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Sunday
Jun 30 2013

Great Moments in Gayness: "Suspicion"

Team Experience is celebrating Gay Pride with their favorite moments in gay cinema history...Here'sDeborah Lipp(from the great TV site 'Basket of Kisses') with an unusual choice...

HappyGayPrideWeekendEveryone!

My favorite gay cinematic moment is not a gay movie,not a gay scene,not explicitly erotic,not much of anything.I love it for the electrifying presence of gayness in a movie from 1941.I am speaking about Alfred Hitchcock'sSuspicion.

I've almost never seen this movie mentioned when discussing gayness in movies,not even when discussing gayness inHitchcockmovies.People talk about homoeroticism inStrangers on a Trainor the mad lesbian love of Mrs.Danvers for Rebecca,butSuspicionis overlooked.

Johnnie (Cary Grant) and Lina (Joan Fontaine) visit Johnnie's friend Isobel,a writer of murder mysteries.Also attending dinner is Phyllis.Based on their familiarity and the way they serve dinner,it is obvious the two women live together.Moreover,while Isobel ("Izzy") dresses as a British lady should,Phyllis ("Phil"to her partner) is in a man's suit and tie,with a man's hairstyle

And this is what's so glorious.Phil and Izzy aren't dangerous.They're not villains.They're not the subject of a joke,nor exaggerated,nor horrifying.They simplyare.A butch/femme couple,in 1941,relaxing at home,entertaining a straight couple,chatting about books.Fifty years later,Basic Instinctinspired protest from the LGBT community,because it was still almost impossible to see gays and lesbians in a movie unless they were killers or crazy,suicidal or deranged or tragic or pornified,or—best case scenario—the wacky sexless neighbor.

Phil and Izzy are just an ordinary gay couple.They're not in the movie because they're gay,and their gayness is never mentioned.That they're butch/femme—probably the least-represented type of queer couple in the media—just adds to my pleasure.

I love Phil and Izzyso much.

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Reader Comments (10)

How about the two women in Auntie Mame,wearing menswear and fedoras?

June 30,2013 | Unregistered CommenterJSB

This reminds me of an early Maggie Smith role where she played Bette Davis's "nurse"in DEATH ON THE NILE.I've never seen a nurse in a suit and tie before.Again,never explicitly stated and they aren't the villains.Great post!

June 30,2013 | Unregistered CommenterAnne Marie

looove this movie..dont know why people dont talk enought about this one and rebecca,2 greats ones with joan foantaine and hitchcock

June 30,2013 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge

I've seen 'Suspicion' at least three times and I have literally never noticed this.I feel like you just pointed out that there's a killer whale in the shower in 'Psycho',or that Grace Kelly goes through 'Rear Window' wearing a red clown's nose.Now I'll have to watch 'Suspicion' again just for Phil and Izzy!

July 1,2013 | Unregistered CommenterLaika

@ Anne Marie - isn't that Rachel Roberts the 'nurse' and Wendy Hiller the countess?Maggie Smith is in the movie but is an over-the-top movie star (she and Diana Rigg have some ongoing feud?)

July 1,2013 | Unregistered CommenterKermit The Frog

@ Kermit The Frog

Anne Marie has it correct: Maggie Smith is indeed Bette Davis' nurse in Death on the Nile and they have some fun & bitchy (at the same time) interchange.Maggie is more memorable in that film.

July 1,2013 | Unregistered CommenterYavor

Kermit,Rachel and Wendy played maid and princess in Murder On the Orient Express,one of my faves.

July 1,2013 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

And,unfortunately,'Izzy' died the year that Suspicion was released.I've always thought it was such a shame.

August 6,2013 | Unregistered CommenterMieleoffski

While Cary and Joan are the stars,the lesbian couple are played by Auriol Lee (Izzy) and Nondas Metcalf (Phil).

October 29,2015 | Unregistered CommenterAJ

"A butch/femme couple,in 1941,relaxing at home,entertaining a straight couple,chatting about books."

Terrific observation there Deborah and so true what you say in this superbly penned capsule.Most film fans do only talk about the STRANGERS ON A TRAIN homo-eroticism and Mrs.Danver's obsession with the first Mrs.de Winter in REBECCA,too often over-looking this relationship in SUSPICION!!!

August 6,2019 | Unregistered CommenterSam Juliano

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