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Advise & Consent

Advise & Consent

By Patrick Samuel • January 7th, 2014
Static Mass Rating: 4/5
Columbia Pictures

Original release: June 6th, 1962
Running time: 139 minutes

Director: Otto Preminger
Writer: Wendell Mayes, Allen Drury

Cast: Laughton, Don Murray, Walter Pidgeon, Peter Lawford, Gene Tierney, Paul Ford, George Grizzard

Advise And Consent

There was a time, not so long ago, when homosexuality was a word you couldn’t speak in conversation, write in books or mention in films. The love between two men or two women was something that couldn’t be accepted in any way or form by society, and yet it hadn’t always been like this. Ancient Greece, Rome, China and India, for example, embraced these facets of human sexuality long before our LGBT and Stonewall movements in the late part of the 20th century, and even today there’s still an uneasy acceptance that can be traced back to hundreds of years of conditioning by religious institutions, arbitrary laws and social structure.

This, together with the onslaught of propaganda that’s taught in schools and peddled through the media, has resulted in the average person feeling and thinking that anything to do with homosexuality must have negative connotations, and often link it together with other things we fear, don’t understand or simply have no wish to accept into our lives. There’s acceptance, and the word “tolerance” is one I often hear, but at times I feel homosexuality is simply put up with because it’s politically correct to do so, rather than being understood as a part of human nature.

Yet to see it presented in a 1962 American film, with a star-studded cast, comes as a surprise, but like so many films, the homosexuality that’s embedded in the tightly woven narrative, comes across more as a tragic and cautionary tale than a life-affirming message. Directed by Otto Preminger and based on the novel of the same name by Allen Drury, published in 1959, its story centers on Brigham Anderson (Don Murray), a family man who gets drawn into the lengthy legal proceedings involving the Senate’s investigation into the President’s newly nominated Secretary of State. The investigation goes on to uncover many secrets for all those concerned.

Advise And Consent

Though the film, set in Washington, is quite dense with legal terms (its title alone derives from the United States Constitution’s Article II, Sec. 2, cl. 2, which provides that the President of the United States “shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the Supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States”), its underlining story is what I found intriguing.

As Brigham’s affair is revealed during the course of the film, we see him gradually becoming a broken man. His once happy life is now troubled with a secret that he’s trying hard for the world and his wife not to learn, and we know it’s inevitable. It’s almost as if in movies like these the characters have to pay penance for their crimes/sins, sometimes with their life.

Like Victim (1961), notable for being the first English language film to use the word “homosexual”, which saw barrister Melville Farr (Dirk Bogarde) blackmailed over an affair with another man, and The Children’s Hour (1961), which depicted the turmoil that Martha Dobie (Shirley MacLaine) and Karen Wright (Audrey Hepburn) Advise And Consentfaced when rumours of a lesbian affair began to circulate, Advise & Consent was a film that seemed to pushed censorship boundaries, not just by alluding to a married senator’s homosexual affair, but also by taking us into a gay bar. This was the first mainstream American movie after WWII to have such a scene, but to see it in the film’s context, it’s actually quite frightening. As Brigham enters the bar, those inside all turn and look up at him and there’s something almost predatory about it, it’s chilling.

But have movies changed over the years in how they reflect on homosexual themes? That’s a difficult question to answer as it tends to vary from director to director, but for the most part it is possible to have gay characters in mainstream movies that aren’t the villains, source of comedy or the tragic figure. In saying that though, they still haven’t managed to bring us the credible non-stereotypical gay or lesbian character as a main character, which means mainstream cinema still has a long way to go, as do mainstream audiences, before we see them as action heroes, romantic leads, the sole survivor of a horror movie or living their lives happily ever after.

Advise And Consent

Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is an emerging artist with a philosophy degree, working primarily with pastels and graphite pencils, but he also enjoys experimenting with water colours, acrylics, glass and oil paints.

Being on the autistic spectrum with Asperger’s Syndrome, he is stimulated by bold, contrasting colours, intricate details, multiple textures, and varying shades of light and dark. Patrick's work extends to sound and video, and when not drawing or painting, he can be found working on projects he shares online with his followers.

Patrick returned to drawing and painting after a prolonged break in December 2016 as part of his daily art therapy, and is now making the transition to being a full-time artist. As a spokesperson for autism awareness, he also gives talks and presentations on the benefits of creative therapy.

Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and science fiction, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.

Patrick Samuel ¦ Asperger Artist

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