16
THE MURDEROUS GAYS: HITCHCOCK'S HOMOPHOBIA

It has been often noted that the figure of the psychopath that recurs throughout Hitchcock's work is sometimes coded (with more or less explicitness) as gay (or in one case lesbian). There is the "half-caste" transvestite of Murder!; the two young murderers of Rope; Mrs. Danvers, of whose (presumably late) husband we learn nothing, in Rebecca; Bruno Anthony in Strangers on a Train. Some have sought, with far less incontrovertible evidence, to extend the list to include the Uncle Charlie of Shadow of a Doubt and Norman Bates; in which case we may as well add the Bob Rusk of Frenzy. These latter instances seem to rest upon little except popular (and generally discredited) heterosexist mythology: one is probably gay if one shows traces of effeminacy, had a close relationship with one's mother, or hates and murders women. However, in questioning whether the term "gay" is applicable to all of these characters, I don't wish to suggest that they are not all closely interlinked, or that they don't relate to some permanent component of the Hitchcock psyche (as embodied in the films), of which both repressed homosexuality and its inevitable corollary homophobia may form a significant part.

It is necessary at this point to make explicit certain assumptions (which, deriving from the Freudian psychoanalytical tradition, are not unarguable or universally accepted, though I personally find them convincing) which will form the basis of the argument I wish to build. They will already be familiar to my readers (notably from the essay on Raging Bull in Hollywood from Vietnam to Reagan); I apologize for the repetition, but cannot take the familiarity for granted. What is at issue here is

-336-

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Hitchcock's Films Revisited
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction - (1988) 1
  • Book One - Hitchcock's Films 53
  • 1 - Introduction (1965) 55
  • 2 - Strangers on a Train 86
  • 3 - Rear Window 100
  • 4 - Vertigo 108
  • 5 - North by Northwest 131
  • 6 - Psycho 142
  • 7 - The Birds 152
  • 8 - Marnie 173
  • 9 - Torn Curtain 198
  • 10 - Retrospective (1977) 206
  • Endnotes for Earlier Editions 229
  • Book Two - Hitchcock's Films Revisited 237
  • 11 - Plot Formations 239
  • 12 - Symmetry, Closure, Disruption: the Ambiguity of Blackmail 249
  • 13 - Norms and Variations: the 39 Steps and Young and Innocent 275
  • 14 - Ideology, Genre, Auteur (1976) 288
  • 15 - Star and Auteur: Hitchcock's Films with Bergman 303
  • 16 - The Murderous Gays: Hitchcock's Homophobia 336
  • 17 - The Men Who Knew Too Much (and the Women Who Knew Much Better) 358
  • 18 - Male Desire, Male Anxiety: the Essential Hitchcock 371
  • Bibliography 389
  • Index 391
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