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Friday, February 17, 2006

Making Love - Before "Brokeback Mountain"

Harry Hamlin Starring: Harry Hamlin, Michael Ontkean
Director: Arthur Hiller
Fax: 1982, drama

Review by Brent Ko,

"Brokeback Mountain" has received international acclaim as a breakthrough for gay cinema, but it isn't the first movie about unfulfilled gay love to reach mainstream audiences.

Flashback to 1982 and Arthur Hiller's "Making Love".

Making Love
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Although it reached wide distribution "Making Love" was ahead of its time and failed to get the credit it was due. With the success of ":Brokeback Mountain" Fox has just issued a new DVD release of Love and it's well worth a look.

Starring Harry Hamlin ("LA Law") and Michael Ontkean ("North Shore"), "Making Love" is the story of a married Los Angeles doctor who meets and falls in love with an outgoing young novelist.

It was the first time two men locked lips in a major studio feature film. At the time it was shocking and the publicity surrounding the kiss kept many people away.

In many ways the story is a parallel of "Brokeback Mountain". Like Ang Lee, Hiller set out to tell a love story, one that just happened to be about two men.

"Making Love" is admirably acted, though a bit dated. Nevertheless, if you've seen "Brokeback Mountain" you need to see "Making Love" if no other reason than its historical significance - although a young Hamlin and Ontkean certainly have some nice scenes in bed together.

Making Love
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Even though "Making Love" was the first movie to explore gay love, the first actual gay kiss on screen dates back to 1930 when Marlene Dietrich in "Morocco" - her first American film - kissed another woman on the lips.

Greta Garbo did it in "Queen Christina" (1933).

The so-called morality hit Hollywood. In 1936 the Production Code forced director William Wyler to eliminate most of the references to lesbianism in "These Three" - his first adaptation of Lillian Hellman's play "The Children's Hour." But in 1961, "The Children's Hour," his second film based on the play, starring Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine, was more faithful to the original work.

In 1970 there was the sad "The Boys in the Band" William Friedkin's film version of the path-breaking off-Broadway play about a group of gay men in New York.

"A Very Natural Thing" (1974) is believed to be the first feature film directed and performed by gays in the United States to receive national distribution.

"Cruising" came along in 1980. This controversial film by Friedkin stared Al Pacino as an undercover New York police detective investigating serial killings of gay men.

After "Making Love" came out in 1982 it paved the way later that year for "Personal Best" in which Mariel Hemingway and Patrice Donnelly stared as two athletes training for the Olympics who become lovers.

In "Kiss of the Spider Woman" (1985) William Hurt won an Oscar for his portrayal of a gay man sharing a jail cell in Latin America with a political prisone.

In the 90s there were "Longtime Companion" (one of the first feature films to look at impact of AIDS on the gay community.) "The Crying Game", "Philadelphia". "The Birdcage" and "Boys Don't Cry".

In 2003: "Angels in America" hit TV screens. Adapted by Tony Kushner from his award-winning play about AIDS and politics in the 1980s it won 11 Emmy awards.


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