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hepclassic

The Gay Best Friend

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Okay, it's not that I am trying to find this in classic film, but its not like I don't know the purposefully asexual friend of the opposite sex in classic films who gets along with the women of the picture as if he fits in, or the asexual friend of the opposite sex who hangs out with and prefers the company of men compared to women, but they are out there, and I can't help but think about how influential they are in the whole gay best friend trope that appears in film today. 

 

Of course, they are only asexual because the Code wouldn't allow those to come out of the closet character-wise. I think of Kip in Adam's Rib, or the Mercedes McCambridge character in Giant. Mrs. Danvers may not be the Second Mrs. DeWinter's friend, but she was Rebecca's. She may be more, but with every lesbian stereotype of the 1940s, she was the villain- but since it's All About Rebecca...Then there is Addison De Witt in All About Eve, who really isn't anyone's best friend except Miss Caswell's...but there are traces. 

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Okay, it's not that I am trying to find this in classic film, but its not like I don't know the purposefully asexual friend of the opposite sex in classic films who gets along with the women of the picture as if he fits in, or the asexual friend of the opposite sex who hangs out with and prefers the company of men compared to women, but they are out there, and I can't help but think about how influential they are in the whole gay best friend trope that appears in film today. 

 

Of course, they are only asexual because the Code wouldn't allow those to come out of the closet character-wise. I think of Kip in Adam's Rib, or the Mercedes McCambridge character in Giant. Mrs. Danvers may not be the Second Mrs. DeWinter's friend, but she was Rebecca's. She may be more, but with every lesbian stereotype of the 1940s, she was the villain- but since it's All About Rebecca...Then there is Addison De Witt in All About Eve, who really isn't anyone's best friend except Miss Caswell's...but there are traces. 

 

Good example of gays characters that couldn't 'come out' due to the code.   But I wouldn't place De Witt in that category.   To me that would be utilizing the stereotype that someone that is into the arts must be gay.    Note the party guess De Witt brings is Monroe.  De Witt traded sexual favors with women for advancement.    There are not hints in the film he did this with young males. 

 

In another thread we have been discussion the Waldo character in Laura;  Since Webb the actor playing Waldo is gay it can lead one to think that Waldo isn't really in love with Laura sexually.    Does Waldo attempt to kill Laura just to keep her other men from touching her with no real desires to do the same?      It does come off this way but I'm not sure if that was how the director \ screenwriter wanted it to be or just because of how Webb plays the part. 

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Good example of gays characters that couldn't 'come out' due to the code.   But I wouldn't place De Witt in that category.   To me that would be utilizing the stereotype that someone that is into the arts must be gay.    Note the party guess De Witt brings is Monroe.  De Witt traded sexual favors with women for advancement.    There are not hints in the film he did this with young males. 

 

 

 

Just for the sake of conversation, what would be a permissible hint back then to suggest that he would have traded sexual favors for advancement? Is it not possible that Caswell and Eve were beards? 

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In another thread we have been discussion the Waldo character in Laura;  Since Webb the actor playing Waldo is gay it can lead one to think that Waldo isn't really in love with Laura sexually.    Does Waldo attempt to kill Laura just to keep her other men from touching her with no real desires to do the same?      It does come off this way but I'm not sure if that was how the director \ screenwriter wanted it to be or just because of how Webb plays the part. 

 I would have to see Laura to figure that. Often times they made the hinted gay characters villians or murderers because at the time, that is what that orientation was thought to lead to. 

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Just for the sake of conversation, what would be a permissible hint back then to suggest that he would have traded sexual favors for advancement? Is it not possible that Caswell and Eve were beards? 

 

As it relates to Eve,  no hints are required.  In the ugliest scene in the film,  De Witt makes it clear he owns Eve for not exposing all the lies she used to advance herself.    To me it is clear that he wants to own more than just her contract.  

