Posted on October 3, 2010


Basil Deardon’s film 1961 Victim seems hopelessly dated, with its theme of blackmail and desperate coverups (then again, considering recent problems with cyberbullying, maybe not – it’s hard not to look for parallels between the character Boy Barrett, who commits suicide in the film, and the recent case of Tyler Clementi.) But it was the first English-language film to use the word “homosexual” for which it was banned in the U.S.

Dirk Bogarde, who stars in the film, was a hugely popular star in Britain at the time and apparently accepted the role without hesitation (James Mason and Stewart Granger turned it down), which is or maybe isn’t surprising, considering that Bogarde was most certainly gay. The film is melodramatic but is nonetheless very clear in its message that laws against homosexuality should be stricken from the books in England and Wales. Which they were a mere six years later in 1967- more than 35 years before the U.S. followed suit with Lawrence v. Texas in 2003!

The film has a page on IMDB here. Bogarde’s autobiography covering his years in film is called Snakes and Ladders.