Staircase

(1969)

Genres: Comedy, Drama

Classics from the Vault: Changing Attitudes toward Homosexuality (1982)

Transcript for Classics from the Vault: Changing Attitudes toward Homosexuality (1982)

Ignatiy Vishnevetsky: 
HELLO AND WELCOME TO A SPECIAL EDITION OF EBERT PRESENTS AT THE MOVIES, I'M IGNATIY VISHNEVETSKY OF MUBI.COM.

Christy Lemire:
AND I'M CHRISTY LEMIRE OF THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. WE’RE TAKING A LOOK AT SOME LANDMARK SHOWS FROM OUR VAULT. THIS WEEK WE ARE GOING BACK TO 1982, SISKEL AND EBERT LOOKED AT CHANGING ATTITUDES TOWARDS HOMOSEXUALITY.
 
>> MISS CASSIDY, EXCLUDING VICTOR'S PERFORMANCE MINGLING WITH YOU MAY BE THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE EVENING.
>> A GENTLEMAN.
>> OH, GOD, HOW I MISS THESE CONVERSATIONS.
NEXT TO SEX, DISHING WITH THE GIRLS IS THE BEST THING I KNOW.
>> I HAVE GOTTEN INTO A LOT OF DIFFERENT SCENES.
I'M A WRITER.
I HAVE TO OPEN MYSELF UP TO NEW THINGS.
WHY DON'T YOU JUST SAY IT?
>> I'M GAY.
 
Roger Ebert: 
THAT'S SOMETHING YOU NEVER USED TO HEAR IN THE MOVIES UNTIL RECENTLY, HOLLYWOOD MOVIES DIDN'T DARE PORTRAY OPENLY GAY CHARACTERS. IN THE LAST FEW YEARS AND ESPECIALLY THE LAST FEW MONTHS, THERE'S BEEN A BOOM OF PEOPLE WHO ARE GAY AND THAT'S THE SUBJECT OF THIS SPECIAL EDITION OF SNEAK PREVIEWS ACROSS THE AISLE FROM ME IS GENE SISKEL OF THE "CHICAGO TRIBUNE."
 
Gene Siskel: 
AND THIS IS ROGER EBERT OF THE "CHICAGO SUNTIMES." THE TREATMENT OF HOMOSEXUALS IS PATHETIC. GAY CHARACTERS EITHER WOUND UP UNHAPPY SOULS WHO COMMITTED SUICIDE OR WERE MURDERED BECAUSE OF THEIR SEXUAL PREFERENCES. THE MESSAGE WAS GAY PEOPLE EITHER KILL THEMSELVES OR WILL BE KILLED AND THAT'S NOT JUST A CATCH PHRASE.
BETWEEN 1962 AND 1978, ACCORDING TO RESEARCH BY FILM SCHOLAR VITO RUSSO IN HIS FAMOUS BOOK, "THE CELLULOID CLOSE," THERE WERE 28 FILMS THAT DEALT WITH GAY SUBJECTS AND OUT OF THOSE 28 FILMS, IN NO LESS THAN 22 OF THEM, THE GAY CHARACTERS EITHER KILL THEMSELVES OR WERE MURDERED BY POISON, DROWNING, HANGING OR ELECTROCUTION, THAT DOESN'T INCLUDE "SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER" WHERE IT WAS CANNIBALISM. IN ADDITION TO THE VIOLENT DEATH, THE GAY CHARACTERS IN MOVIES WERE TURNED INTO STEREOTYPES WITH EFFECTED MANNERISMS. THEY EITHER IGNORED THEM, KILLED THEM OFF OR TURNED THEM INTO PRANCING STEREOTYPES.
 
Roger Ebert: 
1969 AND 1970, THERE WERE TWO IMPORTANT WATER SHED FILMS THAT PRESENTED CHARACTERS, "STAIRCASE," AS LIMP WRISTED GAY LOVERS AND THEY ARE IN A SUNDAY OUTING WHERE A QUARREL ERUPTS.

>> FOR ONCE I CRAVE A BRIGHT STACCATO REMARK, INSTEAD OF AN AMEN.
>> I SAID I WOULD TRY.
>> ALL OF THIS VENGEANCE, PURE AND SIMPLE.
YOU WON'T BE HELPED AND YOU WON'T BE TOLD.
>> IT'S YOU WE ARE DESCRIBING.
EVER SEEN YOURSELF, HAVE YOU?
LOOK AT YOUR HIPS.
YOU HAVE SEEN YOUR HIPS?
FAR TOO WIDE FOR A MAN.
A REAL MAN HAS BROAD WITHERS.
 
