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Author Topic: The Endless Thunderbolt & Lightfoot Gay/No Way Debate  (Read 24632 times)
Matt
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« on: December 15, 2002, 07:27:56 PM »

This is one of the last great debates from the old board.  We really went all out in this one... and things got a little heated here and there.  After 8 pages of posts, and restating the same points any which way we can, and every which way but loose... we finally let the thread die out... but not before anyone changed their opinions in the slightest.  Still, it's considered by some (mainly those involved in it) a great debate.  Sooooo.... I'm going to bring it to you now.. post by post, leaving out nothing.  You can relive the horror... relive the pain, the anguish, the amusement of the original thread simply titled "Thunderbolt and Lightfoot" and eventually aptly renamed, "The Endless Thunderbolt and Lightfoot Gay/No Way Debate". 

Enjoy, or ... just deal with it.
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« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2002, 07:41:22 PM »

Originally posted by Matt, 06-29-2001 03:31 PM
I just saw Thunderbolt and Lightfoot for the first time last night. For those of you familiar with my posts, you might think, "Hey, Matt's seeing a lot of Clint's films for the first time lately. Thought he was an Eastwood fan." Yeah, I've been an Eastwood fan for nearly twenty years, but first and foremost I've always been a fan of his westerns. It wasn't much of a jump to love the Dirty Harry series. And now I'm finally becoming a fan of everything else. His smaller, lesser known films are turning out to be real gems.

I did a forum search to see what had already been discussed about this film and found mainly discussions about the cause of Lightfoot's death and the gay undertones of the film. I've been trying to think of something new to discuss about it since the Eastwood forums have been a little quiet lately, but first, here's my take on the ‘gay undertones'... I don't see it. I think it was mentioned in one of the previous threads that Michael Cimino meant for there to be a gay undertone, but the only time I thought there might be a hint of one was when Lightfoot brought Gloria to the motel for Thunderbolt's enjoyment and the two had a disastrous sex exchange. But does that point to homosexuality? I say no. That girl was downright miserable from the moment she walked into that motel room. Can any man here say that they would have enjoyed it more than Thunderbolt did if put in that exact same situation? Hell I give him credit for doing as well as he did! And who can blame him for not driving her home? Now, if he was with a woman who was halfway interested in him, or who didn't have an ‘I have better things I could be doing right now' attitude, I'd be willing to guess he would have been able to summon up a little more enthusiasm and maybe be more successful. In the following scene, Thunderbolt looks dazed as he tries to make sense of what did (or rather what didn't) happen with the girl. I guess this is where some can make their ‘homosexual' case. But I feel it's just as strong a case to say he's only feeling down on himself for what had just transpired. If I look at the relationship between the two men... I just don't see anything there more than friendship. They obviously enjoy each other's company, but is it sexual? God, I don't see it. So now let's talk about that friendship.

In the beginning of this film, Thunderbolt is reluctant to befriend Lightfoot. We know Thunderbolt is a Korean war veteran and hero, a loner with no family or friends to speak of. Since his war history was brought up several times in the film and we know very little else about his past, we can attribute at least some of his detached behavior to that. It's not uncommon for those who have been involved in direct combat to have a hard time developing close relationships again. So what made him finally let down his guard and become friends with Lightfoot? Did preaching in that small Idaho town wear him down, making him feel old and used up, and that by spending time with Lightfoot, he caught some of the younger man's energy and became revitalized? Anyone have any thoughts on this?

Before ending this post (I know it's already a long post... hang with me just another minute), gotta say that those last few scenes were just incredible. In the car when Lightfoot's speech became more and more slurred and Thunderbolt looks over at him for what seems an eternity (kept thinking to myself... look at the road Clint... look at the road) while it dawns on him that whatever had been wrong with his friend was suddenly something to really be worried about... that was one of the best moments in any of Clint's films that I've seen.

Let's hear what the rest of the forum has to say about this film.

