have been given a "girlfriend"- even in the recent " The Imitation Game" bout the doomed Alan Turing- his sexuality was only suggested.

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You're definitely on track. But you are missing one aspect of this discussion. Even after a society becomes more blended, there will always be references to the past to make sure some of the nefarious crimes of history are not repeated. In Hollywood moviemaking terms that means period films. So there will always be films that show years, way back when, that people marched or refused to move to the back of the bus...or were allowed to marry. How about this analogy-- just because Hitler was defeated does not mean there is no longer any need to make movies about the Holocaust or the Nazi trials. Period films which replay these turning points in history educate future generations about where humanity has been.

 

OK... you have added that aspect to the conversation.

 

You can also add that society is still not blended enough and journeys into The Past can also show us what still needs worked on in the Present. Sort of like the witch hunts of the 17th century in The Crucible add commentary to 1950s McCarthyism.

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OK... you have added that aspect to the conversation.

 

You can also add that society is still not blended enough and journeys into The Past can also show us what still needs worked on in the Present. Sort of like the witch hunts of the 17th century in The Crucible add commentary to 1950s McCarthyism.

That's it, you got it. And we should look at period movies cautiously.

 

Some people might enjoy GONE WITH THE WIND and SONG OF THE SOUTH because they seem to idealize slavery. In a similar vein, there are those who prefer movies and TV shows that were made before Roe v Wade because characters could not be shown having abortions, without dire consequences. 

 

So we have to be aware of how stories about the past might be used to uphold outdated views of society by offering them to audiences nostalgically...when life was "better" because it was more "traditional."

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I hate to get political but gay history must be reclaimed- how many movies have we seen in which the characters true nature has been omitted or worse they have been given a "girlfriend"- even in the recent " The Imitation Game" bout the doomed Alan Turing- his sexuality was only suggested.

 

Again, you can't help but get political. I don't want to start a battle here like on the "off topic" threads, BUT... it is good to acknowledge the differences between parties and the political landscape today when discussing entertainment. Politicians are selected by people after all... and people have their conditioned ways of thinking. AND... Hollywood is all about making money and sometimes they fear they won't make as much if they go along "gay" lines.

 

Sometimes I wonder what would have happened had the Hayes Code not been so strict with CROSSFIRE (1947) and it was presented as it originally was written (a.k.a. THE BRICK FOXHOLE), with the victim being gay instead of Jewish. The film's message of tolerance would still have been the same. Yet it might have jump-started Hollywood and social progress sooner. There were changes in the air elsewhere at that time. In January 1948, the Kinsey Reports disproved many myths "heteronormal" America thought.

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Oliver Stone's "Alexander" was a very brave attempt to reclaim gay history in terms of truthfully presenting Alexander The Great as a gay man who was involved with two very different men in his lifetime - and, yet, at the same time, not concentrating on the diverse details of these affairs and focusing instead on Alexander's military strategies and awe-inspiring victories.

 

I do wish that more A-features had this kind of uncompromising fearlessness.

 

Unfortunately, the film was not a box-office success.

 

And Oliver Stone re-cut it for DVD release and called it "Alexander Revisited".

 

So, what did the film in at the box-office?

 

The fact that heterosexuals could not accept the fact that one of the world's greatest conquerors, if not the world's greatest conqueror, was actually a gay man with a undeniable sexual appetite - for men.

 

Did this truthful presentation shatter a myth - that men of might were first and foremost heterosexuals?.

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Oliver Stone's "Alexander" was a very brave attempt to reclaim gay history in terms of truthfully presenting Alexander The Great as a gay man who was involved with two very different men in his lifetime - and, yet, at the same time, not concentrating on the diverse details of these affairs and focusing instead on Alexander's military strategies and awe-inspiring victories.

 

I do wish that more A-features had this kind of uncompromising fearlessness.

 

Unfortunately, the film was not a box-office success.

 

And Oliver Stone re-cut it for DVD release and called it "Alexander Revisited".

 

So, what did the film in at the box-office?

 

The fact that heterosexuals could not accept the fact that one of the world's greatest conquerors, if not the world's greatest conqueror, was actually a gay man with a undeniable sexual appetite - for men.

 

Did this truthful presentation shatter a myth - that men of might were first and foremost heterosexuals?.

Just because one version, or story of this type, fails at the box office-- does that mean Hollywood should abandon all such projects in the future? Stone has had a few other flops. 

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Just because one version, or story of this type, fails at the box office-- does that mean Hollywood should abandon all such projects in the future? Stone has had a few other flops. 

No, ideally, we should have more films like "Alexander".

 

Personally, I loved it.

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No, ideally, we should have more films like "Alexander".

 

Personally, I loved it.

I agree. But I am saying that studios eyeing the bottom line might shy away from more of those films if they tend to be unprofitable. Still, it shouldn't deter them from making movies that should be made. They can make up for their "losses" on mindless blockbusters.

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Just because one version, or story of this type, fails at the box office-- does that mean Hollywood should abandon all such projects in the future? Stone has had a few other flops. 

 

As you know mainstream Hollywood doesn't like to take risks.   So from a practical POV Hollywood isn't likely to fund projects that they feel push the envelope.   The more likely creators of such works are small independents or made-for-TV movies.    

 

I do wonder why Alexander didn't do well at the box office.   Was it because it didn't have enough action for the target market?   The focus on the gay relationships?    Brad Pitt wasn't the leading star?   (his 'way back in the day' epics did well if I recall).

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