Roger Ebert: 
HE'S WEARING A BANDAGE UNDER HIS HELMET BECAUSE HE'S TRYING TO GROW KNEW HEAD ON HIS BALD HEAD. I WONDER IF THEY WOULD HAVE DARED TO DO THIS WITHOUT CASTING TWO MACHO MEN IN THE ROLES.
I THINK YOU NOTICE A SUDDEN HIDDEN MESSAGE. BURTON AND HARRISON HAVE A SELF-MOCKING EDGE, TO PROVE THAT THEIR CHARACTERS MAY BE GAY BUT THEY THEMSELVES ARE CERTAINLY NOT GAY.
 
THAT WAS THE REAL JOKE IN THE MOVIE VERSION OF "STAIRCASE."
I THINK IT RUINED THE FILM AND ANOTHER MOVIE "THE BOYS IN THE BAND" PORTRAYED HOMOSEXUALS AS CHARACTERS WHO HAD MORE THAN ONE HUMAN DIMENSION. ALL THE PRINCIPAL CHARACTERS WERE GAY.
THEY USED A BIRTHDAY PARTY TO EXPLORE SEVERAL DIFFERENT HOMOSEXUAL LIFESTYLES.
 
>> THIS OLD COLLEGE FRIEND OF MINE IS ON HIS WAY OVER HERE FOR A QUICK DRINK TO DINNER SOME PLACE.
HE'S STRAIGHT.
>> STRAIGHT?
IF HE'S THE ONE I MET, HE'S ABOUT AS STRAIGHT AS THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD.
>> I DON'T REMEMBER MEETING ANYONE NAMED JUSTIN STEWART.
>> YOU DON'T, I MET HIM.
>> HE'S A VERY CLOSE TOTAL STRANGER.
>> IT'S NOT THAT I CARE WHAT HE WOULD THINK OF ME.
HE'S NOT READY FOR IT AND HE NEVER WILL BE.
YOU UNDERSTAND THAT, DON'T YOU, HANK?
>> YEAH, SURE.
>> YOU DON'T THINK HE KNOWS ABOUT YOU?
>> HE HASN'T LET ON ONE BIT.
>> WHAT ABOUT ALL OF THOSE WEEKENDS UP FROM SCHOOL.
>> WELL, I STILL WASN'T OUT.
I WAS STILL IN THE CRISIS THAT I DRUNK LAST NIGHT SYNDROME.
MAN, WAS I DRUNK LAST NIGHT.
 
Roger Ebert: 
THE BOYS IN THE BAND IN 1970. I THINK IT MADE MY LIST OF THE BEST FILMS OF 1970. IF "STAIRCASE" WAS FLAWED BY THE ACTORS MAKING FUN OF THEIR ROLES THIS ONE WAS GOOD AND EMOTIONALLY EFFECTIVE BUT THE PLOT MECHANISM WAS SO CREEKY AND IT SEEMED TO COME OUT OF A WORLD WAR II MOVIE, WHERE YOU HAVE THE ITALIANAMERICAN, THE INDIAN, THE FARM BOY AND THE GUY FROM THE BRONX AND THE GUYS HAD ONE OF EVERYONE TOO. THE CHARACTERS WERE PREDICTABLE PERSONALITIES AND PREDICTABLE PROBLEMS.
IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN BETTER IF IT ALLOWED THE CHARACTERS TO DEVELOP SPONTANEOUSLY LIKE PEOPLE INSTEAD OF CASE STUDIES.
 
Gene Siskel: 
A FILM THAT IS FIRST OF ITS KIND AND THIS WAS CERTAINLY THE CASE BASED ON THE PLAY. I THINK IT DESERVES A LOT OF CREDIT AND I DON'T LIKE THE REVISIONIST THEORY THAT SAYS, WELL, NOW WE ARE SMARTER AND THEREFORE WE HAVE TO DUMP ON THIS THING. IT WAS GREAT THEN AND 
 
Roger Ebert: 
YES, I THINK WE CAN GO BACK AND SEE WHAT THEY WERE DOING. I THINK THEY WERE VERY UNCERTAIN AS TO HOW GENERAL AUDIENCES AND THIS WAS INTENDED AS A GENERAL PICTURE WOULD RELATE TO THE FACT THAT EVERYBODY ON THE SCREEN WAS A HOMOSEXUAL MAN. I THINK THEY SAID WE CAN BORROW FROM OLD CONVENTIONS AND GENRES WE CAN SELL IT EVEN TO THE AUDIENCE THAT WE PRIVATELY THINK WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND THIS PICTURE.
 