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« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2002, 07:43:00 PM »

Originally posted by AKA23, 06-29-2001 05:38 PM  
Well, I too just saw this film recently and I would say that it is definitely one of the best character dramas of Eastwood's films. The relationship between Thunderbolt and Lightfoot is one that we had not, and in my opinion, still have not seen again in one of Eastwood's films. Its a classic movie that explores in depth the relationship between these two characters as they struggle to come to a mutual understanding. Its not just a crime drama, its a relationship story. And although it is a masterful and well written crime thriler, the relationship angle is at times just as, or maybe even more poignant and interesting. I cant say that it is one of my absolute favorite Eastwood films, but it ranks right up there...but with so many great Eastwood films, how can you decide?
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« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2002, 07:44:49 PM »

Originally posted by AKA23,06-29-2001 05:41 PM      
Oh, and as for the homosexual undertones between the relationship of Thunderbolt and Lightfoot I just dont see it. In fact, the opposite is true. Jeff Bridges character seems to be consumed by female sexuality, as evidences when he brings those two women unbeknownest to Clint's character to spend the night. I dont see any evidence of a homosexual relationship at all. Not even in the slightest. In fact, to say that there was one would just cheapen the effect of this wonderfully poignant film. I dont see how that sort of relationship would really add anything to the film, in fact in would detract from some of the beauty. I just dont see any correlation at all. Im with Matt on this one. Any thoughts? I know that somebody has some thoughts on this.
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« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2002, 07:45:44 PM »

Originally posted by mgk, 06-29-2001 06:22 PM      
Thunderbolt and Lightfoot was one of those Eastwood movies that I skipped when it first came out. But, when Eastwood knocked me over with Heartbreak Ridge and I realized there had to be a lot more to this guy, I went back and gathered up all of his movies. When I watched Thunderbolt and Lightfoot the first time, I was delightfully surprised to see Eastwood and Bridges together in this movie. Bridges' performance, of course, was outstanding and it was fun to watch Clint in a movie about a real friendship with another guy. We had seen him as the loner for so long and this was a nice change.

I agree with MattR and AKA23...I don't see the gay overtones or undertones. I can see where it would be easy for some people to think that might have been part of it because they had never seen Eastwood in a real friendship role. But, Lightfoot seemed to be a little girl crazy and wasn't really pleased to dress as a female to pull off the heist. Having dressed that way as part of the scenario also may have raised some eyebrows, especially back in 1974.

It's another one of Eastwood's smaller films that is rich in it's story and the relationship between the two men.

mgk

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« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2002, 08:06:17 PM »

Originally posted by GMAT, 06-30-2001 04:03 AM      
The gay subtext in Thunderbolt and Lightfoot is a subtext. As in subtext. The main characters are all very much heterosexual in terms of the pure narrative. There's no doubt about that. But I do believe that there is ample evidence of a gay subtext, and if we are to believe Cimino's (alleged) word, it was very much intended. Of course, there are going to be many people who don't want to perceive a gay subtext in this road/caper/buddy movie, and that's fine. As Holden once said, enjoy it in good health. But I do think that in terms of a serious and scholarly debate, the gay subtext is something that has to be reckoned with.

The noted critic Robin Wood has been the main proponent of the gay subtext in Thunderbolt and Lightfoot. The following is a quote from Wood:


Quote
Significantly, from the point where the disguise is adopted, the film keeps the two men apart as long as possible, and the sexual overtones are restricted again to the implications of the editing. Lightfoot walking down the street in drag is intercut with Thunderbolt removing his clothes in preparation for the robbery; Lightfoot's masquerade is then juxtaposed with the 'erection' of Thunderbolt's enormous cannon. This culminates in the film's most outrageous moment: in a washroom Lightfoot, back to camera, bends over the watchman he has knocked out, his skirt raised to expose ass clad only in the briefest of briefs, from which he extracts a revolver; the film immediately cuts to Thunderbolt, fixing his cannon in its fully erect position. In its recent treatments of male homosexuality, the Hollywood cinema has never dared give us anything comparable to that.

I think that that sequencing and editing is pretty compelling evidence for a gay subtext. Movies are carefully mapped out and don't just happen "naturally" and without certain implications. There are other symbolic clues throughout the film if you want to sit down with it. As Paul Smith says in his (contemptuous) Clint Eastwood: A Cultural Production (1993), "For the most part, the movie treats the two men and their deepening affection as if this were a heterosexual couple" (page 146). Again, everyone is all well and nominally heterosexual in Thunderbolt and Lightfoot. But just as the church, bank, and school don't merely represent a church, bank, and school (but rather cultural confusion and disillusionment through the displacement and vulnerability of America's most fundamental institutions), there is more than meets the eye regarding the male relationships portrayed in this film.

