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More gay subtext in old movies ?

Watching the classic Minnelli MGM musical THE BANDWAGON once again yesterday it struck me that the Jack Buchanan character, the highbrow theatre director Jeffrey Cordova, could be construed as being gay: he is flamboyant, over the top, no mention of a woman in his life AND he has a perfect Vincente Minnelli style townhouse (that yellow and white room they (Astaire, Charisse, Fabray, Levant) wait in is to die for. Then there is Hal his assistant or PR man who is always on hand, even at 3am - does he live there too ? Is this crafy Vincente telling us they are an item .... ?

Then there is Clifton Webb in WOMAN'S WORLD in 1954 - of course everything Clifton played seems gay but here is the the owner of the car company who is seeking a new general manager so the 3 couples are vetted. Clifton is effortlessly in charge here as with his sister they vet the candidates. Again there is no woman in his life and its implied he is devoted to his general managers. He handles the ladies (Bacall, Allyson and Arlene Dahl who comes on to him so her husband will get the job) with aplomb - but it all seems terribly gay to me.

Just like David Wayne seems like a very coded gay as the bachelor neigbour of Hepburn & Tracy in Adam's Rib.

Any other possible candidates ? - and of course there's Lee Van Cleef and Earl Holiman as the couple of gangsters who seem more than friends in The Big Combo in 1955 ...

by Anonymousreply 2105/18/2013

Hmm I love The Bandwagon - and yes Cordova (Buchanan) pings big time.

So does Clifton in anything.

by Anonymousreply 109/18/2010

Bell, book and Candel.

by Anonymousreply 209/18/2010


by Anonymousreply 309/18/2010

There was actually a lot of gay subtext - both accidental and intentional - in films of the 1920's-1950's.

If you have a couple of hours, check out the 1995 compilation "The Lavender Lens" at the link below. I had that on VHS when it first came out, but I heard that the filmmaker (David Johnson) got into trouble with some copyright holders on the "sampled" works, and it was off the market for a good ten years. Heard rumors it was released on DVD, but I couldn't find any reliable site that offers it (There is a paypal site linked to a YouTube exerpt from it, but I have no idea if that is safe.)

It's a little like "The Celluloid Closet" except there is no commentary, just clips organized into similar topics, and it covers not just theatrical movies but TV shows, commercials, documentaries and cartoons (Bugs Bunny is SUCH a queen! :)

One of my favorite scenes is from a western I probably saw a dozen times when I was a kid, but looking at it in this context, with the cowboys admiring each others' guns - the size, the feel of it in your hand, its power - makes me realize how truly innocent I was back then. I put it on at a party one time, and people were rolling on the floor laughing, especially at the 1950's-style documentaries warning about predatory homosexuals going after kids, and "butch dykes" ganging up on a poor, defenseless innocent girl.

by Anonymousreply 409/18/2010

Strange Bedfellows - comedy with Rock Hudson and Gina Lollobrigida. Gig Young hits on Rock and Rock gets in bed with a guy (it's all a misunderstanding....right?). Co-starring Nancy Kulp as a not-so-veiled lesbian character

by Anonymousreply 509/19/2010

A lot of Gary Cooper movies have gay subtext.

Like "The Virginian", where his relationship with another man turns from hate to love, and they get drunk and end up in bed together. (Fully clothed) It's supposed to be a bromance, I suppose.

by Anonymousreply 609/19/2010

Red River. Although I'm not entirely sure it is "sub"text.

by Anonymousreply 709/19/2010

Bell Book & Candle is a definite - wasn't author John Van Druten gay and the play about witches could be seen as about the secret life of gays in New York then - with even their own nightclub (presided over by La Gingold!) - and Jack Lemmon as Novak's young brother (this was before Some Like It Hot) says "they are all around us" to a bewildered Ernie Kovaks who is trying to find the coven of witches (or gays). Red River is the western where they are comparing gun sizes - and its quite obvious about those gangsters in The Big Combo.

by Anonymousreply 809/19/2010

and yes Cordova is a screaming queen in Bandwagon.

by Anonymousreply 909/19/2010


by Anonymousreply 1009/19/2010

R2? What do you mean with that?

by Anonymousreply 1205/06/2013

Actually in most movies there is lesbian subtext. Gay subtext is more rare to find out there.

by Anonymousreply 1305/06/2013

[italic]Gilda[/italic] has one of the weirdest plot lines I've seen, especially for a "classic" movie.

by Anonymousreply 1405/06/2013

This is cheating a little, since it's the film of a play in which there is arguable gay subtext, but, that said, it has been persuasively argued that Blanche DuBois in Streetcar Named Desire is actually a drag queen, which is how Tallulah Bankhead played her on stage (yes, I know that Jessica Tandy originated the role -- don't know at what point Bankhead played her. Dinner theater, maybe).

by Anonymousreply 1505/06/2013

Some of the gay subtext might just be that masculinity wasn't policed in the exact same way - today a male character who's into musical theatre in a modern movie is read as gay, whereas everyone went to the theatre in the fifties.

Robert Walker in Strangers on a Train definitely pings though, and obviously there's nothing subtle about Rope at all.

Did Mel Brooks base Roger DeBris on Cordova in The Bandwagon?

by Anonymousreply 1605/06/2013

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Even thought they try to keep it under wraps, its pretty clear what the deal was between Brick and Skipper.

Deliverance. There seems to be something brewing between Burt Reynolds and John Voight's character, although its mostly one sided.

by Anonymousreply 1705/06/2013

Watching Strange Bedfellows now-Rock Hudson and Edward Judd look hot together in bed,especially when Judd asks Rock if "you'll come?"!!

by Anonymousreply 1805/18/2013

R17, they didn't try to keep the relationship between the two men under wraps: they tried to make it as clear as the censors and studios would let them at the time. The play was all about that, and is practically a period piece.

Although it wasn't intended as gay subtext, there was a moment in "The Paper Chase" in which a classmate straightens Timothy Bottoms' tie. It was so electrifying to me that I went to law school. (Turns out that it was as good as any other reason for going to law school.)

by Anonymousreply 1905/18/2013

"Wings," the first Best Picture winner, shows one pilot comforting him on his deathbed. They have a full kiss on the lips.

The title card then says: "Oh, Dave, I was just trying to get one more Heinie for you."

by Anonymousreply 2005/18/2013

The Celluloid Closet is so amazing. I still know very little about The Golden Age, but this taught me a lot. I will have to get a DVD of that if it exists with the licensing issues, it's been 20 years.

I'm sure I would've spotted some of it, as it's quite overt in some films even if it's all "read between the lines" with a lot of scripts which as a result could often be sharper than today's but I was surprised to see so much. And Queen Lily Tomlin further enhances her reputation as the best living gay.

by Anonymousreply 2105/18/2013
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