Gene Siskel: 
IT WAS BASED ON A PLAY WRITTEN A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO. I THINK YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT ON "STAIRCASE" IT'S VERY INTERESTING. THESE ACTORS HARRISON AND BURTON WANTED TO SHOW THAT THEY WERE MANLY AND IT INTERFERES, YOU ARE RIGHT, WITH THE CHARACTERS AND IN THIS BOOK, "CELLULOID CLOSET." NO ACTOR HAS EVER COME FORWARD AND PUBLICLY STATED THAT HE'S A HOMOSEXUAL. THEY ARE SO UPTIGHT THAT IT EXTENDS TO THE ACTORS TALKING ABOUT THEIR OWN LIVES. WE ARE DEALING WITH CRUEL PARODIES HERE.
LATELY THERE'S BEEN A RENEWED INTEREST IN GAY FILMS OR FILMS ABOUT GAYS. A KEY FILM WAS A 1980 MURDER MYSTERY CALLED "CRUISING" IT CALLED A FIRE FORM, EVEN BEFORE FILMING WAS COMPLETED. GAY ACTIVISTS PROTESTED THE CRUEL STEREOTYPING OF THE GAY COMMUNITY BECAUSE IT "CRUISING" FOCUSED EXCLUSIVELY ON ONE SEGMENT OF THE GAY WORLD, THE TOUGH LEATHER BARS AS THE SITE OF GRUESOME MURDERS, AND AL PACINO IS TO ACT AS BAIT FOR THE MURDERER. HE GOES TO THE LEATHER BAR UNDER COVER.

>> THE GUY BY THE PINBALL MACHINE.
THE GUY WITH THE EAGLE ON HIS JACKET.
>> OH, YEAH, HIS NAME IS SKIP LEE.
HE'S A BAD DUDE.
THE OTHER NIGHT HE GOT STONED OUT AND CAME ON TO A GUY.
THE GUY GAVE HIM THE SWERVE AND WENT FOR HIS THROAT.
LEAVE HIM ALONE.
HE'S A SCUM BAG.
>> HEY, BABY, WHAT'S HAPPENING?
>> I'M WITH SOMEONE.
>> AREN'T WE ALL?
WANT TO DANCE?
 
 
Gene Siskel: 
"CRUISING" BOMBED BADLY AT THE BOX OFFICE, PARTLY BECAUSE OF THE GAY PROTEST WHILE IT WAS BEING FILMED AND THE PROTEST SERVED NOTICE THAT THE GAY WORLD WAS ORGANIZED NOW AND POWERFUL, AND CONCEIVABLY COULD SUPPORT A MOVIE THAT SHOWED GAY CHARACTERS IN A FAVORABLE, IF NOT REALISTIC LIGHT AND KILL A MOVIE THAT PORTRAYED THEM UNFAVORABLY. A LOT OF POWER. SUCH A FILM DID COME ABOUT IN THE FALL OF 1981. A WEST GERMAN FILM, TAXI ZUM KLO. "TAXI TO THE TOILET" THAT PORTRAYED GUY LIFE IN A MORE SEXUALLY EXPLICIT WAY THAN EVER BEFORE IN A MAIN STREAM MOVIE. IT WAS THE STORY OF A GAY TEACHER WHO WAS HAVING TROUBLE REMAINING FAITHFUL TO THE ONE PERSON WHO TRULY LOVED HIM.

>> WHERE IS THE PROFESSOR?
 
Gene Siskel: 
IT WAS A FAVORABLE, MATTER OF FACT PORTRAYAL THAT WAS WELL RECEIVED BY CRITICS AND BY THE GENERAL AUDIENCES THAT TOOK A CHANCE ON IT. "CRUISING," HOWEVER, WAS AN UNFAVORABLE PORTRAYAL AND IT WAS REJECTED. ANOTHER KEY FILM IN THE DEVELOP IN THE CURRENT INTEREST OF GAY FILMS WAS A FRENCH COMIC FARCE ABOUT TWO GAY MEN, ONE A FEMININE TYPE AND ONE MORE MASCULINE. AND THE MORE MASCULINE MAN TRIED TO TEACH HIS EFFEMINATE PARTNER TO WALK LIKE JOHN WAYNE. THEY ARE TRYING TO PASS AS STRAIGHT.
 
