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TCM spotlight on 'gay hollywood'-- June 2017


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Have you seen the film The Great Garrick,  directed by Whale and starring Brian Aherne and Olivia DeHavilland?

 

I highly recommend this 1937 romantic comedy (which has many fine supporting players like Edward Everett Horton and Lionel Atwill).  One can see Whale's visual style in this fine film.   

 

No; thanks for the info.  I've seen all his horror films which I adore plus REMEMBER LAST NIGHT, THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK some of WATERLOO BRIDGE and SHOWBOAT, the first half of which is film heaven for me with the great Helen Morgan and Paul Robeson (in a Whale biography - the one by James Curtis, I think - assistants had to cold-shower Helen to help her sober up for filming but you'd never know it from her performance).

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The hosts were excellent; some of the best I've seen and they were quite interesting.  I watched as much of the wraparounds as I could and at least part of the movies.  I just love James Whale.  His theater design background in England really comes through in his American films.  I wish he had continued directing.  I caught the last half of the Haines film and yes, it wasn't the best print but at least the film survived.  Plus it was a talkie so we could hear his voice.

 

I love James Whale as well. We all love his horror films. As James says, The Great Garrick, a totally different kind of picture (and highly enjoyable), shows Whale's great talent in another genre as well. Another non-horror scene that comes to mind is the "Old Man River" scene in Show Boat (1936). Just watch that camera -- Whale is making a movie, not shooting a performance!

 

 

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The problem with "Just A Gigolo" is that it is a rather flat attempt at filming a sophisticated comedy in which the wool is being pulled over the hero's eyes.

 

Also, William Haines has too wholesome an image - and demeanor - to bring off the lead role.

 

He needed a far more experienced veneer.

 

A very young Robert Taylor might have been able to bring it off.

 

The success of "Waterloo Bridge" lay in its' extremely persuasive context - Mae Clarke had a total lack of self-esteem.

 

The sudden love of a virginal well-born young man (Kent Douglas) and his wealthy supportive family could only add to her negative feelings about herself.

 

What had she done to bring about a happy ending for herself?

 

Her "death" at the end is a truly harrowing sequence.

 

But it is probably one that she would have felt that she, a street prostitute, would have deserved.

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The problem with "Just A Gigolo" is that it is a rather flat attempt at filming a sophisticated comedy in which the wool is being pulled over the hero's eyes.

 

Also, William Haines has too wholesome an image - and demeanor - to bring off the lead role.

 

He needed a far more experienced veneer.

 

A very young Robert Taylor might have been able to bring it off.

 

The success of "Waterloo Bridge" lay in its' extremely persuasive context - Mae Clarke had a total lack of self-esteem.

 

The sudden love of a virginal well-born young man (Kent Douglas) and his wealthy supportive family could only add to her negative feelings about herself.

 

What had she done to bring about a happy ending for herself?

 

Her "death" at the end is a truly harrowing sequence.

 

But it is probably one that she would have felt that she, a street prostitute, would have deserved.

 

How do you rate this first version with the Vivien Leigh version that came later?

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How do you rate this first version with the Vivien Leigh version that came later?

There's also the third version, "Gaby", with Leslie Caron and John Kerr.

 

The first "Waterloo Bridge" is extremely effective in rendering "the emotional climate" of a fallen woman.

 

The second is much more of a "rounded" love story - its' gloom and doom comes on - gradually.

 

The third - I have only seen it once.

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There's also the third version, "Gaby", with Leslie Caron and John Kerr.

 

The first "Waterloo Bridge" is extremely effective in rendering "the emotional climate" of a fallen woman.

 

The second is much more of a "rounded" love story - its' gloom and doom comes on - gradually.

 

The third - I have only seen it once.

 

I'd forgotten about GABY. I like the second one best-- those character actresses (Lucile Watson and Maria Ouspenskaya) really help.

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Once again the hosts did a great job of introducing the films- I thought "Words and Music" played better than "Night and Day" of course MGM was better at doing this sort of cinematic jukebox musicals.  "Night and Day" user Potter for war time uplift- notice the scene at the end in which wounded soldiers see Porter as an example of triumph over his injuries.  "Words and Music" really should have been about the bromance between Rodgers and Hart.  If Larry was in lover with Richard his torment would have made more sense- but of course the real Hart was a lot darker than Mickey Rooney. I love the early scene in which Harts puts his arm around Hart as they are sitting at the piano and waves that huge phalic cigar around- was Mickey trying to tell us something?

