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Mick Curtis (Mick)
Username: Mick

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.177.118.49
Posted on Friday, July 31, 2009 - 03:49 pm:   

I saw this for the first time last night. It suffered from a bit of "stiff-upper-lip-Englishness", but had some great performances - Bogarde and Sylvia Syms were very good indeed, I thought. I can't begin to imagine how this film must have stirred up the media in '61; supposedly it helped pave the way for the change in the law regarding homosexuality. If true, that's quite amazing; I can't think off hand of any other film with a similar claim to helping change laws.
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Mick Curtis (Mick)
Username: Mick

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.177.118.49
Posted on Friday, July 31, 2009 - 03:51 pm:   

...and also it's reckoned to be the first English language film to use the word homosexual.
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Stephen Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.72.14.113
Posted on Friday, July 31, 2009 - 04:59 pm:   

Another one of those brilliant B&W matinee movies I caught, quite by chance, a couple of years ago that blew me away at the time. A homosexual man treated as a real human being at a time when such things were still very much frowned upon - hence the reason the "stii-upper-lip-Englishness" is a quality the film didn't, for me, suffer from but that made it all the more insightful - like a time machine back to the mores of a less enlightened time.

See what I mean about daytime nuggets of gold...

Another film from the same period, and telling a similar story, I caught on daytime TV that has haunted me ever since is 'The Children's Hour' with Audrey Hepburn, Shirley MacLaine & James Garner.
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Simon Bestwick (Simon_b)
Username: Simon_b

Registered: 10-2008
Posted From: 86.24.165.182
Posted on Friday, July 31, 2009 - 06:29 pm:   

Victim is a truly brilliant film. I caught it for the first time a couple of years ago. It's sufficiently of its time that its frankness is jaw-dropping- you get a very strong sense of the shock it must have caused at the time. Superb writing, brilliant performances- Bogarde and Syms especially, but the young psychopath running the blackmail ring stands out as well- a truly frightening creation.
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Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 78.21.234.133
Posted on Saturday, August 01, 2009 - 12:20 pm:   

Don't forget The Leather Boys by Sidney Furie (1963).
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Ramsey Campbell (Ramsey)
Username: Ramsey

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 195.93.21.74
Posted on Saturday, August 01, 2009 - 01:13 pm:   

It's a long time since I saw Victim - well, the early sixties, in fact. My memory suggests its main merit was Bogarde, coming out at last (though it could be argued he did so more flamboyantly in The Singer not the Song). Admittedly the film uses the world homosexual, but I'd say various films that preceded it - Rope, The Big Combo, Strangers on a Train, North by Northwest - had presented gayness unambiguously but with far less fuss.
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Stephen Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 82.4.20.22
Posted on Saturday, August 01, 2009 - 02:12 pm:   

Agreed Ramsey, but had any earlier film presented a homosexual as in every other respect a normal family man whom the audience is made to side with because of his singling out for blackmail. A situation he is forced into because of seciety's then condemnation of his sexuality?
Weren't gay men (and women) always portrayed before that as mentally aberrant individuals and often complete psychopaths.
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Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 91.110.179.103
Posted on Saturday, August 01, 2009 - 02:29 pm:   

The point about VICTIM and I heartily concur with the enthusiastic comments above is that it tackled the unjust law and the mentality around it head on. It may have been possible to introduce a homosexual character in a film, but I'm not aware of any previous film that directly addressed the injustice of the law. Everything about the film the title, the shocking early suicide, the warped blackmailers, even the bitter dialogue between Farr and his wife is polemical in intention. As such it's a landmark in gay cinema: the first politically engaged gay film. Though of course it's not exactly that, since its perspective is that of society in general which, in itself, was crucial.

Homosexual characters crop up quite a bit in film noir you could add THE MALTESE FALCON to Ramsey's list above but the criminal ambience made such elements easier for the audience to take on board. These are low-lifes already, so it's not surprising, seems to have been the prevailing view. But Farr is not a criminal (except in a de facto sense highlighted by VICTIM): he's a barrister. The message could not have been clearer.
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Stephen Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 82.4.20.22
Posted on Saturday, August 01, 2009 - 02:49 pm:   

What I consider great about 'Victim' is not only that it was a film made with a direct political agenda to highlight an unjust law but also that it does so in such an entertaining and suspenseful way.
I mean you really feel for Bogarde's character and his desperate attempts to keep his wife from 'scandal'. It is such a great thriller, in and of itself, that what he is actually being blackmailed over almost becomes incidental to enjoying the story. Now that's the way to make a polemic!
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Simon Bestwick (Simon_b)
Username: Simon_b

Registered: 10-2008
Posted From: 86.24.165.182
Posted on Saturday, August 01, 2009 - 03:07 pm:   

Exactly! There are a couple of scenes in 'Victim' that feel 'message-heavy', but mostly they fit right in with the action of the film. Compelling. Incidentally, one line that was cut from the TV version I first saw (but kept in the DVD) is where the female blackmailer at the end rants about the police being 'riddled with queers'. Funny how that line's still censored today.
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Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 78.21.234.133
Posted on Saturday, August 01, 2009 - 03:16 pm:   

Too much truth in it?

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