Author Topic: Leonardo DiCaprio and Armie Hammer as lovers Hoover and Tolson in "J. Edgar"  (Read 22919 times)

Offline Aloysius J. Gleek

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“Words are mere man-given symbols for thoughts and feelings, and they are grossly insufficient to express the thoughts in my mind and the feelings in my heart that I have for you,” Hoover wrote to Tolson in 1943. “I hope I will always have you beside me.”





http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/life_and_art/2011/11/clint_eastwood_s_j_edgar_were_j_edgar_hoover_and_clyde_tolson_lovers_.single.html


Internal Affairs
Were J. Edgar Hoover and Clyde Tolson lovers?
By Beverly Gage
Posted Thursday, Nov. 10, 2011, at 1:21 PM ET



Clyde Tolson and J. Edgar Hoover never openly acknowledged a sexual or romantic
relationship/Photograph courtesy UCLA Library.

 

In one of the climactic moments of the new film J. Edgar,  a thirtysomething J. Edgar Hoover reveals his plans to take a wife. The scene unfolds in a New York hotel suite, where Hoover has reserved adjoining rooms with Clyde Tolson, his second-in-command at the FBI. Tolson responds with rage to his boss’s news, throwing a temper tantrum at odds with his typically polished demeanor. The argument soon escalates into a fistfight, then into the film’s single most sexual moment: a bloody kiss between the director and associate director of the FBI.

There is no evidence that this fight—much less the kiss—ever took place. What we know about the relationship between Hoover and Tolson comes mostly from the public record: meals together twice a day, joint vacations, a final burial place just a few yards apart. Their interior and sexual lives remain mostly a matter of speculation. Despite daunting research efforts by journalists and historians, we can say little more today than we could four or five decades ago: Hoover and Tolson had a marriage of sorts. But what sort of marriage was it?
 
J. Edgar’ s scriptwriter, Dustin Lance Black, had the luxury of imagining the answer to this question, depicting Hoover and Tolson’s relationship as a tragic precursor to today’s sanctioned gay marriages. The film focuses on their interpersonal drama, conjuring up intimate dinner-table powwows and anguished personal struggles. (For the record: Yes, Hoover loved his mama. No, there is no evidence that he put on her necklace and dress in the hours after her death.)

And yet it is Hoover and Tolson’s public life—the stuff we do know about—that is ultimately the most fascinating part of their story. They never openly acknowledged a sexual or romantic relationship. At the same time, they demanded—and received—a level of respect for their partnership that seems almost unthinkable in pre-Stonewall society. For some four decades, the crème de la crème of political America treated them as a recognized couple; when Edgar was invited to dinner, so was Clyde. We don’t have to make up their most intimate scenes to find a relationship worth exploring.
 
Hoover and Tolson met sometime in the late 1920s—perhaps, though not definitively, at the Mayflower Hotel bar as suggested in one of J. Edgar’ s early scenes. In early 1928, Tolson signed on as a Bureau agent, one of many handsome young George Washington fraternity men recruited in Hoover’s early days as director. His career took off immediately. By 1931, Tolson was assistant director of the Bureau, charged with enforcing Hoover’s famously nitpicking internal policies.

Swift promotion was not particularly unique at the early Bureau; when Hoover found men he liked, he brought them up fast. What made Tolson stand out was the highly public friendship he soon developed with his boss. By the mid-1930s, Tolson was at Hoover’s side for every major Washington outing, from Bureau baseball games to White House affairs. As the FBI gained fame for running down kidnappers and bank robbers (a story rendered almost wholly out of chronological sequence in J. Edgar ), Tolson usually accompanied Hoover to New York as well. There, they became fixtures of gossip columnist Walter Winchell’s rarefied Stork Club circle, hobnobbing with the likes of boxer Jack Dempsey and Broadway author Damon Runyon. On one fairly typical night in 1935, they joined Winchell in the press section at a Dempsey fight only to end the evening watching a brawl involving Ernest Hemingway.

Their own brawl in J. Edgar  takes places sometime during this period, evoking the erotically charged world of café society as a backdrop for Hoover and Tolson’s grand confrontation. Many of the scene’s other elements are similarly based in fact. Hoover did have a headline-grabbing and certainly false romance with film star Dorothy Lamour, his candidate for wifehood in J. Edgar.  He also had a rumored—and equally unlikely—affair with Ginger Rogers’ mother Lela, depicted as the confident older woman trying to muscle Hoover onto the dance floor in one of the film’s nightclub scenes.