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Once again the hosts did a great job of introducing the films- I thought "Words and Music" played better than "Night and Day" of course MGM was better at doing this sort of cinematic jukebox musicals.

 

What a great phrase. I'd never heard it expressed that way before.

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What a great phrase. I'd never heard it expressed that way before.

The closest that "Words and Music" came to expressing Lorenz Hart's homosexual anguish was in the sequence in which Mel Torme sang "Blue Moon".

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Dave Karger and William J. Mann on their discussion of "Rope" -

 

They contend that Alfred Hitchcock, Arthur Laurents, John Dall and Farley Granger were deeply involved in discussing the homosexual nature of the material -

 

well, yes, I should hope so -

 

but they also contend that they left the star, Jimmy Stewart, out of these discussions and that he didn't know that his character, Rupert Cadell, was a gay man -

 

I can't share that opinion -

 

James Stewart had to realize what was going on with the material.

 

The film version of "Rope" is essentially an act of seduction -

 

Brandon and Phillip want to be punished by Rupert for what they have done to their friend -

 

they "set him up" and he's more than willing -

 

three gay men - and a secret -

 

quite a situation!

 

tumblr_mshqi5ab6g1re1poeo1_1280.jpg

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Dave Karger and William J. Mann on their discussion of "Rope" -

 

They contend that Alfred Hitchcock, Arthur Laurents, John Dall and Farley Granger were deeply involved in discussing the homosexual nature of the material -

 

well, yes, I should hope so -

 

but they also contend that they left the star, Jimmy Stewart, out of these discussions and that he didn't know that his character, Rupert Cadell, was a gay man -

 

I can't share that opinion -

 

James Stewart had to realize what was going on with the material.

 

I agree, Ray. I think this is a case where they are trying to protect Jimmy Stewart's image-- by saying he couldn't possibly have known he was portraying a gay character, that he had to be tricked into it. I highly doubt it happened that way. My guess is he hadn't worked with Hitchcock yet and was interested in doing so, and edgier material might help him prevent being typecast after IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE.  I'm sure he read the script forward and backwards and had a thorough understanding of the character he had signed on to play.

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I agree, Ray. I think this is a case where they are trying to protect Jimmy Stewart's image-- by saying he couldn't possibly have known he was portraying a gay character, that he had to be tricked into it. I highly doubt it happened that way. My guess is he hadn't worked with Hitchcock yet and was interested in doing so, and edgier material might help him prevent being typecast after IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE.  I'm sure he read the script forward and backwards and had a thorough understanding of the character he had signed on to play.

In the play, Rupert is much gayer than in the film version.

 

And he also carries a cane that becomes a sword, which he is able to use against Brandon and Phillip.

 

In the film, the character is toned down.

 

Perhaps a concession to James Stewart.

 

But that Rupert has an "intimate" knowledge of Brandon and Phillip cannot be denied.

 

They have been "friends" for a long time.

 

They are "lovers" and he knows it.

 

Because, he, too is a long-time gay friend of theirs.

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In the play, Rupert is much gayer than in the film version.

 

And he also carries a cane that becomes a sword, which he is able to use against Brandon and Phillip.

 

And Jimmy Stewart in all likelihood had seen the play. He was an Oscar winner who worked in theater before the movies. He was no dummy. He knew what kind of role he was taking in this film. The concessions that were made may have more to do with the production code than with Stewart himself. But to suggest they were all discussing the gay subtext without him is ludicrous. They would have all been going over the scenes together. And if anything Stewart would have had more in-depth discussions about the dual nature of the character with Hitchcock since he was the star, and the film's success hinged on his performance.

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And Jimmy Stewart in all likelihood had seen the play. He was an Oscar winner who worked in theater before the movies. He was no dummy. He knew what kind of role he was taking in this film. The concessions that were made may have more to do with the production code than with Stewart himself. But to suggest they were all discussing the gay subtext without him is ludicrous. They would have all been going over the scenes together. And if anything Stewart would have had more in-depth discussions about the dual nature of the character with Hitchcock since he was the star, and the film's success hinged on his performance.

Rupert's discovery of Brandon and Phillip's "secret" is not exactly a triumph - he shoots two shots outside of the window and then sits down - almost in defeat - to await the consequences.

