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Wonkette Movie Night: The Haunting (1963)
"You may not believe in ghosts, but you cannot deny terror."
Hi Movie Night fans!
Wonkette Movie Night has always been about one thing really, approximately two hours to not think about the horrors of the real world. To get back what has been drained away during the week so you don't get swallowed up by the bad shit. Because those awful people we see and hear about doing harm to others really don't need any more victims.
It's ok to watch a movie, it's ok to laugh with friends. It's just a couple hours, the fight will still be there when the credits are rolling at the end of the movie. And you will be ready to keep fighting whatever your fight may be. The ugly in the world will not get worse if you stop thinking about it for a short while. Think of Wonkette Movie Night as your reward for making it to Saturday! Your weekly cinematic therapy session that is also fun.
A scary movie like tonight's selection can allow you to feel fear while knowing you are safe, so you can enjoy it, like riding a roller coaster. And The Haunting is like hopping on The Cyclone in Coney Island and thinking it's old, how scary can it be? Then you see that first hill, and in this case it's Hill House.
You get past that first drop and then it zips you through turns and twists.
One twist is in the character Theodora who is a lesbian, but not portrayed as one typical for movies at that time. Lesbians were often shown as aggressive butches or sex objects for men.
Originally I had planned to write about lesbian characters in movies that weren't tired tropes or ugly characterizations, like Theodora in this movie. So I did what I always do, googled it, looking for a list of characters and I couldn't really find them. Invisible most of the time, like the ghosts in The Haunting. And it appeared that many of the films from newer times fell into two categories, either Victorian era awkward glance/hand touching types of lesbian affection or 20 something's full of passion. It seems one thing filmmakers could agree on though, lesbians always be falling in love!
Julie Harris mentioned that film censors had said that Theodora shouldn't be shown touching Eleanor, basically because the lesbianism in the movie needed to be nearly invisible.
Theo to Eleanor early in the movie:
Why don't you put on one of your new things? Something that will stand out. I think it's always a good idea around here to remain strictly visible.
From LIFE magazine, Aug. 30, 1963, by Dora Jane Hamblin:
Some friends of mine went to see The Haunting, taking along their purses and their white gloves, their glasses and their cigaretes. During the course of the movie they jumped in and out of their seats and each other's laps so many times out of sheer terror that it took 15 minutes after the lights went on to sort their belongings...
When they all had their own gloves and glasses back they judged the film "wonderful."
Starring Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Richard Johnson, Russ Tamblin and Rosalie Crutchley. Directed by Robert Wise and based on the book by Shirley Jackson, The Haunting Of Hill House.
The Haunting is available on the Internet Archive, Max with subscription and for $2.99 in most of the usual places. So get your snacks, turn off the lights and settle in for a good scare. And if you are daring, raise your arms when we go down the big hill.
A little something I wrote for sexual assault survivors who are probably fighting their own demons dealing with the current world news.
To make movie requests, see the list of watched movies and the calendar go here.
And so you can find your movies in advance, I'm trying to get the calendars out a little earlier(available on WonkMovie and my Substack.) Here's November(and I'm already working on December), drumroll please!
Our pre-movie cartoon is the Academy Award winning So Much For So Little (1949.) From Warner Bros Cartoons(Looney Tunes), directed by Chuck Jones and Friz Freleng. It's basically about some crazy ideas like if every American chipped in three cents a week we all could have vaccinations, clean water, proper nutrition, regular dental, eye and hearing care, caring for the disabled and people into their old age!