I’ve recently finished two Hitchcock films starring Farley Granger, thanks to YouTube and a couple of kind souls.
I won’t bother praising Strangers on a Train – I’ve seen Psycho and Birds and Vertigo; this by far is my favorite. Robert Walker was amazing; I thoroughly enjoyed that first scene on the train (I beg your pardon, but aren’t you Guy Haines? – very strong homoerotic undercurrents in this scene) and that scene with his character’s mother. It’s father, isn’t it? (Laughter) It’s him.
(Photo from Film Reference.com)
Speaking of homoerotic undercurrents, Hitchcock had an interesting problem with Rope. The play it was based on (written by Patrick Hamilton) was explicit in stating that the two lead characters – Phillip and Brandon – and their schoolteacher, Rupert, are homosexuals. In order to get past the censors, “Hitchcock faced the constraint of presenting the three major protagonists as homosexual without ever stating such explicitly (Bouzereau 2001).”
(Photo from thisdistractedglobe)
Seriously, though, five minutes into the film I already had a hard time understanding how it did manage to get past the censors. (Later on the viewer will realize that there is only one bedroom in the apartment where Phillip and Brandon are staying, e.g. when Janet asks where the telephone is, Brandon says “It’s in the bedroom” — indicating there is only one bedroom — and she responds “How cozy!”) But hey, hooray.
As Hitchcock was filming for the first time in Technicolor, the film crew had to wield gigantic cameras which both set and actors had to accommodate. This was further exacerbated by the fact that Rope was to be performed in real time and, in order to maintain the suspense, Hitchcock insisted the film be shot in long takes that would often near the maximum possible (10 min) length for colour film cartridges at that time. This meant that – in order to accommodate the cameras – the entire set had to be mobile with walls, chairs and tables being continually moved during filming. A task made even harder by the fact that this was performed so quietly a direct sound-track could be filmed (Truffaut 1983).
This is what I find fascinating – despite this display of ingenuity, Hitchcock would later tell French director Truffaut that the film was “a stunt… I really don’t know how I came to indulge in it.”
I disagree. It is genius.
Except for the fact that James Stewart was miscast (Cary Grant, the first choice, who turned down the role because he didn’t want to be perceived as gay – I know, pfft – would have been better; but who cares what I think, I’m saying this 60 years after the fact), and I was bored by Rupert’s speech in the end.
In any case, genius. And John Dall was perfect.
As for Farley. Well, Farley. He’s quite a character. I like the guy.
LOS ANGELES – In Farley Granger’s newly published memoir “Include Me Out,” the former screen idol makes a revelation that is unusual among Hollywood tell-all books: He was bisexual.
Granger describes a Honolulu night that epitomized his life. A 21-year-old virgin and wartime Navy recruit, he was determined to change his status. He did so with a young and lovely prostitute. He was about to leave the premises when he encountered a handsome Navy officer. Granger was soon in bed again.
“I lost my virginity twice in one night,” he writes.
It appears that he also dated Arthur Laurents, who, if I’m not mistaken, wrote the film adaptation of Rope.
Old (gay) Hollywood. I love it so.