Allow me to quote the following passage from Richard Schickel's Clint Eastwood: A Biography (1996) regarding the most obvious of those symbolic clues:


Quote
Largest item: For purposes of the robbery Lightfoot is obliged to don drag in order to distract a guard at the bank [sic] and, in the getaway, to look like Thunderbolt's date at a drive-in movie. Lightfoot is very much at ease cross-dressed, and rather attractive at that. Lightly played, these scenes suggest that here is another line, in the traditional American view the most inviolable of all [emphasis added], that is more easily crossed than most people dream. Or as Wood puts it, "It is the essentially gentle Lightfoot, with his indeterminate sexuality, his freedom from the constraints of normal gender roles, and his air of presocialized child, who constitutes the real threat to the culture."
[Page 308]

And he constitutes the real threat to the repressed and rigid Red, who kills Lightfoot largely because he crosses that inviolable line with remarkable ease. A quarter century before Matthew Sheperd's gruesome murder, was Thunderbolt and Lightfoot that far ahead of its time in its critique of American intolerance and savagery towards homosexuals? I wouldn't put it past Cimino (or Clint). Thunderbolt and Lightfoot is a sophisticated film that transcends the average road/caper/buddy movie in terms of what it has to say about cultural confusion and upheaval in the immediate aftermath of Vietnam, depicting an America that is remarkably unsure of itself and on a lonely highway to nowhere.

"And where do we go from here?"

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« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2002, 08:15:40 PM »

Originally posted by Matt, 06-30-2001 09:26 AM      
I still don't see it.
 
If a gay subtext was meant to be there, maybe in 1974 a movie like this was so ahead of its time that it stuck out like a sore thumb. But reading those quotes of examples, GMAT, it just gets a big 'oh you've gotta be kidding me' laugh out of me. Especially the part about the 'erection of Thunderbolt's enormous cannon'.

I've never given much credence to the thoughts and speculation of film critics, and so I just can't really pay much mind to what they have to say about this. The only thing that you've given me that supports the notion that there is a gay subtext to this film is that Cimino (who wrote it) says there is. Can't really argue with that. But as for my perception of the film that he created.... it doesn't really come across. I even watched it knowing in advance that the subtext was there, and LOOKED for it and didn't see it. It's surprising to me that others saw it so clearly. But then again, we ARE talking about a film that was made 27 years ago when homosexuality was much less accepted than it is today and when there weren't movies being made for the mainstream public that dealt with homosexuality in likeable characters.

Nowadays, just the opposite is true. The liberal media has given us so many films sympathetic to homosexuality that it has definitely had an effect on our society, making it far more acceptable than it was in the mid-seventies. So when comparing this film to the movies that are being made today, I find it refreshing to see two men who share a brotherly type of love without a gay subtext.

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« Reply #7 on: December 15, 2002, 08:17:01 PM »

Originally posted by Gunny, 06-30-2001 02:45 PM      

Uh huh, Matt lets hear the rest of that one.

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« Reply #8 on: December 15, 2002, 08:35:25 PM »

Originally posted by the stranger,  06-30-2001 03:34 PM
Totally agree with you Matt, sounds to be like someone was just reading something into the editing (in respect to the erection of the large gun) for me this is total BS!
I view it and I see what Thunderbolt is doing, then I see what Lightfoot is doing, nothing more, nothing less, I'm way too busy enjoying the plot. Christ doesn't anybody just watch a film without trying to read something else into it....

most of the reason's given above have perfectly obvious explanations... Bridges has to dress as an attractive woman to get to self abusive guy behind the desk, correct? Clint needs a big gun to blast through the very thick walls, correct?

Lightfoot was never at ease dressing as a girl, total Bull! It's blatantly obvious, there is a line which adds a touch of comic relief during the whole build up to the robbery "sexy b*$@h" from Lightfoot, in the bathroom mirror, but that's about it, as far as I can remember he was b*$@hing about being dressed as a girl from there on...

