re: Tony and Riff
Posted by: Michael_Portantiere 06:08 pm EDT 05/10/21
In reply to: re: Tony and Riff - Billhaven 05:24 pm EDT 05/10/21

The most famous example of homoerotic subtext is the playing of Ben Hur. Gore Vidal told Stephen Boyd that Masala and Ben Hur had been lovers as youths. This would give heft to the jealous and passionate feud between them. But they deliberately did NOT include Charlton Heston in these plans. Subtext can give the actor something active to play.

In that case, I think the subtext was very valuable. Apparently, it came about because Stephen Boyd rightly felt there was little or no justification for Messala suddenly turning on his boyfriend friend Ben-Hur and completely destroying his life and family. So Gore Vidal came up with the idea that Ben Hur and Messala had been lovers as added motivation for Messala to act in such an evil way when Ben Hur spurns Messala's attempt to enlist him as an ally (and implicitly to continue their relationship). Whereas I don't think any similar subtext is warranted in WEST SIDE STORY because, in that case, there's nothing lacking in any of the character's motivations.

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