victimIn 1961, U.K. director Basil Dearden did something remarkable. He made a big budget film starring Dirk Bogarde and Sylvia Sims about homosexuality. The title of the film was Victim. Ironically instead of portraying the lead character as a victim, Deardon’s film was the first to portray a gay character as anything other than negative. Bogarde’s Melville Farr is married (to a woman), a rising lawyer in London who decides to go after the blackmailer of gay men. The twist is that Farr is gay himself, closeted but has been with a young man who he mistakes for being a blackmailer, ignores and then realizes he must avenge. Victim is so ahead of its time. Of course there are minor characters who spew the hatred we still hear today. But Dearden populated the film with many characters who are more concerned with Farr as a human being that with dragging him down because of his sexuality. Remember this is 1961. An amazing glimpse into the future provided by screenwriters Janet Green and John McCormick who create a world that begins to look a little like the one we live in today. Farr’s life may change drastically, he may lose his social standing and his career. But his decision to live in truth lifts a huge burden off his shoulders making his relationships more genuine and offering him hope for a more honest and authentic life. A lesson as relevant today as it was over 50 years ago. 5 out of 5 for Basil Dearden’s classic film Victim.


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