Starring – Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Richard Johnson, Russ Tamblyn
Directed by Robert Wise
“I’d rather be innocent than like you…The world is full of inconsistencies. Unnatural things. ‘Nature’s mistakes,’ they’re called. You, for instance.” –Julie Harris telling the lesbian in The Haunting to leave her the hell alone, proving once again that she was an acting goddess!
Oh boy. I so don’t do scary movies. Any movie that is about spooky stuff that goes “bump” in the night, I can just do without, thank you very much. I had a mother who was a spooky stuff that went “bump” in the night, and in the day too, for that matter, so I just never saw a reason to turn on my TV and then be exposed to horrors through my entertainment choices when I could just live them in my real life. Well, except when the scary movie is directed by Alfred Hitchcock or that one time when I was 13 and my friend Jeff talked me into seeing Alien, and the rest is history, as in, I only watch the scary as hell Alien movies because that might mean that I might get to see Sigourney Weaver and I never turn down an opportunity to see her. So, unless Alfred Hitchcock is directing it or Sigourney is in it, I ain’t watching no scary movies. So why in the hell am I watching this scary movie?!! Because I heard there was a lesbian in it, that’s why. 😉
But The Haunting being a movie that came out in the homosexual dark ages of 1963 there is only so much lesbian about the lesbian that we, the audience, get a chance to see. In other words, welcome to the world of subtext! Thanks to the film censor code at that time, we of the LGBT tribe were not allowed to be openly a part of the film world. We had to hide and sneak ourselves into films and usually so subtly that only members of our own tribe would ever notice, in other words the straight (and I bet there were some not so straight) people who ran the film censor code got to decide how much gay could be in a movie and the answer for how much gay could be in a movie was always – none.
Now, which one of us is the lesbian again?
That damn film censor code sure does make spotting the lesbian awfully tricky sometimes. Whenever I watch a movie from the censor code era, I’m always looking for the lesbian because you never know when one might subtly pop up.
So, how do you make a film where there are really only 4 main characters that spend basically the entire movie in a haunted house trying to track down the supernatural AND hide in plain sight the fact that one of them is a big ole dyke? You do it subtly, right in the audiences’ faces, that’s how. In other words, Claire Bloom, who brilliantly played the lesbian character, Theo, had to subtly flirt like the dickens with Julie Harris’ character, Eleanor, but at the same time make sure that the audience and film censor board didn’t notice she was a lesbian. (And how do you get one of these jobs where you get to flirt with pretty ladies for a living?) So, how does one subtly flirt like the dickens without pissing off the film censor board and having all those scenes cut from the film? Well, Theo does this flirting like the dickens with master subtly by doing A LOT of “friendly” touching of Eleanor and finding lots of excuses for Eleanor to “friendly” touch her and always telling Eleanor how they can be “like sisters” and taking Eleanor to her room ALL THE TIME! (And seriously, how do you get a job like this?)
And so Theo and her flirting of Eleanor goes pretty much like this –
Oh no, Eleanor, are you scared? Well, don’t you worry because Theo is here to put her arm around you and tell you, “Why don’t I take you to your room?”
Oh poor Eleanor, are you scared again? Well, don’t you worry because Theo is here again and now we can share a room together. And isn’t it convenient that the room we are sharing has two beds that are pushed together? So now I will take you to OUR room by putting my arm around you and guiding you to OUR room because you know, you’re just too scared to be able to walk without me touching you.
Oh no, Eleanor, now I’m scared! Oh hold me, Eleanor! Hold me!
Oh fuck! Eleanor, you like the hot guy! Well, Eleanor, now I’m going to be a bitch to you! But oh no, Eleanor, you got scared again, I think it’s time for a visit to OUR room again where I will guide you there by putting BOTH of my arms around you. We can’t have you getting lost, now can we?
Oh no, Eleanor! I’m getting scared again! Hold me, Eleanor! Hold me!!!!
Hey, Eleanor, I live with someone, but, I’m not…you know…married, so you know, wink, wink, nudge, nudge, you get it? I’m a dyke, so you wanna get it on in OUR room before the ghosts come and get us all. Here, have another drink while you think on it. 😉
And on and on it goes during The Haunting, Theo flirting like hell in plain sight, but only if you have your eyes open, which I wasn’t doing a lot of because I was too busy being scared out of my wits (do I still even have wits?), so it was a little hard to spot the subtle lesbian when I was too busy going, “Is this scene going to have scary bits?” But the scary bits became worth it because after a while it was fun as hell watching Theo trying to seduce Eleanor by doing things like always finding excuses to put her arms around Eleanor and guide her to her room and then their room and then basically anywhere in the haunted house that Eleanor needed to go, there was Theo putting her arms around sexy Eleanor and guiding her to wherever Eleanor needed to go. Except, Theo wasn’t doing any Eleanor-guiding to the hot scientist’s room. No way, Jose, you bitch! Because when Theo wasn’t guiding Eleanor to her room and eventually their room with lots of touching, she was bitching Eleanor out for liking the sexy scientist. Poor Theo, she just wanted some loving while she was being scared out of her wits.
Eleanor and Theo, a match made in haunted house hell.
And if you’re going to be scared out of your wits, you might as well do it in style.
This was the 1960s, after all, and people still had style when it came to dressing up back then.
Don’t you just love Theo’s animal print coat?!
I have realized lately that I love ladies in animal print coats or shirts or whatever animal print they want to wear, I am in agreement with it.
Which could explain my love for all things Snooki and JWow.
Those are two ladies that love the animal print. 😉
And I admit it, if this film hadn’t been recommended to me by a friend, who, unlike me, LOVES scary movies, and especially, lesbians in scary movies, I’m not sure how long it would have taken me to spot the lesbian (even with my eyes open) because that is how subtle this lesbian in The Haunting had to be in a very repressed and scary world of 1963. Theo had to be so far in the closet that even this lesbian watching a lesbian in a movie had to go, “Now which one is the lesbian,” because I couldn’t figure out at first if it was Eleanor or Theo because of the subtly of subtext, it really could have been either one, which is what makes spotting the LGBT character during the film censor code era a tricky bugger sometimes. So much so that I was driving myself mad looking for lesbian clues with both Theo and Eleanor that I had to finally send my friend a text while I was watching the movie to ask her, “Speaking of dykes, which character is one in The Haunting?” Yes, sometimes we text about dykes. This particular dyke we were texting about was Queen Christina and how my mother-in-law decided she was Queen Christina’s reincarnation because they both have the same birthday. We have some interesting texting conversations. Probably because we know a lot of crazy people.
So, anyway, what I have figured out here is, spotting the lesbian during the film censor code era can be tricky, but it can sometimes be so worth it since I got to watch the amazingly brilliant subtle/in-your-face performance of Claire Bloom, and that was most definitely worth it for all those scary moments. And, that I will watch a scary movie, but only if it has Sigourney Weaver in it or a lesbian. Now, if only they would make a scary movie with Sigourney Weaver playing a lesbian, my life would be complete. It would be pretty much complete if she played a lesbian in any kind of movie or TV show. Or, if I’m being honest, just for fun in her real life with me, but you know you can’t have everything, now can you? 😉
Relief Fact (as in I was SO relieved when I found this out even though at the end of the day this fact sucks!): There was a 1999 remake of The Haunting, but even though it was made 36 years later without a film censor code breathing down their backs, this film version was too scared of homophobes and so completely cut out the lesbian bits of Theo. I was actually relieved to hear this because then I might have had to watch that version as well, and the 1963 version was scary enough, so thank you Linda for letting me know that I didn’t have to watch TWO scary movies for this review! Whew!!! 🙂