CELLULOID CLOSET week continues with the 1962 legal thriller starring Henry Fonda.
This week we inducted Vito Russo into the Badass Hall of Fame for his activism in the fields of gay rights and AIDS protection, and for his brilliant work on gay and lesbian film studies, The Celluloid Closet. Russo studied homophobic stereotypes in American cinema and the way those stereotypes impeded the gay rights movement for decades - and possibly still do.
Advise and Consent is a 1962 legal thriller starring Henry Fonda and directed by boundary-pushing maestro Otto Preminger (Anatomy of a Murder, The Man with the Golden Arm, Laura). The film was adapted by screenwriter Wendell Mayes from the 1959 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Allen Drury.
Fonda plays Robert Leffingwell, nominated by the President for the position of Secretary of State. The Senate must use their advise or consent powers to confirm Leffingwell, but his nomination is controversial and the Senate is divided, so a subcommittee is established to vet Leffingwell, chaired by Brigham Anderson (Don Murray). Leffingwell has some Communism in his past and the Senate is fiercely divided. Anderson wants the White House to withdraw Leffingwell's nomination.
Anderson and his wife Ellen (Inga Swenson) soon begin receiving ominous phone calls, and Anderson is threatened with blackmail. Someone has discovered his past homosexual dalliance with his friend Ray in Hawaii! Anderson must give a favorable report of his evaluation on Leffingwell, or everyone will learn his secret.
The film is a super twisty legal thriller; it's absolutely fascinating and really juicy. In The Celluloid Closet, Russo especially highlighted the scene where Anderson visits a gay bar to meet with his blackmailer, and he flees in horror as he sees the men casually cruising each other. No spoilers here, but since this is a film about a homosexual made in the '60s, I bet you can guess what happens.
Also, this trailer is the cutest! It's really long and I love the voiceover. "You may recognize government officials and leaders of Washington society who play themselves." Adorable!