Like Matt said, if Cimino has said this then OK, can't argue, but, if it is true, for me, Cimino has failed on that particular level, not once have I ever been aware of homosexual undertones. For me, Thunderbolt simply looked upon Lightfoot, as a younger more reckless version of himself, in admiration of his reckless freedom, I thought he envied him. Lightfoot I think loved the coolness of this guy, and simply wanted him as a friend.

"I want you're friendship, Man"

An obvious loner in need of a friend? That's the level it works on for me anyway....
Simple Right?
-Stranger-

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« Reply #9 on: December 15, 2002, 09:14:55 PM »

Originally posted by GMAT, 06-30-2001 06:21 PM      
What's important to remember here is that the gay subtext is in the abstract[/i]. It doesn't mean that Thunderbolt and Lightfoot are actually gay or that their relationship is at all sexual in nature. What it does men is that in the abstract, either below or beyond the level of the narrative, the film has something to say about male homosexuality. To me, the erection of Thunderbolt's cannon immediately following Lightfoot bending over and sticking his scantily-clad ass toward the camera is just too obvious of a cut to be ignored. It may seem outrageous and ridiculous, but that's the point, and it's certainly keeping in spirit with the daring and absurd tone of the film (think of the maniac with the bunnies, for example). And why does Red brutally beat Lightfoot? For his "generational transgressions" (Schickel's term), the most significant of which is his transcendence of gender and comparatively effeminate nature. He's Thunderbolt's "girl" in a sense (and the symbolism there is very obvious), and Red kicks the sh!t out of him for it.

Yes, on one level, this movie is very much about friendship, and it's fine to just leave it at that. But it's also a homosocial film about male relationships and their sexual energies. Cimino wanted to explore that, both through the tolerant Thunderbolt and the intolerant Red. Again, why does Red waste Lightfoot and act so contemptuously towards him? Cimino was saying something socially through these relationships.

Everything has perfectly obvious explanations and it all works simply on a narrative level, but that doesn't mean that there can't be something more to it, something in the abstract. Yes, Lightfoot seems flustered by his donning of drag in one sense, but I also think the he appears quite comfortable (and effective) in his role as the "girl." There's a symbolism to that masquerade that goes beyond the plot. Or do you also disagree that the fate of the church, bank, and school represents a decline in America's traditional institutions and a society that has somehow lost its way? Do you disagree that The Outlaw Josey Wales stands as a Vietnam metaphor or that The Beguiled is an anti-war film? Do you refuse to see a religious subtext and a Christ complex in A Fistful of Dollars? All of these films work straightforwardly and enjoyably on a narrative level, but they also offer more sophisticated contemplation on another plane. Or do we just ignore that and refuse the symbolism? Do we not allow for the possibility that the filmmakers have something ironic and intelligent to say through their work?

I still suspect that this aversion to the perception of a gay subtext in Thunderbolt and Lightfoot has to do with the fact that it's homosexuality, that still touchy social issue, the one where we've probably made the least amount of progress. Heck, I can relate: a couple of years ago, I would have been right there with Matt and the stranger, AKA and mgk, denying the existence of such a subtext. In fact, I did deny it, right here on the board in a thread similar to this one. But I've grown wiser and more sophisticated in my understanding, and I now see it differently.

My point is that I hope that people give this issue serious thought and don't dismiss it so easily. Since it's a gay subtext, it's easy to enter a reactionary mindset and not want to believe it - I once did it myself. But as Robin Wood says, Lightfoot's death is one of the most necessary in Hollywood cinema, because of the threat that lies in his transcendence of gender and sexuality. Red doesn't kill him for no reason.

Finally, let me say that some of you appear to think that the seeming gay subtext stuck out like a sore thumb because it was 1974. Well, that's not the case. If you read the reviews of the day, you won't find any mention of it. It's not a case where people just overreacted because it was the seventies - most folks never saw it all. Heck, I never saw it originally and neither do most of you. To me, it's subtle and ironic and deserves repeated viewings and judgments.

I hope that Holden will weigh-in here as well ...