For the most part, though, Hoover simply opted out of the marriage-and-children game. He loved to give advice on the subject, publishing preachy newspaper columns and speeches on “The Parent Problem” and “The Man I Want My Son To Be.” But he never seriously entertained the idea of starting a family, and his few dates with women seem to be nothing more than a nod to social convention. In retrospect, it seems astonishing how little he actually did to maintain a heterosexual facade. From his first moments at the Bureau, he surrounded himself with young men, and his loyalties never wavered.

This produced the predictable Washington gossip. As early as the 1930s, local columnists had begun to titter about Hoover’s “mincing step” and fondness for natty suits. By the late 1960s, at least one congressman was allegedly threatening to out Hoover and Tolson on the House floor, retaliation for unrelated backroom shenanigans. Hoover could be merciless in such situations. Throughout his career, he regularly sent FBI agents to track down citizens unwise enough to suggest that he was “queer.” He also cooperated in the postwar Lavender Scare, when hundreds of gay men and women lost their federal jobs as security risks. (Oddly, J. Edgar  entirely skips this period of Hoover’s life, despite its jaw-droppingly rich sexual complexity.)

Hoover’s attempts to strong-arm his critics fit our image of him as a ruthless power-monger, and of the pre-Stonewall era as a time of brutal anti-gay repression. Far more difficult to reconcile with this image is the acceptance that Hoover and Tolson seemed to find—at exactly the same time—in the highest reaches of New York and Washington society. Despite the rumors of their homosexuality, they conducted a vibrant and open social partnership throughout their years together, accepting joint dinner invitations, attending family functions, even signing the occasional thank-you note together.

Friends and political associates knew to treat them as a bona fide couple. In the 1930s, for instance, Hoover and Tolson hit the town with Broadway star Ethel Merman and Stork Club owner Sherman Billingsley, busy conducting their own illicit affair. By the 1950s, the two men were double-dating with Dick and Pat Nixon, whom Hoover had met while pursuing the case against Alger Hiss. “I did want to drop you this personal note to let you know how sorry Clyde and I are that we were unable to join Pat and you for lunch today,” Hoover wrote to Vice President Nixon after one failed invitation in 1958. On another occasion, Nixon suggested that Clyde—“our favorite bartender”—ought to learn to make the mean if unspecified pink cocktail that they all had often enjoyed together.

Such exchanges evoke nothing so much as the formal world of 1950s married life, one set of spouses trading entertaining tips and social niceties with the other. But did these friends actually view Hoover and Tolson as a romantic and sexual couple? In recent decades, many acquaintances—including Ethel Merman—have claimed that they “knew” about Hoover and Tolson. But it’s hard to say if this is posthumous speculation or accurate insider knowledge. Nixon famously referred to Hoover as a “cocksucker”—a suggestive word, but one that may or may not be referring to Hoover’s sex life. In the press, Hoover and Tolson were most often described as “bachelors,” a term that served simultaneously as a euphemism and as a straightforward description of an unmarried heterosexual man. At the FBI, acquaintances consistently denied anything other than a close friendship.

It is easy to write off the more open aspects of Hoover and Tolson’s relationship as proof of old-fashioned naiveté—to assume that folks in the 1950s were unaware. But this gives the people of the past far too little credit and flattens out an intriguing social history. If Hoover’s story tells us anything, it’s that today’s binaries—gay vs. straight, closeted vs. out—map uneasily onto the sexual past. Hoover and Tolson were many things at once: professional associates, golf buddies, Masonic brothers, and possibly lovers as well.

At the very least, they were caring social partners, relying on each other for emotional sustenance and daily support that went beyond the realm of ordinary friendship. J. Edgar  closes with Tolson clutching a love letter to Eleanor Roosevelt from journalist Lorena Hickok, now widely seen as one of Roosevelt’s several romantic interests. But Tolson might as well have been reading a letter from his own FBI personnel file, which contains one of the few personal missives that have survived decades of purging and obfuscation.

“Words are mere man-given symbols for thoughts and feelings, and they are grossly insufficient to express the thoughts in my mind and the feelings in my heart that I have for you,” Hoover wrote to Tolson in 1943. “I hope I will always have you beside me.”
« Last Edit: November 10, 2011, 09:34:04 pm by Aloysius J. Gleek »
"Tu doives entendre je t'aime."
(and you know who I am...)


Cowboy Curtis (Laurence Fishburne)
and Pee-wee in the 1990 episode
"Camping Out"

Offline oilgun

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The reviews I've read have been luke-warm.  Apparently Clint let's the subject matter get away from him and is too easy on the vile Hoover but Leo's performance is excellent.