 

As a gay man, he is obviously feeling very, very badly.

 

Hitchcock shoots this scene from Stewart's back.

 

The pain that he must be feeling is perhaps too much for the camera.

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Interesting comments re' ROPE.  At first I thought the commentators were right.  Stewart was conservative, politics-wise, so maybe he was kept out of the loop on purpose.  But, you're right, he had been involved in theater so surely he would have been familiar with the play.  Stewart must have been interested in working with Hitchcock and was looking for darker material post-WW2 (Anthony Mann westerns, other Hitchcock flicks, etc.).  James Stewart wasn't an idiot.  I agree, Rupert's homosexuality is toned down due to censorship at that time.

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Interesting comments re' ROPE.  At first I thought the commentators were right.  Stewart was conservative, politics-wise, so maybe he was kept out of the loop on purpose.  But, you're right, he had been involved in theater so surely he would have been familiar with the play.  Stewart must have been interested in working with Hitchcock and was looking for darker material post-WW2 (Anthony Mann westerns, other Hitchcock flicks, etc.).  James Stewart wasn't an idiot.  I agree, Rupert's homosexuality is toned down due to censorship at that time.

 

I don't think the actors' politics have much to do with it sometimes. Donna Reed was a conservative, known for wholesome roles, but she was eager to play against type in FROM HERE TO ETERNITY, which netted her the Oscar. 

 

They try to stretch themselves with different material and directors who can help them expand their range as performers.

 

I am sure Stewart had many gay friends, if he worked on Broadway and in Hollywood movies. He wasn't married until he was 41, so he might even have had affairs with men in his younger days. The more conservative image we associate him with developed when he was older.

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I don't think the actors' politics have much to do with it sometimes. Donna Reed was a conservative, known for wholesome roles, but she was eager to play against type in FROM HERE TO ETERNITY, which netted her the Oscar. 

 

They try to stretch themselves with different material and directors who can help them expand their range as performers.

 

I am sure Stewart had many gay friends, if he worked on Broadway and in Hollywood movies. He wasn't married until he was 40, so he might even have had affairs with men in his younger days. The more conservative image we associate him with developed when he was older.

 

Solid points, TopBilled, that's why they call it acting. I always thought the reason Stewart didn't marry until 40 was because he enjoyed being a bachelor with all the ladies - he certainly liked kissing Harlow in WIFE VS. SECRETARY enough to get retakes and had the hots for Margaret Sullivan.  Of course, we weren't around in his younger years so we don't know for certain about any affairs and the notorious casting couch applied to men as well as women.

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Solid points, TopBilled, that's why they call it acting. I always thought the reason Stewart didn't marry until 40 was because he enjoyed being a bachelor with all the ladies - he certainly liked kissing Harlow in WIFE VS. SECRETARY enough to get retakes and had the hots for Margaret Sullivan.  Of course, we weren't around in his younger years so we don't know for certain about any affairs and the notorious casting couch applied to men as well as women.

 

I think he was terribly hung up on Sullavan, but there was something about him that kept her from marrying him. Hitchcock liked working with actors who were sexually fluid and could seem to go both ways on screen. And Hitch made four films with him. Jimmy was under contract to MGM in the late 30s and early 40s, and L.B. Mayer was notorious for arranging marriages to cover up gay or bisexual stars' private lives. So I wonder why Mayer didn't succeed in marrying Jimmy off before the war. It does seem unusual that he never had a previous wedding engagement, at least nothing that was ever publicized, then he ends up finally getting married at 41. 

 

In BROKEN ARROW there's a lot of sexual attraction between him and Jeff Chandler. He has more chemistry with Chandler than he does with his actual leading lady, Debra Paget.

 

In THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE, we have Duke as the definer of masculinity and marksmanship; and we have Jimmy as a more femme-type character who has to be taught to be a man by Duke.

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Just an observation, nothing more, but, at the start of his film career, Jimmy Stewart would have been enormously attractive to gay men.

 

He had a "feminine quality" that invaded his young masculinity.

 

He could so easily go both ways.

 

And, I am betting, that he probably did.

 

Of course, MGM protected its' stars.

 

Some of them, though, escaped the marriage bind.

 

William Haines, Katherine Hepburn, etc.