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As it relates to Eve,  no hints are required.  In the ugliest scene in the film,  De Witt makes it clear he owns Eve for not exposing all the lies she used to advance herself.    To me it is clear that he wants to own more than just her contract.  

 I can see that. That scene and his character just came off as petty to me, especially in the tone of his voice. I get that he's threatened, and that he doesn't like being played, let alone when he's apart of the game. 

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Good example of gays characters that couldn't 'come out' due to the code.   But I wouldn't place De Witt in that category.   To me that would be utilizing the stereotype that someone that is into the arts must be gay.    Note the party guess De Witt brings is Monroe.  De Witt traded sexual favors with women for advancement.    There are not hints in the film he did this with young males. 

 

In another thread we have been discussion the Waldo character in Laura;  Since Webb the actor playing Waldo is gay it can lead one to think that Waldo isn't really in love with Laura sexually.    Does Waldo attempt to kill Laura just to keep her other men from touching her with no real desires to do the same?      It does come off this way but I'm not sure if that was how the director \ screenwriter wanted it to be or just because of how Webb plays the part. 

I don't think we know for sure that DeWitt is having a sexual relationship with Monroe's character. I would think many women like Monroe's character (and even Monroe herself in real life) have had gay or asexual friends they go out with. I do agree that there do not seem to be any hints that DeWitt is having sexual relations with younger men or even any men at all, but it could be occurring off-screen, in the background of the story.

 

As for Waldo, that's another beast entirely. Dana Andrews' biographer told me that during filming, Webb made sexual advances towards Andrews (which Andrews declined). So we know Webb was attracted to Andrews, and I think that definitely comes through on screen. Whether it was intended or not by the screenwriter with some of the dialogue is anyone's guess, In a way, I think Vincent Price's character is somewhat sexually ambiguous and that Judith Anderson's character will function as a beard for him on some level. 

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I don't think we know for sure that DeWitt is having a sexual relationship with Monroe's character. I would think many women like Monroe's character (and even Monroe herself in real life) have had gay or asexual friends they go out with. I do agree that there do not seem to be any hints that DeWitt is having sexual relations with younger men or even any men at all, but it could be occurring off-screen, in the background of the story.

The characters in "All About Eve" were part of theater society, but also part of New York society as well. It seems like it was important to Addison to be seen at all the right places, with somebody appropriate on his arm. Whether it was a "dish" like Miss Caswell or the latest "it girl" like Eve, it was kind of like he wore them as apparel, which is the essence of what a "beard" is. When he pushed Miss Caswell toward the producer at the party and told her to do herself some good, that wasn't a lover talking, it was a more disinterested platonic professional advisor. Even in the scene where he loomed over Eve collapsed on the bed, it never really seemed sexual. His interest seemed more proprietary. I'm relying on memory, but didn't he tell Eve that she wasn't going to marry Lloyd or anybody else? Which I took to mean that he wasn't about to marry her either, only to have some kind of exclusivity as far as showing her off and bolstering his claim of discovering and mentoring her.

 

As for men in his life, he would have had to be the most discrete person of all. As a man who traded on secrets and disclosures in his column, he couldn't let anything get out there which could stick to him. It's speculation, of course, and I think that's because, as we've mentioned before in these discussions, moviemakers kind of wanted to have it both ways. They wanted these characters to have dark undercurrents and suspect motives, but they wouldn't come right out and say why. They relied in large part on the hope that it would ring some bells with part of the audience and go right over the heads of the rest. So it's kept us guessing right up until today.

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The characters in "All About Eve" were part of theater society, but also part of New York society as well. It seems like it was important to Addison to be seen at all the right places, with somebody appropriate on his arm. Whether it was a "dish" like Miss Caswell or the latest "it girl" like Eve, it was kind of like he wore them as apparel, which is the essence of what a "beard" is. When he pushed Miss Caswell toward the producer at the party and told her to do herself some good, that wasn't a lover talking, it was a more disinterested platonic professional advisor. Even in the scene where he loomed over Eve collapsed on the bed, it never really seemed sexual. His interest seemed more proprietary. I'm relying on memory, but didn't he tell Eve that she wasn't going to marry Lloyd or anybody else? Which I took to mean that he wasn't about to marry her either, only to have some kind of exclusivity as far as showing her off and bolstering his claim of discovering and mentoring her.

