Steve Hayes regales us each week with his dishy, funny, and informative classic movie recommendations as the Tired Old Queen at the Movies!
DIRK BOGARDE: 1921-1999
So, here's "the dish" on Dirk. Dirk Bogarde, with his huge sad eyes and dark brooding good looks, was the leading matinee idol of the 1950's in England and had been for ten years by the time he made Victim in 1961. Basically considered the Robert Pattinson of his day, he was chased through the streets and haunted and hunted by paparazzi wherever he went for his romantic roles in British romances and his appearances in the hugely popular Carry On series.
A shy and private man, he lived by a code of honor and honesty, which he infused in everything he undertook, from his screen work to his later autobiographies and novels. He was born into privilege in London and raised by nannies. His mother was a frustrated actress and he was given an education in the arts at an early age. He worked in the Air Photography Intelligence Service during World War Two and saw the liberation of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. The memories of what he experienced there stayed with him for the rest of his life and fueled his intolerance of bullies of any kind, either military, social, political or personnel. This accounts for his stepping into the role in Victim at the height of his popularity, which resulted in his subsequent career change, when his fans deserted him as a result.
Victim concerns a successful barrister who is forced out of the closet when blackmailed for being homosexual. He decides to fight and as a result, must expose himself and those he loves to his true nature in order to be free. Victim did much to change the laws regarding homosexuality in Great Britain, laws which had been in existence for hundreds of years, but it blacklisted Bogarde in terms of his matinee idol status and for the rest of his career, he did his best work as a character actor/leading man in a variety of low budget but socially conscious movies many in partnership with blacklisted American director Joseph Losey and later with the flamboyant Italian Director Luchino Visconti. He also worked opposite many of the big actresses of the period, without being dwarfed by them.
Always a great champion of Judy Garland, he helped her through her final film; I Could Go on Singing (1964), which he wrote about in one of his autobiographies; Snake and Ladders and which proved to be a terrible experience for all concerned. Her perpetual lateness, emotional outbursts and addictive behavior turning him from a "Friend of Dorothy's" to a "friend of the bartender" due to her antics.
Being extremely uncooperative and protective of his private life,he lived quietly for many years in France with his lover and manager Tony Forwood. And even though he played the persecuted barrister in Victim as well as several other Gay characters, he never publicly acknowledged his relationship with Forwood, saying they were merely best friends and roommates. In later years he discovered his talent for writing and although he considered himself more of an author than an actor, it is for his film work that he's best remembered.
Recommended Films with a "Gay bent" on DVD:
Victim (1961) - IMDB - Netflix
The Servant (1963) - IMDB - Netflix
I Could Go on Singing (1963) - IMDB - Netflix
Darling (1965) - IMDB - Netflix
The Damned (1969) - IMDB - Netflix
Death In Venice (1971) - IMDB - Netflix
The Night Porter (1973) - IMDB - Netflix