Gene Siskel: 
FABULOUS. THIS WAS A HUGE HIT, THE BEST SELLING FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM EVER RELEASED IN THIS COUNTRY AND ITS SUCCESS, TOGETHER WITH THE FAILURE OF "CRUISING" HAD A PROFOUND EFFECT ON THE MOVIES WE ARE SEEING A YEAR OR TWO LATER.
 
Roger Ebert: 
YOU SAID THAT THE GAY PROTEST AGAINST "CRUISING" LED TO ITS COLLAPSE AT THE BOX OFFICE AND THAT IT INDICATED THAT THE GAY COMMUNITY WAS STRONG, THEY COULD SUPPORT MOVIES THEY LIKED AND THEY COULD KIND OF PUT THE KIBOSH ON MOVIES THEY DIDN'T LIKE. I DON'T THINK THAT'S WHAT HAPPENED WITH "CRUISING," I THINK THE GAY PROTEST PEAKED WHILE THE MOVIE WAS BEING SHOT. WHEN IT OPENED, IT OPENED VERY STRONG AT THE BOX OFFICE IN ITS FIRST WEEK BUT IT FELL OFF BECAUSE IT WAS A BAD MOVIE.
 
Gene Siskel: 
THAT HELPED TOO. THERE'S NO QUESTION ABOUT THAT. BUT I THINK THE PROTEST AFFECTED THE WAY THE FILM WAS RELEASED WITH CAUTIONARY REMARKS IN THE BEGINNING AND EDITING CHANGES. I THINK IT CHANGED THE WAY IT LOOKED AND IT LOOKED SO BAD AND IT FELL.
 
Roger Ebert: 
I THINK WHAT WE HAVE ARE MOVIES SUCCEEDING WITH A WHOLE SPECTRUM OF AUDIENCES BECAUSE THEY ARE GO OR POPULAR. THE FRENCH FILM WAS ARTISTIC SUCCESS. AUDIENCES ALL OVER MIDDLE AMERICA WERE LINING UP TO SEE IT AND NOBODY SEEMED TO BE PARTICULARLY OFFENDED WHEN THEY CAME OUT OF THE THEATER. SO IT WAS TIME TO GEAR UP THE HOLLYWOOD DREAM MACHINE AND TEST THE AUDIENCES WITH SOME HOME GROWN MOVIES ABOUT HOMOSEXUALS. FIRST ONE THAT WAS RELEASED WAS "MAKING LOVE" WHICH CAME OUT IN LATE WINTER OF THIS YEAR AND DID VERY WELL AT THE BOX OFFICE WITH THE STORY OF A MAN WOULD LEAVES HIS WIFE FOR ANOTHER MAN. MICHAEL ONTKEAN IS THE DOCTOR WHO DISCOVERED HE'S NOT STRAIGHT AND HARRY HAMLIN PLAYS A NOVELIST HE HAS AN AFFAIR WITH. IN THIS SCENE, THEY HAVE A LOVER'S QUARREL ABOUT HONESTY.

>> HONESTLY?
OH, YOU ARE A GREAT ONE TO TALK ABOUT BEING HONEST.
>> WHAT DO YOU MEAN?
>> FORGET IT.
>> NO, I WANT TO KNOW WHAT YOU MEAN BY THAT.
>> ALL RIGHT.
>> WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?
YOU INVITED ME, I'M HERE BECAUSE YOU INVITED ME.
>> BUT YOU ARE NOT GAY OR ANYTHING, ARE YOU?
YOU ARE JUST CURIOUS, RIGHT?
>> YEAH, I'M CURIOUS, SO WHAT?
>> I'M GETTING SICK OF ALL OF THIS CURIOSITY.
IT'S SO CONVENIENT.
>> WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?
WHAT, BECAUSE I DON'T LIKE YOUR OUTLINE.
I'M SICK OF ALL THE GAMES.
FIRST YOU ARE HERE, AND THEN YOU ARE BACK TO YOUR WIFE.
WHY DON'T YOU HERE INSTEAD OF RUNNING AWAY.
>> I DON'T CRUISE THE BUS TERMINALS AND THEN RUN AWAY BEFORE ANYBODY GETS TOO CLOSE.
>> AT LEAST I KNOW WHO I AM.
I'M NOT AFRAID TO ADMIT IT.
 