Offline ifyoucantfixit

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    I definitely am going to see this one.  I like Leonardo very much.  Clint is a
consumetly talented director also.  One of his not so perfect works.  Will probably surpass most of the other fare out there.  I have really been looking forward to this film.  I was from an era that I can identify with very well.  I mostly thought of him when I was in school, and after as well, as a most dedicated and effective leader of the bureau.  I think he was like most men of great drive and ability.  They have two sides in all things.  Good, and bad.  After all he was human as we all are. 





     Beautiful mind

Offline delalluvia

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One-sided? Maybe...in the movie??

In the movie.

 :laugh: at the pics. They look like grown up version of me and my sister's Easter dresses, being dressed alike by our mom.

Offline Aloysius J. Gleek

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In the movie.

 :laugh: at the pics. They look like grown up version of me and my sister's Easter dresses, being dressed alike by our mom.




For some reason, I don't think you and your sister would have sat quite as--close  as that--   ;) ;D





























"Tu doives entendre je t'aime."
(and you know who I am...)


Cowboy Curtis (Laurence Fishburne)
and Pee-wee in the 1990 episode
"Camping Out"

Offline delalluvia

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Actually we probably did, sisters you know.  :)

Offline oilgun

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Considering all the lives those two have ruined, I feel like throwing up. I will skip this one...

Offline Aloysius J. Gleek

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Considering all the lives those two have ruined, I feel like throwing up. I will skip this one...


Monsters, I grant you, if certainly not  as compelling as, say, Lord and Lady Macbeth, but--maybe interesting all the same--


"Tu doives entendre je t'aime."
(and you know who I am...)


Cowboy Curtis (Laurence Fishburne)
and Pee-wee in the 1990 episode
"Camping Out"

Offline Aloysius J. Gleek

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Oh well--here's an (almost ) out-and-out bad review!   ::) ;D



http://nymag.com/listings/movie/j-edgar/

Review
J. Edgar
By David Edelstein





We hear the voice first, high-pitched, the vowel sounds swerving between Boston and Brooklyn, neither of which was home to FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. It’s not a promising start for Leonardo DiCaprio in J. Edgar,  and the first appearance of his face, egregiously rubberized to age him decades, adds to the element of camp. Who’ll be playing Eleanor RooseveltKristen Wiig? DiCaprio is a good, sometimes great naturalistic actor, but his transformations have always been hit-or-miss, and the opening of Dustin Lance Black’s script could be a biopic parody. When Hoover began to dictate his memoirs (“It’s time to tell my side of the story!”), I was embarrassed for the actor. Is Hoover meant to seem so stiff and ludicrous?

It turns out that he is, in part, having hidden his true, homosexual nature for so long that he’s phony through and through. The thrust of J. Edgar  is that many of the U.S. government’s most dangerous tendencies—among them flagrant disregard for civil liberties—are rooted in a closeted gay man’s terror of being exposed, especially to his mother. From that terror came Hoover’s obsession with ferreting out other people’s secrets, amassing private files on presidents and using them as leverage to remain in power. And the man who made sure that his bureau projected an aura of manly fitness struggled with the impulse to sashay around the house in dresses and pearl necklaces.

You might wonder: “Who is the gay, pinko, subversive director behind this Tommy-gun assault on our national security and masculinity?” Clint Eastwood, of course. J. Edgar  is the latest chapter in Eastwood’s never-ending project to deconstruct the macho, jingoist, homophobic, right-wing archetype he once embodied—and prove himself an artist whose simplicity of style belies the most sophisticated understanding of the dual nature of the American character of any living filmmaker.

That’s the theory, anyway. It’s too bad J. Edgar  is so shapeless and turgid and ham-handed, so rich in bad lines and worse readings. Not DiCaprio, though: As you get used to (and correct for) his artifice, you appreciate his guts and honesty. There’s something appealingly straightforward about the way he physicalizes Hoover’s inner struggle, the body always slightly out of sync with the mind that vigilantly monitors every move. The same can’t be said, alas, for Armie Hammer as Hoover’s beloved Clyde Tolson. He’s fine as the smugly entitled pretty boy but hopeless under speckled makeup that makes him look more like a burn victim than a senior citizen. Is there a merit badge for self-effacement? Give it to Naomi Watts as Hoover’s lifelong secretary, who has few lines but is frequently held in the frame so we can register her conflict between loyalty to her boss and to the Constitution of the United States.