 

As for men in his life, he would have had to be the most discrete person of all. As a man who traded on secrets and disclosures in his column, he couldn't let anything get out there which could stick to him. It's speculation, of course, and I think that's because, as we've mentioned before in these discussions, moviemakers kind of wanted to have it both ways. They wanted these characters to have dark undercurrents and suspect motives, but they wouldn't come right out and say why. They relied in large part on the hope that it would ring some bells with part of the audience and go right over the heads of the rest. So it's kept us guessing right up until today.

 

Clearly De Witt used people.  Of course he wasn't in love with Miss Caswell,  since he couldn't be in love with anyone but himself, but that doesn't mean he didn't trade sexual favors to advance her career.    The question is if he did this with men as well.   It is likely that he did since often the use of power for sex is more about one's ego than one's sexuality.     But even given the code if that is a theme the director wished to make about this character they could have shown him having a young male assistance (i.e. some male under his influence).

 

De Witt tells Eve he OWNS her in that scene.   One way he does is that he has her under contract and decides what she does and doesn't do.   So again we are left to assume if a part of this ownership is a sexual relationship.    I assume it is only because it makes the entire ordeal all the more ugly and that De Witt ends up being the only so called winner in the entire film (well also with Margo finding peace with herself).       But hey I'm looking at this from the angle of a man that if I was around gals that looked like Monroe I would at least make a pass!

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When he pushed Miss Caswell toward the producer at the party and told her to do herself some good, that wasn't a lover talking, it was a more disinterested platonic professional advisor. 

He operated more like a pimp than a lover. And his owning Eve signifies a similar relationship. It was all business, using these women to get the men in a vulnerable position. DeWiit had no sexual interest in any of them, because he felt he was above them and too busy pushing them around like pawns on the proverbial chess board.

 

I don't think Addison DeWitt fits this thread at all. He was not exactly anyone's friend.

 

A better example for this thread would be the Rupert Everett character in the Madonna flick THE NEXT BEST THING, where the gay male is the woman's friend to the point that he agrees to help her conceive a child.

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A better example for this thread would be the Rupert Everett character in the Madonna flick THE NEXT BEST THING, where the gay male is the woman's friend to the point that he agrees to help her conceive a child.

 

Yes, but that film is only 15 years old, so, does it even quantify classic status? 

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Yes, but that film is only 15 years old, so, does it even quantify classic status? 

Not sure if the age of a film determines whether it's a classic. Some movies that are 75 years old are junk and hardly classics...right?

 

I was just using THE NEXT BEST THING as the first movie that popped into my mind regarding gay men who have straight female friends. There may be more 'classic' examples.

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Not sure if the age of a film determines whether it's a classic. Some movies that are 75 years old are junk and hardly classics...right?

 

I was just using THE NEXT BEST THING as the first movie that popped into my mind regarding gay men who have straight female friends. There may be more 'classic' examples.

 I guess it depends on each individual subjective mind. In my opinion, a film has to survive 25 years and still have appeal and draw to it, but that's just me. 

 

I see what you mean in use of that example, and I have nothing against the example, I just hope to find more classic examples because it's fun to look. 

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He operated more like a pimp than a lover. And his owning Eve signifies a similar relationship. It was all business, using these women to get the men in a vulnerable position. DeWiit had no sexual interest in any of them, because he felt he was above them and too busy pushing them around like pawns on the proverbial chess board.

 

I don't think Addison DeWitt fits this thread at all. He was not exactly anyone's friend.

