Nov 28, 2016

Dean Stockwell: Gay Subtexts and Homophobic Texts

In a career spanning 65 years, Dean Stockwell has played everything, from cute kid to elderly statesman, including many projects with homoromances and/or homophobia.

As a boy:

1. The Boy with Green Hair (1948), a classic tale of the impact of being different in the ultra-conformist Cold War era.

2. Kim (1950), a retelling of the Kipling book about a teenage secret agent in colonial India, who gets a rather overt crush on adventurer Mahbub Ali (Errol Flynn).









As a young man:

3. Compulsion (1959), Alfred Hitchcock's homophobic thriller about gay murderers, loosely based on the 1920s Leopold-Loeb case.  Judd Steiner (Dean) and Artie Stein (Bradford Dilman) kill a young boy for fun.  Dean was also in the Broadway play, opposite Roddy McDowell.

4. Sons and Lovers (1960).  An adaption of the D. H. Lawrence novel. A boy in love with his mother (a 1950s trope for "gay") finds mature hetero-romance with a woman.

5. Psych-Out (1968).  Dean (right) has a small part as a hippie who grooves on Jack Nicholson.

6. The Loners (1972).  A hippie couple, Stein (Dean) and Alan (Todd Sussman), plus a girl, are on the lam after killing a cop.  In 1972, this meant that they were counterculture heroes.




In middle age:

7. Blue Velvet (1986).  He plays Ben, the prissy gay psychopath who is holding Dorothy's son hostage, and orchestrates the various characters' attempts to seduce and destroy each other.

8. Quantum Leap (1989-93). Dean played Al, the holographic mentor/best buddy of time-slipping scientist Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula). There were two homophobic episodes.

9. Rites of Passage (1989).  A homophobic father (Dean) inadvertently pushes his son into the arms of a psycho killer.

With all the homophobic texts and homoromantic subtexts, it was difficult to determine if Dean is an ally or an enemy.  His biography doesn't say, but it does point out that in the 1970s he tried to avoid the draft by pretending to be gay.