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« Reply #10 on: December 15, 2002, 09:18:50 PM »

Originally posted by the stranger, 06-30-2001 07:51 PM      
The Abstract is an open invitation to read into it exactly what you want to read into it..
Christ if we all walked about and analysed every movie to this degree where will it end?

So If I'm watching JAWS:
and I notice that the director and editor have decided to cut from a shot of the shark with it's mouth wide open, to a close up of Quint's Rod stuck between his legs, does this suggest then that I have to therefore consider if Quint's intention could me to receive a Blo* Jo* from the shark rather than to kill it??

Should I be questioning Mr Spielberg if there was indeed some perverse Abstract subtext under the narrative?

Or could it simply be that the director envisaged his sequence of shots to unfold in that order?

I still think it's a pretty thin argument...

...and I saw Thunderbolt and Lightfoot in the 70's, and glad to report I have never seen it as anything else.
It's not a case of not wanting to accept it, if there was a genuine Homosexual subtext there it really wouldn't worry me, I'd still love the film, as much as I always have. I've just never made that connection...
As for Red's Killing of Lightfoot?
Red had it in for Lightfoot as soon as he displayed his cocky (Sh*t, there's no Homosexual abstract in the word "Cocky" is there?)attitude, he hated him, he thought he was flash and arrogant..
and when he got his chance he took him out...
You don't have to be too intelligent to realise that Red was a vicious and violent man...
He simply hated Lightfoot's style...

"Say something funny Now"

I think it's very easy to be mislead by these critics, and think it's often a result of their desire to develop a NEW angle upon an otherwise perfectly innocent story?

I wonder GMAT, with respect, did you change you're opinion after reading Wood's piece or are you saying that you had always looked at Thunderbolt and Lightfoot
and had always observed a Homosexual subtext?
-Stranger-

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« Reply #11 on: December 15, 2002, 09:34:20 PM »

Originally posted by GMAT, 06-30-2001 08:26 PM
I did change my opinion, but not just because I happened upon one guy's piece. It was a result of repreated viewings, discussion, reading, contemplation, intellectual development ... a series of factors over time.
I understand your concerns regarding subtext and the abstract, but I don't think that it's wise to generalize regarding those issues. The merit of a subtext or abstract development really depends on the particular situation. There's been at least one writer who's perceived a Gulf War reflection in Unforgiven; I see that as completely ludicrous and untrue for a host of reasons. Nor do I view Dirty Harry as a piece of right-wing propaganda, as some of the critics did back then ... but that doesn't mean that I automatically reject subtext or the abstract. It depends on the situation and the argument, and for me, it really makes sense with Thunderbolt and Lightfoot. In this case, I don't think that too much is being made of it.


Yes, Red, hated Lightfoot's style and was a violent and vicious man to begin with. But much of Lightfoot's style revolves around his "generational transgressions" and countercultural values (as Red says, "These kids today, they don't believe in anything!"), and part of that involves his effeminate, "essentially gentle" nature, his "indeterminate sexuality," and his ability to become a "girl" and Thunderbolt's date. For an old-school, macho guy like Red, is there anything more disgusting than a lubricious, attractive guy like Lightfoot who can easily transcend the definitions of gender and sexuality? Wasn't that much of the backlash against "hippies"? Isn't that an extreme threat to much of America, even today? Doesn't that jibe with the film's mood and theme regarding cultural confusion and upheaval in the immediate aftermath of Vietnam? These are important and evident issues that can't be ignored. Don't forget that when Lightfoot "kisses" Red, the older man becomes enraged and roars, "I'll kill you for that!" For what? For the kiss? And what does the kiss represent in this context? There are too many clues here to just ignore the possibility of a gay subtext.


For me, there is plenty of evidence of a gay subtext and social statement throughout Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, and, when backed up by Cimino's word of intent (along with Eastwood's endorsement), I see no reason to refute it. It's subtle, it's sophisticated, it's subtext, and the film certainly doesn't need it ... but that doesn't mean that it isn't there.


