Monday, December 26, 2016

If you want a drink in Pottersville, you better be straight-acting, buddy

In A Wonderful Life, director Frank Capra went just about as far as 40s Hollywood censors would allow in explicitly depicting aggressive homophobia (directed toward wrongly-suspected heteros, of course). He associated it with the downward spiral of a community in the clutches of Big Money. Remind you of anything?
     Below, Drunk Jimmy Stewart admonishes his bud, "Clarence" (!) about making fairy-type references to wings "around here" but he didn't help his cause much by putting his arm around Clarence and asking him if he had anywhere to sleep, in front of an increasingly hostile and suspicious barkeep, who had alreadyreminded Clarence that "we don't need any characters around to give the joint atmosphere."

Capra reveled in the depiction of a broad pastiche of humanity in his pictures. (Nowdays America calls it diversity and includes black people.) Note the flamboyant, devil-may-care gay sailor in the bus scene of Capra's 30s smash, It Happened One Night at the 1:15 mark:

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