Roger Ebert: 
I DON'T KNOW ABOUT YOU BUT THAT SEEMS REAL WRITTEN TO ME. WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THIS? YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN WITH THEIR ARMS AND SO FORTH. IT DOESN'T REALLY RING TRUE. "MAKING LOVE" MADE A LOT OF MONEY. AND AUDIENCES WERE SENDING HOLLYWOOD THE MESSAGE THAT FILMS ABOUT GAYS WERE NOT NECESSARILY BOX OFFICE POISON. I WISH I COULD HAVE SENT A MESSAGE TOO, ASKING IF ANYBODY READ THE SCRIPT, BECAUSE THE CHARACTERS IN "MAKING LOVE" TALK IN SELFDRAMATIZING, OPERA CLICHES, WE CAN'T BELIEVE HALF OF WHAT THEY SAY. BUT "MAKING LOVE" IS AN IMPORTANT FILM. IT OPENED UP MAIN STREAM MOVIES FOR AN ENTIRE MINORITY GROUP. YOU COULD CALL IT THE GUESS WHO IS COMING TO DINNER OF GAY FILMS.
 
Gene Siskel: 
I THOUGHT IT WAS A TERRIFIC MOVIE BECAUSE EVERY SINGLE EMOTION IT WAS DESCRIBING, MAYBE THE DIALOGUE WAS TOO NEAT. THE CONFUSION, A WOMAN'S UNWILLINGNESS TO SEE THAT HER HUSBAND  THE REASON WHY HE MAY NOT BE SLEEPING WITH HER WAS BECAUSE HE WANTED TO SLEEP WITH MEN, WAS COVERED IN THIS MOVIE. IN ITS OWN WAY, I THOUGHT THAT LIKE THE WAY YOU DESCRIBE BOYS IN THE BAND, AS SORT OF A CHECK LIST KIND OF CHARACTER THING, THAT THIS FILM HAD GOTTEN THROUGH. IT WAS NOT INVOLVED WITH GAY CHARACTERS ALONE. I THINK IN AN HISTORICAL WAY, IT'S QUITE IMPORTANT.
 
Roger Ebert: 
IT MADE ME LIKE THE TAXI ZUM KLO. I SAID THIS MOVIE HAS SOME VERY UNSAVORY THINGS IN IT AND IT SHOWED THE CHARACTERS ARE NOT ALL THAT MENTALLY HEALTHY, LATER ON THINKING ABOUT IT AND LOOKING AT THIS FILM, WHICH WAS SO SANITIZED WITH SUCH NOBLE, ALMOST LAUNDERED CHARACTERS IN IT, I FELT THAT THE NICE THING ABOUT TAXI WAS THAT THE DIRECTOR OF THE FILM WAS HONEST ENOUGH TO REALLY TELL THE TRUTH ABOUT HIMSELF, INCLUDING THE BAD PARTS.
 
Gene Siskel: 
THERE'S NO WAY WE WILL EVER BELIEVE THAT  WE WILL AGREE ON "MAKING LOVE" BUT I THINK IT HAS  AS I SAID, IT HAS A LOT OF FINE THINGS TO IT. THE EMANCIPATION OF HOMOSEXUAL CHARACTERS ON FILMS HAS EXTENDED TO LESBIANS AND "PERSONAL BEST" IS AN EXCELLENT SPORTS DRAMA THAT TELLS THE STORY OF PATRICE DONNELLY BEFRIENDING ANOTHER YOUNGER ATHLETE PLAYED BY MARIEL HEMINGWAY. WHAT IS STRIKING ABOUT THE MOVIE AND THIS SCENE IS THE CASUAL MATTER OF FACTNESS OF SHOWING AFFECTION BETWEEN TWO WOMEN.
 
>> THE MARKET WAS CLOSED.
>> COULDN'T YOU HAVE MANAGED.
>> I TOLD THEM I HAD TO GET YOU SOME PACKING BOXES.
>> I HAD TO FILL UP THE BOOKS AND MAKE SURE THE PHONE WAS NOT DISCONNECTED SINCE YOU ARE STAYING.
WHAT ABOUT LUCKY'S?
>> THEY DIDN'T HAVE ANY.
>> THEY DIDN'T HAVE ANY?
>> THAT'S RIGHT.
>> LUCKY'S DIDN'T HAVE ANY BOXES OF ANY KIND?
>> NOT EMPTY ONES.
>> OKAY.
IT DOESN'T BOTHER YOU.
I WILL TELL THE TEAM TOMORROW.
I WON'T DO THE PENTATHLON.
I SWEAR IT.
>> THAT DOESN'T BOTHER ME.
MAYBE IT'S CHANGE.
MAYBE IT'S NOT SEEING YOU FOR SIX WEEKS.
 
