Yesterdy, a posting on Michael Ontkean, who I’ve been re-watching in Twin Peaks, but who also played the central role in the 1982 movie Making Love — which led me to an earlier film with a similar plot device (a love triangle with a gay twist), 1971’s Sunday Bloody Sunday, and to reflect on three-person relationships — a subject of great interest to me, since I spent about eight years in a married triple.
The relationship in Making Love is of the sort often referred to as a love triangle, and though three people are involved, they are not connected in pairs: instead of a triangle, the relationship would be diagrammed as an inverted V, a caret, or (as I’ll say here) a tent, with one person at the apex:
Zack is romantically (and sexually) involved with both Claire and Bart, but the other two aren’t involved with one another, except as rivals for Zack.
Wikipedia on Sunday Bloody Sunday:
Sunday Bloody Sunday is a 1971 British drama film written by Penelope Gilliatt, directed by John Schlesinger and starring Murray Head, Glenda Jackson, Peter Finch and Peggy Ashcroft. It tells the story of a free-spirited young bisexual artist (played by Head) and his simultaneous relationships with a female recruitment consultant (Jackson) and a male Jewish doctor (Finch).
The film is significant for its time in that Finch’s homosexual character is depicted as successful and relatively well-adjusted, and not particularly upset by his sexuality. In this sense, Sunday Bloody Sunday was a considerable departure from Schlesinger’s previous film Midnight Cowboy, which had portrayed its gay characters as alienated and self-loathing, as well as other gay-themed films of the era, including Boys in the Band, and Some of My Best Friends Are….
The film makes extensive use of source music including a recurring motif of the trio Soave sia il vento from Mozart’s opera Così fan tutte.
Finch, Head, Jackson
SBS is a marvelous movie, also a landmark in film in English because of its famous kiss between Finch and Head, the first romantic kiss between men in a major studio production:
You can watch the whole scene here. (Some people in audiences at the time were revolted by the scene: they gagged audibly and stormed out of the theater. The critics mostly liked it at the time, and soon it was being hailed as a masterpiece.)
Digression on SBS, just because I like it so much; there’s so much to talk about, but here are a few notes. The film dwells a lot on a piece of Bob’s art, a big shimmering construction of transparent tubes, seen here in a still:
And then there’s the achingly beautiful Mozart tercetto. You can watch a performance here by Renée Fleming, Thomas Hampson, and Susan Graham. The words:
Glenda Jackson and Peter Finch are very well-known actors, Murray Head not so. From Wikipedia:
Murray Seafield Saint-George Head (born 5 March 1946) is an English actor and singer, most recognised for his international hit songs “Superstar” (from the 1970 rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar) and “One Night in Bangkok” (the 1984 single from the musical Chess, which topped the charts in various countries), and for his 1975 album Say It Ain’t So. [His brother Anthony Head played Rupert Giles in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.]
Finally, on a personal note, a posting (lightly edited here) to the Usenet newsgroup soc.motss on 3/1/03, eight years after Ann Daingerfield Zwicky died and a couple of months before Jacques Transue, then barely in the world, was to die (we were an actual romantic and sexual triangle with, I suppose, me at the apex):
So I watched Sunday Bloody Sunday again last night, for the umpteenth time, and once again broke up at the end, when the Peter Finch character speaks into the camera and explains what he was looking for when he fell in love with the Murray Head character. …
He speaks into the camera and says, “I only wanted someone courageous
And I weep. For the Peter Finch character, and for the Glenda Jackson character, both of whom want this, but who instead get the Murray Head character, who’s attractive and talented and congenial, but who is, unlike them, alas, neither courageous nor resourceful.
And I weep for myself, missing my man Jacques, who was both courageous and resourceful, impressively so, and also missing the other men I have loved, who were signally decent. Yes, each of them was a hot guy (each in his own way), but it would never have worked if they hadn’t been good men, seriously good men.
I miss this desperately. I stare into the camera and say… “I only wanted…”
Love triangles in the straight world. Both in real life and in the worlds of fiction, straight people are massively given to attractions to more than one person at a time. While I’m on film, let’s go on to another classic. From Wikipedia:
Jules and Jim (French: Jules et Jim) is a 1962 French romantic drama film, directed, produced and written by François Truffaut. Set around the time of World War I, it describes a tragic love triangle involving French Bohemian Jim (Henri Serre), his shy Austrian friend Jules (Oskar Werner), and Jules’s girlfriend and later wife Catherine (Jeanne Moreau).
One woman, two men (though the men are friends rather than distant rivals). On to one man, two women (again, friends) — still classic, but this time in the comics:
Betty, Archie, Veronica
Betty and Veronica (also known as Archie’s Girls Betty and Veronica) is an ongoing comic book series published by Archie Comics focusing on “best friends and worst enemies” Betty Cooper and Veronica Lodge. Betty first appeared in Pep Comics #22 while Veronica made her debut a few months later, in Pep #26, as an immediate rival to Betty for Archie’s affections. Together the pair form the female part of the classic love triangle which has become a staple of the comic series since 1942.
Straights do it, gays do it too. From the tv series Glee, this tent:
and a display of the three:
Gustin, Criss, Cofer
On Glee, and on Criss specifically, see this 10/4/16 posting.
Gay threesomes — some tents, some true triangles — are not uncommon in real life.
From threesomes to three-ways. All the threesomes so far are relationships, not merely encounters. But in fact, pick-up sexual encounters — three-ways — also occur with some frequency, both for swinging straights and for tricking gays, in porn and even in real life. From publicity for gay porn, this brief description of a compilation flick from Lucas Kazan Productions (2001-06) entitled, rather grandly and misleadingly, The Love Triangle: “Three’s not a crowd… it’s a love triangle. Director Lucas Kazan handpicks six unforgettable threesomes featuring fourteen stunning men for you to enjoy.” The DVD cover:
Yes, 6 threesomes (actually, three-ways), 14 men, so some of these guys are doing at least double duty on the triple-love patrol. Well, they’re vigorous Eastern European studs.