 

A better example for this thread would be the Rupert Everett character in the Madonna flick THE NEXT BEST THING, where the gay male is the woman's friend to the point that he agrees to help her conceive a child.

 

First I agree DeWitt doesn't fit this thread,  but I'm still unsure about the sexual interest of this character.   As I joked,  my own interest tend to create a bias, as well as the actor playing the character,  but these factors don't relate to what the director \ screenwriter(s) were actually trying to convey.      I just don't see any hints, one way or the other expect as you noted that they never show DeWitt trying to make an actual sexual move on Eve.   

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First I agree DeWitt doesn't fit this thread,  but I'm still unsure about the sexual interest of this character.   As I joked,  my own interest tend to create a bias, as well as the actor playing the character,  but these factors don't relate to what the director \ screenwriter(s) were actually trying to convey.      I just don't see any hints, one way or the other expect as you noted that they never show DeWitt trying to make an actual sexual move on Eve.   

Obviously, George Sanders was perfect in the role-- but I do wonder if Laird Cregar hadn't died, if he would have been assigned by the studio to do a part like Addison. If so, then I think Addison DeWitt would have been even more diabolical and sinister in terms of how he manipulated others. 

 

As for the intent behind the story, Mankiewicz was both director and writer of ALL ABOUT EVE-- so if he wanted to shade something more ambiguously, I am sure he could have done so, with ease.

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As Topbilled has pointed out, Rupert Everett played the gay best friend beautifully in "The Next Best Thing".

 

He also played the gay best friend - famously - in "My Best Friend's Wedding".

 

But would either of these films be deemed classics?

 

I think that "My Best Friend's Wedding" could become one.

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A film that might be considered a classic is the English film, "Darling", which was made in 1965.

 

Diana Scott (Julie Christie) had a gay best friend, the photographer, Malcolm (Roland Curran).

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Regarding the Tony Randall roles in the Doris Day/Rock Hudson films, "Pillow Talk", "Lover Come Back" and "Send Me No Flowers", could all of these roles be regarded as "the gay best friend"?

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Regarding the Tony Randall roles in the Doris Day/Rock Hudson films, "Pillow Talk", "Lover Come Back" and "Send Me No Flowers", could all of these roles be regarded as "the gay best friend"?

How would Tony Randall be considered the gay best friend in your mind? It's not like he could state the obvious of his person in his performances.

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A film that might be considered a classic is the English film, "Darling", which was made in 1965.

 

Diana Scott (Julie Christie) had a gay best friend, the photographer, Malcolm (Roland Curran).

She does, and that's part of the film's controversy. 

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How would Tony Randall be considered the gay best friend in your mind? It's not like he could state the obvious of his person in his performances.

In each of these performances in those films, he set off such definite gay vibes.

 

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Rock and Tony in "Send Me No Flowers".

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In each of these performances in those films, he set off such definite gay vibes.

 

hqdefault.jpg

 

Rock and Tony in "Send Me No Flowers".

Define "gay vibes?" 

 

I mean, I know some heterosexuals believe they have a radar system in their heads that suggest a certain orientation in other men and women, but gay vibes could mean, at least in the classic sense, stereotypical associations. 

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Yes, with Tony Randall, "stereotypical associations".

Just wanted the clarity. 

 

I don't think there is a classic film that would present a GLBT character (GLBT lite) without a non-stereotypical association. The only thing that comes close is Queen Christina (1933). 

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Today, on TCM, the channel aired an unusually absorbing Bette Davis' picture, "Winter Meeting", in which John Hoyt played Davis' gay best friend, Stacy Grant

 

He embraced the role totally and he played it beautifully.

 

Davis' character, Susan Grieve, seemed to be very close to him.

 

You could easily have seen them as a very close husband and wife.

 

Unusual, I'd say, for a film in the late '40's to be so open about "homosexuality" and, yet, at the same time, say nothing openly about such a subject.

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