 

But most of them, like Van Johnson and Robert Taylor, could not.  

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Just an observation, nothing more, but, at the start of his film career, Jimmy Stewart would have been enormously attractive to gay men.

 

He had a "feminine quality" that invaded his young masculinity.

 

He could so easily go both ways.

 

And, I am betting, that he probably did.

 

Of course, MGM protected its' stars.

 

Some of them, though, escaped the marriage bind.

 

William Haines, Katherine Hepburn, etc.

 

But most of them, like Van Johnson and Robert Taylor, could not.  

 

Yeah...I think MGM was probably the "gayest" studio. And it's interesting Mayer kept putting these people on contract that were not heterosexuals the way he wanted them to be. But I suppose he thought he could just keep "fixing" it.

 

Despite having a gay director like Mitchell Leisen, I think Paramount was probably the "straightest" studio. Guys like Alan Ladd, Brian Donlevy, William Bendix, Fred MacMurray, Bob Hope, William Holden, Richard Arlen, Richard Denning, Chester Morris, Macdonald Carey, W.C. Fields, Eddie Bracken, Sonny Tufts, John Payne, John Derek-- none of them were ever linked through gossip with other men romantically. And on screen they seem to be very attuned to their femaie costars.

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I think he was terribly hung up on Sullavan, but there was something about him that kept her from marrying him. Hitchcock liked working with actors who were sexually fluid and could seem to go both ways on screen. And Hitch made four films with him. Jimmy was under contract to MGM in the late 30s and early 40s, and L.B. Mayer was notorious for arranging marriages to cover up gay or bisexual stars' private lives. So I wonder why Mayer didn't succeed in marrying Jimmy off before the war. It does seem unusual that he never had a previous wedding engagement, at least nothing that was ever publicized, then he ends up finally getting married at 41. 

 

In BROKEN ARROW there's a lot of sexual attraction between him and Jeff Chandler. He has more chemistry with Chandler than he does with his actual leading lady, Debra Paget.

 

In THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE, we have Duke as the definer of masculinity and marksmanship; and we have Jimmy as a more femme-type character who has to be taught to be a man by Duke.

 

Re' BROKEN ARROW and other Jeff Chandler films: I think everybody, regardless of sexuality, had more chemistry with Jeff Chandler than Debra Paget (sorry, Debra Paget fans).

 

I never thought James Stewart might have been bisexual but rayban and TopBilled make interesting observations.  Stewart was always good looking and had a manner about him appealing to everybody.  As a young man in the 1930s he's not playing super macho types and maybe that's why he makes a  (SPOILER) surprising villain in the second THIN MAN movie and in ROSE MARIE.

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Re' BROKEN ARROW and other Jeff Chandler films: I think everybody, regardless of sexuality, had more chemistry with Jeff Chandler than Debra Paget (sorry, Debra Paget fans).

 

I never thought James Stewart might have been bisexual but rayban and TopBilled make interesting observations.  Stewart was always good looking and had a manner about him appealing to everybody.  As a young man in the 1930s he's not playing super macho types and maybe that's why he makes a  (SPOILER) surprising villain in the second THIN MAN movie and in ROSE MARIE.

 

I think when he scored a big hit with MR. SMITH, he became the American everyman. And conservatives kind of adopted him. But I really doubt he was very conservative when he was younger. 

 

He never really bulked up. He's not muscular in any film or TV series. Not traditionally masculine in the Clark Gable sort of way. That doesn't mean he's gay or bi, necessarily, but I do think there's a soft feminine quality to him that carries on into his later work. And Hitch had to have seen it.

 

P.S. I'm a Jeff Chandler fan. He's gorgeous. I will be polite and not trash Miss Paget. LOL

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Interesting points about "Rope" and James Stewart- I never thought of him as gay or bisexual but hey he was an actor so who knows- he has a very low key masculinity- why did he marry late who knows?  The killers in "Rope" are obviously gay to out modern eyes - I don't know how they missed that when the film was released  in  1948 - apart from the censors that would have never allowed it - the hosts pointed out such things were not discussed in polite society at that time.  Rupert does not  seem gay to me in the movie.   He is responsible for the murder because it was his ideas that drove the killers to do it - yeah the murder sacrifice can be seen as love token to Rupert.  "Rope" is a story I would love to see remade- still set in that period but a more explicit take on the material.

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