Look, I know it was the '50s, and homosexuality was considered aberrant behavior, but this movie does play it really safe by not stepping on that subject too hard. Edward Dmytryk even claims that the homosexual references were not intentional, but in that case, one must ask, why were they in there? It's not just the deep and jealous friendship between the two men that implies their homosexuality, but many other details: when Blaisedell and Morgan first move into their new apartment in Warlock, Morgan talks of how he wants to pretty the place up. "I'll soon have it looking nice and homey for you," or words to that effect. Seems to me a clear '50s euphemism for an "effeminate" man.
Later on Blaisedell (played by Henry Fonda) says to Jessie Marlow (who, by the way, is courting him in a rather aggressive– and possibly masculine way), that he may not be able to have a relationship with her, and that he might be better suited to his Colts. (As opposed to his Fillies— I thought it right to infer.) There was also a subtle masturbation implication, when she finds him practicing shooting his gun in the middle of nowhere, that she's caught him polishing his own Colt.
In another scene he says something similar about being more suited to a relationship with Morgan than with her. It seemed like a straight comparison of relationships to me. Okay, we may not be talking strict homosexuality here, but certainly bi-sexuality must be a consideration.
Likewise, in a scene between Morgan (Anthony Quinn) and Lily Dollar (Dorothy Malone) in which he threatens her, and orders her to leave Blaisedell alone, the expositionary dialog that ensues seems to be much less about jealousy regarding a romantic relationship between Morgan and Lily, and more like it's about a power relationship; expressly that of a pimp to his whore. Let's face it, even her name, Dollar, let's you know what she's in it for. He clearly used to be her evil gay pimp, and when she jumped ship on him to marry some guy, he manipulated his boyfriend into killing that guy in order to slap her back into line.
To be fair, I have not the read the original book by Oakley Hall, but I'm on the lookout for it now. It just begs the question that if Dmytryk didn't want those inferences to be taken, why would he include them? Isn't it more likely that he did want to imply what we think he is implying, but couldn't admit it in such a sexually repressed era as the '50s was. He may even have been forced to play up the romance angle between Blaisedell and Jessie in order to appease his Hollywood overlords, and a sexually inhibited American post war society. It just seems like the movie is sending double messages by trying to simplify the painful complexity of the situation — Hollywood, I guess!
Of course another possibility is that Dmytryk didn't even understand the implications from the book, and included certain details from it, not realizing how they might be taken, or what they were referring to. I don't know, as I admit I have not yet checked the book. But I cannot imagine that he would be so naive as to miss obvious plot and motivational subtexts such as the sexual orientation of his characters.
Either way, we have a film in which the justifications for character actions are muddy and unresolved. Just like real life— you might say. But I would respond— more like a bad movie script.
However, despite that fact, I still rather enjoyed the movie.
Action / Romance / Western
Action / Romance / Western
In the small frontier mining town of Warlock, rancher Abe McQuown's gang of cowboy cutthroats terrorize the peaceful community, humiliating the town's legitimate deputy Sheriff and running him out of town. Helpless and in need of protection, the townsfolk hire the renowned town tamer Clay Blaisdell, as unofficial Marshal, to bring law and order to the town. Clay arrives with his good friend and backup Tom Morgan. The two men stand up to the ranch gang and quiet the town. Johnny Gannon, a former member of the ranch gang is bothered by the gang's actions, reforms and takes on the deputy Sherrif job while his brother remains part of the gang. The addition of the official lawman to the mix further complicate matters, leading to an inevitable clash of the cowboys, the townsfolk, the gunslingers and the law.
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June 26, 2014 at 11:15 PM