(*homocinematically inclined)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Out of the Celluloid Closet: Tea and Sympathy

His schoolmates catch him sewing. His father bemoans that he wants to be a folk singer. He reads! No doubt about it, there is something a little queer about Tom Robinson Lee.

Tom is the outcast protagonist of Tea and Sympathy, a fascinating peek into the celluloid closet of the 1950's. Deborah Kerr is the kindly wife of the school's headmaster (Leif Erickson) who takes a special interest in the troubled youth (John Kerr, no relation) in Vincente Minnelli's film adaptation of Robert Anderson's Broadway drama (all three actors reprise their stage roles; the younger Kerr won a Tony Award for his performance).

While Tom is the focus of all the sexual questioning in the film (he is proven heterosexual by Deborah's character in the classic "Years from now, when you talk about this -- and you will -- be kind." scene), keep an eye on Tom's jock roommate (who defends him) and Erickson's headmaster (he neglects his wife and spends all his time "with the boys") for even more coded gay content.

Tea and Sympathy, which is not yet available on DVD, airs tomorrow on Turner Classic Movies at 1:45 PM EST.

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