Often people will say, "I don't like to read too much into movies." I understand completely where they're coming from, but I prefer to say that there are right(er) readings and then there are wrong(er) readings, and it all depends on the particular situation. Making judgments on those arguments is much of the point of film study and criticism. It can be a dangerous study, but it also can be extremely rewarding in that it draws out the richness of film. My point is that it shouldn't be automatically rejected.
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« Reply #12 on: December 15, 2002, 09:41:44 PM »

Originally posted by the stranger, 06-30-2001 09:08 PM      
I just knew you was going to bring up the Kiss  
From my point of view, I think he just wanted to piss Red off, he was permanently out to wind up Red as soon as they were working on the same side.
As for the mood of America, after the Vietnam war etc, I can't be drawn it to that side of the argument GMAT, it was just a little too far away for me to soak up here in the UK, which could be the reason why I view it in a completely different light. Hey, if it works for you so be it.
I still believe there are far too many obvious references to Thunderbolt and Lightfoot's sexual preferences (within the Narrative) that simply does not allow room for any consideration of a homosexual subtext...
and life's to short to go back and view it again, trying to falsely interpret it (for me) in any other way...
Wasn't that a good clean fight  
I'd still like to hear some other member's opinions though....?
-Stranger-

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« Reply #13 on: December 15, 2002, 09:44:28 PM »

Originally posted by KC, 06-30-2001 09:26 PM      
People, you are talking "past each other"!

The meaning of a "subtext" is (or can be) precisely something that contradicts the "text." It is something that is read INTO the text, on the basis of subtle, less obvious clues in the narrative. Unless the director comes out and says so, there is usually no way of knowing whether those clues were intentionally placed there or not ... but one school of critical thought says it doesn't matter what the artist INTENDED, it is what you can find in the text that is important (whether on the surface, or buried beneath it). So, the fact that there are many "obvious references to Thunderbolt and Lightfoot's sexual preferences," has nothing whatsoever to do with what the "subtext" may be.

Yes, film "scholars" do come up with a lot of weird readings of familar films sometimes. But, that's why they are called "scholars," I guess ...
 


KC

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« Reply #14 on: December 15, 2002, 09:50:01 PM »

Originally posted by the stranger, 06-30-2001 10:00 PM      
Well, Excuse me, maybe this "Dumb Ol Boy" does not have enough intellect to enter into a conversation here...Sorry, I was just expressing how I see the film, on a pure entertainment level. Guess you're looking for a higher Standard...
Hell, what do I know...  
-Stranger-

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« Reply #15 on: December 15, 2002, 09:55:16 PM »

Originally posted by Matt, 06-30-2001 10:25 PM      
Hold on now...

A cannon segues into a scene with a man's bent over a$$ and those who don't see this as a gay subtext in a film with two heterosexual men are somehow less intelligent and sophisticated than those who do?

Hell, what were the rest of us thinking... we were looking at the CHARACTERS, interpreting their body language, their expressions, their verbal and non-verbal exchanges, when all along we should have been looking for phallic symbols!!! I guess this gives Daisy's anti-gay case on Dirty Harry and his 'big gun' some substance.

Yikes.

Well, I brought this topic up so we could get some good debating going, but let me quote myself:


Quote
The only thing that you've given me that supports the notion that there is a gay subtext to this film is that Cimino (who wrote it) says there is. Can't really argue with that. But as for my perception of the film that he created.... it doesn't really come across. I even watched it knowing in advance that the subtext was there, and LOOKED for it and didn't see it.

and The Stranger:

Quote
... if Cimino has said this then OK, can't argue, but, if it is true, for me, Cimino has failed on that particular level, not once have I ever been aware of homosexual undertones

(emphasis added on both the above quotes)

We aren't saying it's not there. We can't say that because Cimino says it's there. What we ARE saying is for us, it didn't come across.

One thing I've enjoyed about this thread... this is the first time The Stranger has ever agreed with me

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« Reply #16 on: December 15, 2002, 10:01:45 PM »

Originally posted by KC, 06-30-2001 10:54 PM      
Matt, that's fine, and I'm with you. (So is Clint, who has always encouraged audiences to find the meaning they prefer in his movies.)

