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A plea for reform of England's anti-sodomy statutes, this film pits Melville Farr, a married lawyer, against a blackmailer who has photos of Farr and a young gay man (who is being blackmailed and later commits suicide) in Farr's car. After the suicide, Farr tracks down other gay men being extorted for money by the same blackmailer. The well-educated police Detective Inspector Harris considers the sodomy law nothing more than an aid to blackmailers, and helps Farr in calling his blackmailer's bluff. The movie, far ahead of its time, ends with Farr and his wife coming to terms with his homosexuality after the public exposure he faces in the blackmailer's trial. Written by
Mike Mills <email@example.com>
1961 in England. Homosexuals were routinely jailed just because they were homosexuals. It was still the love that dare not speak its name.
Blackmailers had a terrific open season on gays - extorting funds for silence. It is incredible that this movie was made - on two levels. One being the obvious, who would want to star in such a controversial film?
Enter one Dirk Bogarde, putting both his reputation and his career on the line. He moved deliberately beyond his "Doctor in the House" series of light romantic leading men to make this benchmark film.
It may seem dated today to some eyes, but it captures an authentic London of 1961 and is filmed on location in the streets for most of it. One can see the barriers, goofophiles, holding the passersby back from the location shooting! "Flower Drum Song" is featured on a marquee in one of the scenes.
The suspense is carried along beautifully, you are never sure how it is all going to turn out, there are no easy solutions, there are some wonderful sub-plots, unexpected little surprises, like the childhood friend of a victim staunchly loyal against his wife's homophobic wishes.
The husband and wife story is beautifully depicted and completely non-formulaic. I love the rush and buzz of London surrounding the taut, tense story. Groundbreaking film. 8 out 10.
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