Direction this ponderous exposes all the contrivances in Black’s script, like surrounding the aged Hoover with agents who, while taking dictation, interrupt to query the legality of his methods. Those damn liberals are everywhere! The bleached-out scenes in the teens, twenties, and thirties strongly suggest that God had yet to invent color—but late in the film there’s a postmodern twist that reveals our narrator as unreliable. With direction as unvaried as Eastwood’s, you can’t tell what’s purposefully bogus and what’s inept. And does Black’s gay through line get in the way of the story? Apart from one derisive line about Joe McCarthy, there’s nothing about HUAC or the blacklist, when the FBI and Congress worked hand in hand to trash the First Amendment.

I did love Judi Dench as Mrs. Hoover, who at one point announces, “I’d rather have a dead son than a daffodil for a son”—to which J. Edgar replies, “Yes, mother.” A carriage that formidable would scare anyone straight.
"Tu doives entendre je t'aime."
(and you know who I am...)


Cowboy Curtis (Laurence Fishburne)
and Pee-wee in the 1990 episode
"Camping Out"

Offline oilgun

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J. Edgar: Was he a hero or a villain?
RICK GROEN

What a sprawling, befuddling, fascinating, frustrating mess of a movie. Usually the tautest of directors, Clint Eastwood has gone all slack here, allowing his subject to get completely away from him.

To be sure, J. Edgar Hoover is a big subject and a tough nut to crack. As head of the FBI through eight elected presidents and nearly a half century of American democracy, Hoover behaved like a one-man Kremlin, as subversive as the subversives he hunted. Eastwood admits as much in these frames, but seems to have no strong opinion on the matter.

nstead, he gives Hoover a very long leash, leaving the little bulldog to bark boastingly and trot across the decades relatively unscathed. It’s hardly surprising that J. Edgar would lionize himself; what’s shocking is that J. Edgar lets him, with only modest attempts at correcting the record.

[...]

Flash-forward again to the Sixties. The dynamic trio have all aged together and, courtesy of the makeup department, are now similarly layered in latex – in certain light, they look like a Night of the Living Dead convention. Nevertheless, Edgar remains hard at it, butting heads with Bobby Kennedy, digging up dirt on Jack, and doing his vicious best to discredit Martin Luther King along with that most insidious of domestic threats – the Civil Rights Movement.

Back to the past, where the Twenties give way to the Thirties, Commies to gangsters, and then the “crime of the century” – the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby. Oddly, this is what Eastwood lingers on, clumsily dramatizing several aspects of the case, all with the apparent purpose of extolling Hoover’s law-enforcing achievements (expanding federal jurisdiction, advancing forensic science, centralizing finger-printing data). While we’re pondering this, the G-man records in his memoir: “It’s important that we re-clarify the difference between hero and villain.”Yet that’s precisely what this film fails to do. It doesn’t convincingly portray Hoover as either a tragic hero with flaws, or a villain with redeeming humanity.

Consequently, despite DiCaprio’s best efforts, the character never comes alive enough to elicit our sympathy or our disdain. Without that investment, the so-called emotional scenes play out like a dry well. The death of his mother, for example. Hoover is bereft, and Eastwood uses the occasion to touch on the cross-dressing rumours. In his grief, Edgar dons Mommy’s necklace, then her frock, and collapses to the floor in tears. Yes, we feel nothing but the urge to laugh – the sequence is risible. So is another crucial moment when Clyde, upset about Edgar’s professed dalliance with an actress, dukes it out with his pal, then plants a bloody kiss smack on his mouth.

On this issue, the film is discreet about the extent of Hoover’s homosexual feelings – he certainly had them; he may or may not have acted on them. Since Hoover himself lacked any such reservations about exposing the sexual habits (real or rumoured) of others, perhaps Eastwood’s non-committal approach reflects a commendable higher standard. Unfortunately, it also reflects a non-committal picture. The script tries to make a virtue out of not judging Hoover, asking us to do the job instead. That might be fine, but only if we’re given a reason to care. We aren’t.

Hoover died in office during the presidency of his star pupil Richard Nixon. They shared the same love of illegal bugging, dirty tricks and domestic spying, plus the fervent belief that “information is power.” Well, maybe in war and politics, but not in the movies. Like its subject, J. Edgar is chock full of random information; unlike him, it’s woefully lacking in any real power. The man built a Kremlin in Washington while branding himself a patriot; the film raises a red flag only to hide under it.


http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/arts/movies/j-edgar-was-he-a-hero-or-a-villain/article2232544/page1/