Video Rewind: Kicking off Pride
I had hoped to get this out in June but with weddings and Father's Day my VCR and DVD recorders have been working overtime. To start the month off I thought I'd start with Pride since it's celebrated for the entire month in some city some where.
The National Broadcasting Company (NBC) really was the first to delve into gay themed movies with Alexander: The Other Side of Dawn a sequel to the popular Dawn: Portrait of a Teenage Runaway which was shown in 1976 and starred Eve Plumb (Dawn) and Leigh McCloskey (Alexander). Both movies were sort of taboo subjects but the ratings soared for NBC.
Alexander picks up where Dawn left off. Well, sort of.
In the original movie there is a glimpse into Alexander's life as a male prostitute. The sequel shows us how Alexander was forced from his home and once in Hollywood meets Buddy (Asher Brauner) a willing to do anything hustler who starts to show Alexander the ropes and while hustling is quick cash, Alexander wants to go straight and soon meets closeted football hero Charles Selby (Alan Feinstein). Selby becomes attracted to Alexander and soon he has him move into his house as an "assistant."
Alexander is trying to save money for him and Dawn and he knows that once he has enough money saved he can have Dawn move back out to Hollywood where they can lead a normal life. Unfortunately, Alexander can't get a job due to his being underage and all he wants to be is a painter. (Not everyone turning tricks in Hollywood is an actor).
With bad luck hanging over his head he begins to get in trouble and since he won't "go all the way" with Selby he's quickly replaced by a new Flavor of the Month.
This is a hard movie to find however I was able to find a DVD of Alexander but the quality isn't the best.
What Alexander did for the small screen in 1977, the "first real big" gay themed feature opened in wide release on March 5, 1982. That movie, Making Love, starred Michael Ontkean, Kate Jackson and Harry Hamlin (with a brief appearance by Brauner). It also tackled the issue of breast cancer as a subplot for Ontkean's character.
Told from the points of view of Hamlin and Jackson, the movie could have been a lot better than it was. I think the movie going population at the time wasn't ready to accept two men kissing (which made the movie controversial during that time in film history) but audiences were subjected to male kissing in Looking for Mr. Goodbar a few short years prior to this release.
Anyway, Ontkean is Zack Elliott a successful young doctor who's deeply in love with wife Claire or is he? That is until he meets writer Bart McGuire and an affair slowly begins to blossom.
Prior to meeting Bart, Zack's curiosity starts to get the best of him and he's soon popping up during the day in gay bars. Whenever he's approached by someone he chickens out and after meeting Bart gathers enough courage to ask him out for dinner.
As Zack starts to fall in love with Bart (who tries not to fall in love with him) Claire begins to sense something is wrong with Zack emotionally and sexually. She wants to find out what's wrong but Zack brushes it off.
When she's sent to New York for a weekend meeting, Zack and Bart spend the time together and Zack tells Bart he'll come clean and tell Claire. After he does. He leaves her and asks to stay with Bart for a few days, but Bart doesn't go for it and he finds himself living in a motel.
With Bart out of the picture the film then focuses on Claire and her attempts at trying to save the flailing marriage. She's willing to give it a shot but Zack wants to break all ties and start life anew.
I have to admit when Claire does find out the truth she kind of becomes clingy and you just want to slap her and tell her to get on with her life. However, there is a poignant scene between Jackson and Brauner when she asks if he's happy. Brauner tells her for the most part he is with the exceptions of everyday living (i.e. bleeding when he cuts himself shaving, paying taxes, etc.).
But even before Making Love came out, there was Stella Cooke and Albert Walreavens (Meg Foster and Perry King) in 1978's A Different Story which makes no sense at all.
Both leads play gay characters and if you can get through the first 10 or 15 minutes then you have to continue watching this train wreck in the making.
Stella takes in a homeless Albert (who's hiding from immigration) and after staying over one night, Stella decides to keep him around if he wants to. Sure, free food and rent who wouldn't want to stay? Plus, Stella's a successful real estate agent in Los Angeles and we all know property out there in the '70's was a good investment.
Foster is absolutely irritating as Stella and King just can't play the gay card. His ambition is to be a designer and of course he can cook anything and sew.
Poor Stella has a problem of her own: the clingy Phyllis (Valerie Curtin). She's so obnoxious and emotionally unstable you'd be glad to give her the pills, knife or hold open the oven door for her, just so she can end it all.
Phyllis doesn't realize it, but Stella and Albert have secretly gotten married so that he can stay in the country and one day Albert actually gets a job for a design firm and soon becomes an assistant. This is when King plays the straight card.
The two decide to lead different lives but on his birthday they consummate their marriage and begin sleeping together. They even find out Stella's pregnant and the two begin to lead a very heterosexual life.
Talk about a shift in the movie's premise and a quick click to "off" on your remote.
If you really have a need to watch A Different Story take a couple of valiums because you'll surely need it, and don't be surprised if you find your head being gravitated towards your oven.