Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Big Screen in the Sky

Actor Farley Granger died yesterday in Manhattan at age 85. Granger came to prominence in 1948 in Alfred Hitchcock's disturbing re-telling of the Leopold and Loeb murder case, Rope. Legendary for its camerawork (it was composed of just ten shots) Rope also was noteworthy for its homosexual murderous duo. While Granger nor his co-star John Dall ever speak of the love that dare not speak its name, the film sizzles with an underlying attraction and dependence between the two young men. Hitchcock would use Granger again in the center of a strange mano-a-mano pairing in 1951's Strangers on a Train. In Strangers, Granger strikes up a bizarre relationship with Robert Walker when Walker's sociopathic, and strangely effete character takes Granger up on an offer to kill someone for him. Granger is surprised to learn that a conversation he thought was simply a lark becomes a deadly case of prid pro quo. As with Rope, there is an underlying tone of homosexuality, that if fully expressed would have doomed the movie's script to the garbage can. But thanks in good part to Granger's performances, the subtexts can be read and enjoyed by those who wanted to read between the lines. It probably didn't hurt that Granger was a self-professed bi-sexual who wooed the likes of Shelley Winters, Leonard Bernstein and Arthur Laurents. While not necessarily out and proud, Granger certainly gave a face to a different kind of male lead in 1940's Hollywood.

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