Censored gay sex scenes in From Here to Eternity revealed
Daughter of author James Jones discloses details of cuts insisted upon by the novel's original publisher
* Alison Flood | * guardian.co.uk, Friday 13 November 2009
It is one of the most celebrated images in cinema, an icon of heterosexual romance: Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr kissing as the waves crash over them in the 1953 film From Here to Eternity. But behind the Hollywood gloss is a tale of censorship and repression, with the author of the award-winning novel on which the film was based forced to remove scenes of gay sex from the manuscript before publication.
Kaylie Jones, a novelist in her own right, says her father, James Jones, was told by his publisher Scribner to eliminate both expletives and homosexual scenes in From Here to Eternity, which was based on his own experiences in Hawaii in the army on the eve of the Pearl Harbour bombing.
The original manuscript of From Here to Eternity went into "great detail" about the kinds of sexual favours soldiers like Private Angelo Maggio, played in the film by Frank Sinatra, would provide to rich gay men for money, Kaylie Jones revealed in an article written for US news website the Daily Beast.
"'I don't like to be blowed [by a man]'," the novel's hero Private Robert E Lee Prewitt tells Maggio in a section cut from the novel. "Angelo shrugged," writes James Jones. "'Oh, all right. I admit it's nothing like a woman. But it's something. Besides, old Hal treats me swell. He's always good for a touch when I'm broke. Five bucks. Ten bucks. Comes in handy the middle of the month ... Only reason I let Hal blow me is because I got a good thing there. If I turned him down I'd blow it sky high. And I want to hang onto that income, buddy.'"
James Jones, she wrote, "believed that homosexuality was as old as mankind itself, and that Achilles, the bravest and most venerated fighter ever described, was gay, and to take a younger lover under your wing was a common practice among the soldiers of the time". "He also believed also that homosexuality was a natural condition of men in close quarters, and that it in no way affected a soldier's capabilities on the battlefield. What would have amazed him is that the discussion still continues to this day, cloaked in the same hypocrisy and silence as it was 60 years ago," she wrote. The US military's current "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy allows gay men and lesbians to serve only if they keep quiet about their sexuality. President Obama has previously announced his intention to revoke the rule, but for the moment it remains in force.
It's time for Eternity to be Here, Mr. President.
Let the women and men in the US military "ask" and "tell" . . . .
H/T Penelope ;-)