If anyone wanted to know why West Germans have been denied the sight of It Is Not The Homosexual Who Is Perverse But The Situation In Which He Lives, a couple of showings the movie got at the London’s National Film showed that it’s probably for the good of gays in Germany and also for the majority of the TV audience, which is, presumably, heterosexual.
There are quite a few Germans and if they believed that gays lived a form of Rake’s Progress (or should it be The Three-penny Opera?) as it was portrayed in this movie they might do everything they could to make sure that Amendment 175 of the constitution of West Germany, which makes homosexual acts legal among legal consenting adult males, and all that stuff.
The NFT showed the movie on two successive nights, and on both nights they got a full house (it’s probably the first time the NFT’s commissionaire has ever seen a queue) and although Volker Eschge, the assistant director wasn’t allowed to finish his piece which tended to go on and on, by shouts of boredom from the audience, no-one who missed Herr Eschge’s summation of the director Rosa von Praunheim – who’s male, by the way – missed much.
On the second night, either the audience was more tolerant or Herr Eschge had severely curtailed his speech on the relevance of Marxism to a sexual revolution.
The important bit he said was that the movie was shot as a simulated documentary about 1967 and planned as far back as the first stirrings of the USA Gay Liberation Movement – the riots in the Greenwich Village Stonewall. Which put the movie into perspective. Even if no-one was admitting it, it was made as a piece of pro-gay propaganda made to show how society forced the homosexual into a degrading life-style.
As Derek Malcolm said in the post-movie discussion after its second showing: “It shows that Rosa von Praunheim knows nothing about the gay scene.”
Whether Mr Malcolm, who writes about movies for The Guardian, knows all that much about the gay scene is immaterial, largely because he found the movie’s fundamental flaw. Every scene looked like a cheap back-of-the-lot Hollywood Western set. Cheap fittings with any little bits of effort put into it so hard they stuck out a mile.
It’s true that this sort of garish gay scene did exist before Amendment 175 was passed. At a time when German gays were totally disorganised. So the movie preaches that they should join their local groups and become militant gays, equating sexual and social revolution with a political revolution.
It’s true that you can’t have the former without the latter, but the unprocessed propaganda that the movie came out with was more likely to get the millions of German gays retreating into their closets with their Bullworkers, iron crosses and elevator shoes, as well as turning the majority of society against gays.
It Is Not The Homosexual… followed one Daniel on the broad path through the bar scene, the rent scene, and, after freaking out of leather, and into drag to being talked at by six well-meaning nude gentlemen who were doing all they could to cover their naughty parts.
The plan of the movie is probably – it’s not so obvious as to be able to say that this is what it’s about definitely – the degradation of Daniel through his contact with the Berlin gay world. Unfortunately the only English language print was made for showing in the USA, so we had a lot of references to ‘faggots’, ‘leather-freaks’ etc. And that sort of categorising doesn’t do anyone any good.
During this scene there was a mysterious large bottle of Coca-Cola being passed from one end of the group to another.
So, basically, It Is Not The Homosexual… is about another time, another place and none of it is helped by the fact that it’s made with all the expertise of a ten-year-old psychopath turned loose with a Super-8 camera and a roll of Kodachrome II.
Herr von Praunheim won’t let the movie be shown unless there’s a discussion after it. So George Melly tried to get people discussing the movie one at a time on the first night the movie was shown.
Come the second night and Mr Melly (of The Observer) had been replaced – according to plan – by Mr Malcolm, Roger Baker of CHE by Bernard Greaves of CHE and Denis Lemon of Gay News by your faithful reporter.
Regrettably the movie is to be shown at last on German TV in January. Pity really, as the direction and the acting are both so wooden as to make Crossroads look like a masterpiece of movie-making.