Jan 28, 2018

Steve Cochran: All Man

The Internet Movie Database tells us that Steve Cochran (1917-1965) was "all man," by which they mean "not gay." As evidence:
1. He grew up in Wyoming
2. He was kicked off his college basketball team for hanging out with  ladies.
3. He worked as a cowboy before getting his start in Hollywood.
4. He had a very, very, very hairy chest.
5. He had a very, very, very large penis (ok, that one's not from the IMDB).
6. He mostly played villains and gangsters.
7. He had sex with lots of  ladies.

8. He was married three times.
9. He died while on a boating trip with an all-girl crew.

#1-9 don't necessarily require heterosexual identity. And there's more:

The Chase (1945). He plays Eddie Roman, a gangster who is betrayed by his chauffeur/gunsel Chuck Scott (Bob Cummings).

White Heat (1949): He plays Big Ed, the sidekick/gunsel who betrays volatile boyfriend Cody (James Cagney).

Private Hell 36 (1954): detective buddies (Steve, Howard Duff, top photo) steal money, and count it while shirtless. The headless lady is Ida Lupino.

I haven't seen any of Steve's other films, but film noir often included a hint of homoerotic desire between the gangsters.

Then there's The Beat Generation (1959), which has nothing to do with the literary movement of Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg; in search of a serial rapist, detective Steve immerses himself in the seedy, decadent, gay-vague world of the Beatniks.  Sort of like Al Pacino's descent into the "gay world" in  Cruising twenty years later.

Even someone who is "all man" invariably has a gay subtext or two somewhere in his career.


  1. I presume you know the real meaning of gunsel, right? (I actually learned it watching the Batman cartoon. The Joker speaks Yiddish, and yes, he refers to a henchman he thinks betrayed him as a gunsel. Watching The Maltese Falcon many years later was, oh, I know what this means.)

    TBH, I expect the more macho types to have more of a gay following,

    1. I know what gunsel means, but I didn't know that it was used in a Batman cartoon. The Joker in the tv series was played by Cesar Romero, who claimed to have had sex with Burt Ward and Adam West, not to mention Desi Arnaz Jr. and Sr.

  2. White Heat has no homo erotic component between Cochran and Cagney.....Cochran was after Virginia Mayo and her after Cochran.....the relationship is between Cagney and his mother and that drives the movie

    1. A heteronormative primary plot doesn't preclude the possibility of a gay subtext. Most movies of that era, actually most movies of any era since the silents, have a man and woman falling in love. You get the subtexts between and under all that.

  3. You should see him with Rock Hudson in Back To God's Country - bisexual sparks fly every time he is on screen with Hugh O'Brien - woof.


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