The Victim

1961 British Drama
with Dirk Bogarde

Connie's Presentations and Links


Dirk Bogarde

The British Rock Hudson

Roger Ebert's Great Movies review of Victim

Case Study: Victim by Chris Jones in Introduction to Film Studies, 4th Edition

Dirk Bogarde: Denial and daring...a star with a secret never told in The Independent (U.K.)

Victim: No Way Out by Michael Koresky (as pdf document) (as Microsoft Word Document)

Example of some of the attitudes surrounding Victim when it came out (Part 1) (Part 2)

Scott's Handouts and Clips

British Film Institute interview with Peter McEnery ("Boy" Barrett) and Silvia Syms (Farr's wife Laura) in 2010 about Dirk Bogarde and Victim

Common Conceptions of LGBT People (timeline)

LGBT Self Perceptions (timeline)

Alfred Hitchcock's Gay? Characters

Transvestite murderer's circus act at the end of the movie, about 1 minute long

In this early Hitchcock film from England, the murderer is a transvestite circus performer. Although we can't assume that Hitchcock was coding a transvestite as a homosexual, many movie goers back then probably would have conflated the two.
Compare with the final movie on this list below.

The Lady Vanishes
Caldicott and Charters, the core gay scenes with the Swedish maid, about 7 minutes long

Caldicott and Charters are absolutely delightful -- probably the first positive gay couple in movie history. There is little doubt in what Hitchcock was doing -- look at their reaction when the Swedish maid starts flirting with them. Also, they are shown together in a very small bed, one of them without pajamas (the pajama bottoms are hanging on the wall). Moreover, they are totally accepted as a couple by the other characters in the movie, and they act heroically at the end. As usual, Hitchcock was having a grand time playing around with his characters and his audience.

All of the Caldicott and Charter scenes, about 17 minutes long

All of the lingerie scene, as seen in The Celluloid Closet, about 5 minutes long

Typical of the portrayal of lesbians at the time, Mrs. Danvers is an evil, dowdy spinster. However, Hitchcock goes beyond the simplistic stereotype and makes her into a truly creepy villain, and sneaks the lesbian sexuality past the censors with a skill that no other director could even aspire to.

Complete Mrs. Danvers scenes, about 23 minutes long

Murder as Orgasm, about 3 minutes long

They may not have talked about it on the set, but Hitchcock and his actors certainly knew what they were doing in these two scenes. Turning the light on and then off, having a cigarette (after sex), all the playing around with the champagne bottle and cork, feeling "tremendously exhilarated", and the way they talk are the codes.

Strangers on a Train
Bruno seduces Guy Haines, as seen in The Celluloid Closet, plus Bruno with his mother, and fight at end, about 4 minutes long total

Most current Hitchcock commentators accept Bruno as a coded gay character. He "seduces" Guy Haines at the beginning of the movie. Also, Bruno is overly attached to his mother (Freud), and wears an extravagant house robe (Oscar Wilde) -- both cues for "homosexual". Some commentators even see the brief scene at the end when Bruno and Guy are fighting on top of each other on the carousel as a code for gay sex.

North by Northwest
The two possible gay references about Leonard in the house scene, about 1 1/2 minute long

The evidence that Leonard is gay is very slight, but still significant because Hitchcock was always aware of the implications and subtleties in his movies. Leonard mentions his "woman's intuition", and then the James Mason character says that Leonard is "jealous", something he finds delightful. Both references are in the clip above. All the scenes with Leonard are contained in the clip below, without any other specific indications that he is gay.

All of the scenes with Leonard, about 27 minutes long

Norman Bates as his mother, about 1 minute

Another killer transvestite. It's doubtful that Hitchcock was coding Norman Bates as homosexual. He is probably just your run-of-the-mill Hitchcockian psycho.

In the Closet - Gay and Lesbian Portrayals in Movies Before the Stonewall Riots (1969)

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Connie Hossier, Instructor
Scott Badman, Instructor