Out at the Movies: A History of Gay Cinema
Steven Paul Davies
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when homosexual acts in private were illegal in the United Kingdom (as they still are in thirteen US states), Britain’s most revered matinee idol, Dirk Bogarde, risked his career to portray Melville Farr, a closeted gay lawyer. The film was released in Britain in 1961, halfway between the Wolfenden Commission’s recommendation of law reform in 1957 and the actual 1967 law reform. In the opening scene of Dearden’s film, a handsome, edgy-looking young man called Barrett is at a construction site.
people; however, the movie takes an interesting turn as MacLaine’s character, Martha Dobie, realises there may be some basis for the child’s lie. Martha is forced to confront her own feelings for her friend Karen (Hepburn) and in an emotional scene she reveals her true feelings. In a speech filled with torment and self-hatred, she cries, ‘I’m guilty! I’ve ruined your life and I’ve ruined my own. I feel so damn sick and dirty, I just can’t stand it anymore.’ The words ‘lesbian’ and ‘homosexuality’
Terry starred as Caravaggio and narrated The Last of England and parts of Blue. Tilda Swinton was Jarman’s most frequent performer, appearing in The Last of England, War Requiem, The Garden, Edward II, Wittgenstein and Blue. Just like Warhol’s body of work, there’s a truly coherent vision running throughout. Jarman’s influence on contemporary gay culture in Britain cannot be underestimated. An opulent, sensual stylist whose stock-in-trade was the abandon with which he painted his visuals,
teenage son Charly and his friend Martin – set themselves up for a string of sexual revelations, all served with oodles of saucy French humour and moral tolerance. The film culminated in what writers Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau call a ‘number of blissful unions and song’, a truly spectacular camp ending. It was all good fun, though nowhere near as interesting as earlier Ducastel and Martineau films. Also from France, and certainly worth a mention, is the documentary Beyond Hatred,
Nichols (The Graduate/The Birdcage) made Angels in America. Adapted by Tony Kushner from his own Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning play, this epic drama, which features an extraordinary cast led by Al Pacino, was actually made for TV. A two-part, six-hour movie event for HBO, Angels in America was lauded as a truly defining screen event and, as well as Pacino, featured other Academy Award- winning actors, Meryl Streep and Emma Thompson along with Mary-Louise Parker, Jeffrey Wright, Justin Kirk,