All I meant to say with my post is that "film scholars" have other ways of looking at these things. I didn't mean to suggest that film scholars necessarily fall into the class of "intelligent and sophisticated" people, as opposed to the rest of us ... quite the contrary, in my experience, film scholars a) often don't bother to see what is actually IN the films they are analyzing, because they are too busy looking for subtexts, and b) don't do a good job of analyzing the stuff they do discover, because, well, maybe because if they were intelligent enough to do that, they would be doing something more meaningful and better paying, like rocket science ...

But by the nature of the thing ... if you expect to get an article published in a scholarly journal, in any field, it should have a premise that no one has ever utilized before. So if you can find a "subtext" in a film by pointing to a series of images no one has ever connected before (or connected in just the way you are trying to connect it), maybe you can get an article published in Film Quarterly, and that will look nice on your résumé, and be useful when your name comes up for tenure.

It doesn't make you a better observer, or mean you are more intelligent than, say, the average poster on this board, who's seen most of Eastwood's films many times and could do a better job of analyzing them than most "scholars" manage to do.

In the (special) case of Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, we do have Cimino's word that he intended a gay subtext, so there's nothing wrong with looking for visual proof of his intentions. Also nothing wrong, nothing at all, with ignoring his "intended" film altogether and just enjoying the film he actually made.

I liked Matt's earlier comment that the period the film was made in had a lot to do with the "text/subtext" business. Of course, if Cimino were making the film today, he would just come out (so to speak) and make a film about gays, rather than burying it in a "subtext." But, who would go ... that's so "old hat" by now. (As one wag put it, the "love that dare not speak its name" is now the "love that won't shut up.")

KC

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Matt
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« Reply #17 on: December 15, 2002, 10:12:10 PM »

Originally posted by AKA23, 06-30-2001 10:58 PM      

As far as I am concerned, the recognized presence or absence of any sort of homosexual subtext is wholly a matter of personal preference and interpretation. It is insulting to suggest that someone who does not agree with this interpretation, correct though it may be, is in some way exercising an error in judgement. An opinion is just that. Its an opinion and thats all that there is to it. If some of us do not recognize this subtle subtext, than that does not mean that we are "refusing to believe" in such things or that our beliefs are in some way masking some inability to deal with the social message of the acceptance of homosexuality in our society. Frankly, this statement is ludicrous. Just because I or someone else does not recognize or acknowledge something so subjective as the interpretation of the subtle character nuances of gay subtext, does not make our interpretation erroneous. I dont believe that there are right(er) and wrong(er) interpretations as you yourself state GMAT. Now, do not misunderstand my stance here, you definitely have a right to express your own personal opinion, and I respect your viewpoint but to say that someone who does not see something in a film is somehow not "connecting" with the film on such a higher level is completely ludicrous. There may be subtext of a gay nature, I am in no way denying the existence of such subtext. I personally, as well as mgk, the stranger and MattR, I hope that I do not offend the parties involved by using your names to further my own point, just do not see this subtext. Its just that simple. It is my belief that such editing shots that you describe represent circumstantial evidence at best and as the burden of proof lies on the plaintiff to prove their case, you have not satisfied the burden of proof in my personal opinion. We're not in a court of law here but in order to try to advance some viewpoint and condemn others for not believing in it, you must satisfy the burden of proof. Your editing theories, although accurately and amply substantiated by film critics, are not enough evidence to convince me, and others, of this subtext. We may be stubbornly ignorant in not seeing this "gay subtext" and we may be missing something in not recognizing it that would add another dimension to the filmgoing experience, but each persons interaction with a film is completely different and therefore, each persons interpretation, as long as it is substantiated and not given completely blindly and in the face of abundant contrary evidence, should be recognized as valid.
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« Reply #18 on: December 15, 2002, 10:14:55 PM »

Originally posted by AKA23, 06-30-2001 11:03 PM      
Yep, I completely agree with you KC! Thats all that I was trying to say. But of course, you did it much better than I ever could. As is customary with you.
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« Reply #19 on: December 15, 2002, 10:18:27 PM »

Originally posted by Matt, 06-30-2001 11:08 PM      
Note to self: Have bumper stickers, posters, signs and airplane banners printed as follows...

AKA23 for District Court Judge in 2012!

Why procrastinate when you can do it now?

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