Gene Siskel: 
THE LESBIAN RELATIONSHIP THERE IS BUILT ON MUTUAL AFFECTION AND NEED AND PROTECTIVENESS, ALL OF WHICH IS SECONDARY REALLY TO THE MAIN THRUST OF THIS MOVIE WHICH IS MOSTLY ABOUT COMPETITION AND A YOUNG WOMAN GROWING UP AS A PERSON AND AS AN ATHLETE. AND WHEN A MOVIE TREATS A RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN TWO WOMEN AS SOMETHING LESS THAN SHOCKING, THAT REALLY MARKS A CHANGE IN HOLLYWOOD FILMS.
 
Roger Ebert: 
THIS WAS AN INTERESTING FILM FOR ME TO SEE. WE TALKED ABOUT THIS ALSO WHEN WE REVIEWED IT ON SNEAK PREVIEWS. I WALKED INTO THE FILM NOT KNOWING THAT IT WOULD BE A LOVE AFFAIR WITH TWO WOMEN. I THOUGHT IF THEY WERE GOING TO BE HONEST, THESE TWO PEOPLE WOULD FALL IN LOVE.
 
Gene Siskel: 
BECAUSE YOU COULD SEE RIGHT AWAY THAT THEY WERE ATTRACTED TO EACH OTHER.
 
Roger Ebert: 
WHEN IT WAS HONEST, IT WAS SO REFRESHING TO ME, AND I THOUGHT, THIS IS AN EXTRAORDINARY FILM, NO MATTER WHAT IT'S ABOUT. IT'S SO PERCEPTIVE IN SHOWING THESE TWO PEOPLE, WHICH IS REALLY WHAT WE ARE LOOKING FOR IN A LOT OF GOOD MOVIES.
 
Gene Siskel: 
I THINK THIS IS ANOTHER LANDMARK FILM. JUST THE REASON THAT I MENTION, IT MAKES THEIR RELATIONSHIP SECONDARY TO THE STORY. IT'S DONE MATTER OF FACTUALLY AND WHEN YOU CAN DO THAT. I DON'T KNOW ANY MINORITY GROUP THAT THAT ISN'T EXACTLY WHAT THEY WANT. JUST TREAT US NATURALLY AND TELL OUR STORIES AND WHAT WE ARE IN PARTICULAR TO MAKE IT SECONDARY.
 
Roger Ebert: 
AND THAT'S WHAT WE WANT TO. ONE OF THE REASONS WE GO TO THE MOVIES IS TO FIND OUT ABOUT THE PEOPLE TO INTRODUCE OURSELVES TO THE NEW PEOPLE WHO ARE IN THE MOVIES. AND SPEAKING OF THAT, HERE'S A MOVIE THAT DOESN'T DO THAT. THIS IS CALLED PARTNERS. IT SEEMS TO BE RECYCLED OUT OF OLD TV COP SHOWS. IT SHOWS THE INSIGHTS FROM HUMAN NATURE FROM "I LOVE LUCY." THEY WERE ASSIGNED TO LIVE TOGETHER AS A HOMOSEXUAL COUPLE TO HAVE AN UNCOVER MURDER INVESTIGATION. AND O'NEIL COMES HOME TO FIND A HOUSE PARTY GOING ON.
 
>> I DON'T KNOW WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING BUT I HAVEN'T BEEN WASTING MY TIME.
DO YOU SEE THAT BLONDE KID?
HE HAS NOT TOLD THE POLICE EVERYTHING, EITHER.
DID HE TELL YOU?
YES.
>> YES.
>> THAT'S PRETTY GOOD.
WHAT ELSE DID HE SAY?
>> NOTHING.
WE WERE INTERRUPTED.
>> STAY WITH HIM.
>> COME ON, COME ON, STOP PLAYING WITH THOSE DAMN GLASSES.
GO ON, GET OUT THERE.
>> NO.
>> WHY NOT?
WHAT IS THE MATTER KERWIN?
>> NOTHING.
>> THEN GO TALK TO HIM.
WHY THE HELL NOT?
>> BECAUSE HE ASKED ME TO DANCE.
 
