VICTIM (1961) - Special screening to mark 50 years since the Sexual Offences Act
In July 1967 the Sexual Offences Act received royal ascent, decreeing that in England and Wales sex between two men over 21 “in private” was now partially decriminalised. Further changes towards equality for LGBTQ citizens took time and the road was very uneven, so the anniversary of the legislation in 2017 provokes a variety of feelings.
To mark the 50 year anniversary, Deptford Cinema will be screening a film widely seen as playing a key role in changing the national conversation of the period, one that led to the first of many pieces of legislation that started to unpick the oppressive legal system that proscribed gay life across the country. That film is Basil Dearden's 1961 taut, impassioned drama; VICTIM.
With VICTIM, star Dirk Bogarde consigned his matinee idol alter-ego to history, playing closeted, married British lawyer Melville Farr who is drawn into exposing a terrifying blackmail ring when an admirer commits suicide rather than implicate him. Supporting the recommendations of the Wolfenden Committee which advocated changing British laws on gay life, director Basil Dearden, producer Michael Relph and screenwriter Janet Green denounced the poisonous, institutionalised homophobia gay men of all classes faced whilst delivering an accessible crime-thriller to audiences of the time.
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