Cinema: A Plea for Perversion?

Cinema: A Plea for Perversion?
Victim , a British picture that the Johnston
office has found “thematically objectionable,” elaborates a startling
statistic: in nine out of ten cases of blackmail in Britain, the victim
is a homosexual. Why? The answer, as provided by a speech in the
script: “A law which sends homosexuals to prison”—as
Britain's does—”is a charter for blackmail.” As the film
begins, a young homosexual who has robbed his employer
to pay his extortionist is caught by the police. Rather than implicate
the eminent barrister with whom he is emotionally
involved, the boy commits suicide. Deeply
shocked, the lawyer resolves to break up the extortion racket, even if
he has to risk his marriage and wreck his career.Victim has a neat plot, deft direction by Basil Dearden, and the sort of
grum good manners one expects of the British in these trying
situations. It also has a careful performance by Bogarde, and it
pursues with eloquence and conviction the case against an antiquated
statute.But what seems at first an attack on extortion seems at last a coyly
sensational exploitation of homosexuality as a theme —and, what's more
offensive, an implicit approval of homosexuality as a practice.Almost all the deviates in the film are fine fellows—well dressed, well
spoken, sensitive, kind. The only one who acts like an overt invert
turns out to be a detective.Everybody in the picture who disapproves of homosexuals proves to be an
ass, a dolt or a sadist. Nowhere does the film suggest that
homosexuality is a serious neurosis that attacks
the biological basis of life itself. “I can't help the way I
am,” says one of the sodomites in this movie. “Nature played
me a dirty trick.” And the scriptwriters, whose psychiatric
information is clearly coeval with the statute they dispute, accept
this sick-silly self-delusion as a medical fact.