Roger Ebert: 
THE PLOT IDEA IN "PARTNERS" IS SIMILAR TO "CRUISING." YOU COULD CALL IT "CRUISING PLAYED FOR LAUGHS." THE FILM DOESN'T QUITE SEEM TO BE ABOUT GAYS. NOT REALLY. IT TAKES GAY CHARACTERS AND PLACES THEM IN SITUATION COMEDY ARENAS. "PARTNER" SOMETIMES SEEMS TO BE TWO DIFFERENT MOVIES. IT TURNS OUT TO BE A RECYCLE RETREAD OF ANCIENT COP AND ROOMMATE MOVIES. WE CAN SEE EVERY GAG HALF A BLOCK AWAY.
 
Gene Siskel: 
THIS TOO, THOUGH, IS A LANDMARK FILM IN A WAY. WHEN YOU GET A REVOLUTION IN FILM AND YOU GET A WHOLE BUNCH OF GAY FILMS, YOU KNOW WHAT YOU WILL GET, THE ROTTEN GAY FILM. AND IT SHOWS WE ARE GETTING EVERY KIND. WE ARE GETTING GOOD ONES AND LOUSY ONES, FILMS WITH NO UNDERSTANDING AND THAT'S WHAT THIS ONE IS. IT'S LIKE A 40-YEAROLD PICTURE. IT'S CRAZY. THEY ARE ONLY MAKING IT BECAUSE THEY THINK IT'S A HOT SUBJECT.
 
Roger Ebert: 
I TOTALLY AGREE.
 
Gene Siskel: 
AND THERE'S BEEN ANOTHER BIT OF FALLOUT AND WE ARE NOW REGULARLY GETTING MAIN STREAM MOVIES WITH SUPPORTING CHARACTERS WHO JUST HAPPEN TO BE GAY. IN A RECENT MOVIE "DEATH TRAP" CHRISTOPHER REEVE AND MICHAEL CAINE ARE LOVERS AND LIVE TOGETHER IN THE COUNTRY AS PLAY WRITES.

>> WHERE WERE YOU?
>> WHERE THE HELL WERE YOU?
>> I THOUGHT YOU HADN'T HEARD ME AND I AMBLED AROUND THROUGH THERE.
I THOUGHT YOU MIGHT LIKE ONE OF THESE.
I HAD A SUDDEN CRAVING.
 
Gene Siskel: 
ONLY WHEN I LAUGHED, JAMES COCOA PLAYED MARSHAL MASON'S CUTE LOVER.

>> NEXT TO SEX, DISHING WITH THE GIRLS IS THE BEST THING I KNOW.
>> I HAVE AN OVERWHELMING DESIRE TO SEE A YOUNG, GOOD LOOKING WAITER.
>> WHO DOESN'T.
 
Gene Siskel: 
AND THIS SPRING WE RECEIVED WHAT MAY BE THE CAPPER ON THE SEXUAL REVOLUTION, AND THAT'S VICTOR VICTORIA. AND IT SAYS THAT ALL THE SEXUAL LABELS IMPOSE. AND IS SAID BY JULIA ANDREWS.

>> THIS IS THE BIGGEST AGENT IN PARIS.
IF I'M THE GREATEST, WHY HASN'T HE HEARD OF ME.
>> YOU ARE THE GREATEST BUT YOU ARE UNKNOWN, EXCEPT IN POLAND.
>> POLAND?
>> YOU ARE A POLISH ARISTOCRAT AND YOU SPEAK VERY LITTLE ENGLISH.
WE MET IN WARSAW AND FELL IN LOVE AND BROUGHT YOU TO PARIS.
>> WHAT'S WRONG?
>> WHAT'S RIGHT?
A WOMAN PRETENDING TO BE A MAN PRETENDING TO BE A WOMAN?
>> RIDICULOUS!
>> PREPOSTEROUS.
>> IT'S SO PREPOSTEROUS NO ONE WOULD EVER BELIEVE IT.
>> AND WHEN THEY BOTH GET THE MESSAGE, THEN YOU KNOW THAT WE ARE DEALING WITH MAIN STREAM FILMS IN WHICH SEXUAL ROLES HAS CHANGED QUITE A BIT.
 
