For Cinema's Creepy Stalker Men Love Means Never Having To Say You're Sorry
Long before Ryan O’Neal was saying love means never having to say you’re sorry and before Julia Roberts was Sleeping With The Enemy and faking her death to escape her psychotic husband, women going way back to the 30’s in cinema were dealing with creepy stalker men who had some very warped ideas about love.
In Swing Time, Penny played by Ginger Rogers, had to deal with a creepy stalker man in the form of bandleader Ricardo Romero. He sabotaged her big break in show business because he couldn’t tolerate her to dance with anyone but him. Then he had the nerve to wrap it all in an, “I love you.” It didn’t seem to occur to him that he’d hardly win her love by sabotaging her career. He seemed to think he could do whatever crappy thing he wanted to do then slap on an, “I love you,” and it would make it all right.
Ingrid Bergman had even bigger problems with her creepy stalker man, Charles Boyer, in Gaslight. He murdered her aunt and was obsessed with finding some jewels her aunt had. He waited until Bergman grew-up and convinced her to marry him. Then he took her back to her aunt’s house so he could search for the jewels. While he was searching he began undermining her and trying to convince her she was losing her mind. Henceforth, the term gaslight has been used for anyone playing sick games with your head to try and make you think you’re crazy.
Shirley Jones had some major trouble of her own with creepy farmhand Jud in Oklahoma. He apparently became obsessed with her when he was sick. Then she decided to go to a dance with him to spite the guy she was really in love with and brought on a world of trouble to herself and Curly. Aside from catching Jud peeking at her through her bedroom window, when she and Curly got married, he tried to set them both on fire. When Jud died during a fight with Curly, Curly almost went to prison for murdering him. If you’re really interested in one guy, don’t go out with a creepy stalker guy to spite him. It’ll backfire on you big time every time.
Sometimes you don’t even have to date one of them for them to start acting all creepily possessive like they own you. All you have to do is work one for them to think you’re their property. Angel in The Greatest Show On Earth found that out. No matter how many times she told Klaus, the elephant trainer, she wasn’t interested in him, he wouldn’t take no for an answer. When he saw Angel cozying up to Charlton Heston he decided to show her who was boss. While they were performing their act with the elephants in front of a live audience, Klaus threatened to have one of the elephants crush her face. When Heston came to the rescue and put Klaus little psychotic game to a stop, he called after Angel, surprised she couldn’t get away from him fast enough. It was like he was saying, “Angel, don’t be mad I threatened to make elephant crush your face. I love you. Come back.”
Even America’s sweetheart, Doris Day, had more than her fair share of creepy stalker men to deal with in a couple of her movies. In Love Me Or Leave Me James Cagney helped her with her career and thought he owned her after that. She couldn’t shake free of him. It made a good cautionary tale of accepting help from the wrong person.
But perhaps the creepiest stalker man of all was Rod Steiger in No Way To Treat A Lady. He was going around stalking women who lived alone. He’d trick his way into their apartments by donning a disguise that made them trust him and open up their homes to him. Then he’d strangle them, drag them to the bathroom where he posed them on the toilet and painted his mother’s lips on their forehead in lipstick.
All the creepy stalker men seem to have one thing in common. They think their supposed love makes it okay to do whatever they want to their object of love. In a lot of the above mentioned cases, it’s more about controlling the object of their love than actually loving them. Take the case of Penny and Ricardo Romero in Swing Time. If Ricardo actually loved Penny he’d want to help her succeed in her career goals instead of try to sabotage them. It came down to him trying to control her and prevent her from dancing with anyone but him. He even admitted she could dance alone, but not with another man. That’s not love; that’s trying to control someone.
It was the same case for Angel in The Greatest Show On Earth. The elephant trainer was always trying to exert his control and ownership over her just because she worked with him. He even tried to buy her a hate that declared he owned her, which she threw in his face when she found out what it said. Finally, when she showed interest in another man he threatened to disfigure her so no man would ever find her attractive again. That’s all about control disguised as love.
In the cases of Gaslight and No Way To Treat A Lady, however, the women were treated as incidental. They were just a means for the creepy stalker man to achieve what he was after. They didn’t even care about them as they tried to drive them insane or strangled them. They treated the women almost as if they were inanimate objects. In a way they were more honest than the ones that wrap their behavior up in love. The ones that claim they’re doing it all in the name of love don’t treat their love objects any better than the ones using women to attain some goal. In every case the creepy stalker man doesn’t care what the thoughts and feelings the woman has; it’s all about what they want.
The creepy stalker men may actually be throwbacks to the days when men thought of women as chattel with no rights of their own. Women could be sold into marriage with no rights to refuse. All their possessions became the property of the man they married. The men could mistreat women in anyway they wanted, up and including killing them and it was considered their right because the woman was his property to do with as he pleased.
Thankfully, society has become more enlightened since then. However, the creepy stalker men of cinema are just examples of the real-life throwbacks that exist in society. Take the creepy stalker men as a cautionary tale of their real-life counterparts and any man who acts like the creepy stalker men in the movies are men you want to run not walk away from as fast as you can get. Remember, they may say they love you, but if they have no consideration for your wants, feelings and desires, they don’t really love you. What they really want is to control you and bend you to their will.