Victim (1961) Film Review B+


Denied distribution due to its frank treatment of homosexuality and released without a seal of approval.

Years later, it received a PG/13 rating from the MPAA

DIRECTOR: Basil Dearden
BOTTOM LINE: This film did more to sway public and political opinion on homosexuality in England than any parliamentary discussion. Six years later, in 1967, homosexuality was decriminalized in Great Britain. Although “Victim” seems tame from today’s standpoint, it still packs an emotional punch. Dirk Bogarde plays a successful, happily married (to Sylvia Syms) lawyer who is being blackmailed because of a gay affair in his past with Boy Barrett (Peter McEnery). I first saw this film in my early teens. It was on Irish television, and I remember my mom saying how brave Dirk Bogarde was to play a gay character since he was a known gay actor (you cannot say an OUT gay actor since this was not possible in 1961). She was right.
Openly gay Irish actor Hilton Edwards (born in London but immigrated to Ireland in his early twenties) has a small but very memorable scene as a blind patron of a gay bar whom his younger-sighted friend feeds all the gossip. He could be the blackmailer! Edwards and his life partner Micheál Mac Liammóire (né Alfred Wilmore, also in London) founded Dublin’s Gate Theatre, which nurtured such talents as Orson Welles, Geraldine Fitzgerald, and James Mason. When I was growing up, they were Ireland’s “only” homosexual couple. Although fêted by all, their union was always illegal – both actors being long dead before homosexuality was finally decriminalized in Ireland in 1993

STREAMING: Amazon Prime Video

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