Roger Ebert: 
IT'S A REAL GOOD MOVIE AND IT'S DOING WELL AT THE BOX OFFICE. FOR A LONG TIME, HOLLYWOOD SIMPLY DIDN'T ADMIT THAT HOMOSEXUALS WERE NOT THERE IN THE MOVIES, NOT IDENTIFIED OR NOT ACKNOWLEDGED. NOW THAT CLOSET DOOR IS OPEN AND THERE HAVE BEEN SEVERAL SUCCESSFUL MOVIES ABOUT GAYS AND THERE WILL PROBABLY BE A LOT MORE. SOMETIMES I SUPPOSE THEY WILL BE TRASHED AND SOMETIMES THEY WILL BE MASTER PIECES. HOMOSEXUAL CHARACTERS WILL JUST HAVE TO TAKE THEIR CHANCES ALONG WITH EVERYONE ELSE AND AT LEAST NOW THE MOVIES HAVE ACKNOWLEDGED THE EXISTENCE OF A LOT OF MEN AND WOMEN WHO WENT THROUGH THE LAST FEW YEARS AND COULD NEVER HOPE TO SEE THEMSELVES ON THE SCREEN.
 
Gene Siskel: 
YOU ARE OPTIMISTIC ABOUT THE FUTURE. YOU KNOW WHAT, I'M WORRIED THAT JUST LIKE FILMS ABOUT VIETNAM WERE TRENDY AND AS WE TALKED ABOUT ONCE HERE BEFORE, FILMS ABOUT BLACK PEOPLE WERE TRENDY, IT WOULD NOT SURPRISE ME IF GAY PEOPLE IN MOVIES BECAME A 1980, '81, '82 KIND OF SUBJECT AND WERE TOSSED AWAY. IT WOULDN'T SURPRISE ME.
 
Roger Ebert: 
ONLY THE FUTURE WILL TELL. I BELIEVE THAT GOOD MOVIES ARE GOING TO BE ABLE TO FIND AN AUDIENCE NO MATTER WHAT THEY ARE ABOUT AND THAT'S PROBABLY WHAT WE ARE TALKING ABOUT.
 
Gene Siskel: 
I WONDER IF ANYBODY IS GOING TO WANT TO MAKE THEM. I HOPE THEY ARE NOT SO SINGLE MINDED IN HOLLYWOOD, WHILE THIS IS HOT THIS YEAR, WE WON'T DO IT AGAIN.
 
Roger Ebert: 
I HOPE NOT.
 
Gene Siskel: 
JOIN US NEXT TIME ON SNEAK PREVIEWS AND UNTIL THEN, WE WILL SEE YOU AT THE MOVIES.
 
 
Ignatiy Vishnevetsky: 
IT'S INTERESTING THAT GENE HERE PREDICTS THAT FILMS ON GAY SUBJECTS WILL BE JUST AN '80s FAD BECAUSE IT'S JUST A FEW YEARS LATER THAT YOU REALLY START GETTING A LOT OF OPENLY GAY FILMMAKERS AND MIND YOU, THERE HAVE BEEN GAY FILMMAKERS AS FAR BACK AS WE HAVE CINEMA. THEY ARE VERY SPECIFICALLY ON QUEER THEMES. YOU KNOW, JUST  GREG ROCKY. AND SEVERAL OTHERS. PEOPLE FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD.
 
Christy Lemire: 
AND YOU LOOK AT A MOVIE LIKE "BROKE BACK MOUNTAIN" WHICH IN RETROSPECT SHOULD HAVE WON THE OSCAR. YOU HAVE THESE STRAIGHT ACTORS WHO ARE PLAYING IN A GAY ROMANCE AND THERE'S NO STIGMA OF, OH, HOW IS IT GOING TO HURT MY CAREER? IT'S A LOVE STORY IN ITS OWN WAY.
 
Ignatiy Vishnevetsky: 
IT'S TRUE THAT THEY ARE SIGNIFICANTLY MORE GAY CHARACTERS NOW THAN THERE WERE IN FILMS IN THE '70s AND '80s, IT'S STILL THE CHATTY HAIRDRESSER FRIEND.
 
Christy Lemire: 
THE WISE CRACKING BEST FRIEND WHO WILL GO SHOPPING WITH YOU.
 
Ignatiy Vishnevetsky: 
I THINK THERE'S A LONG WAY TO GO. JOIN US NEXT WEEK FOR ANOTHER SPECIAL LOOK BACK AT SNEAK PREVIEWS. AND YOU CAN FOLLOW THE DISCUSSION ON FACEBOOK AND ON TWITTER. UNTIL THEN, THE BALCONY IS CLOSED. 
 
Ignatiy Vishnevetsky: 
FOR MORE REVIEWS AND MORE FROM ROGER'S OFFICE, VISIT OUR WEB SITE AT EBERTPRESENTS.COM.