Aunt Lottie's 'problem'

The one scene where Aunt Lottie tells Cora that she "doesn't enjoy it the way most women say they do," left me wondering. Playwright William Inge was gay. And that scene could be an attempt by Inge to introduce the possibility that Aunt Lottie was a Lesbian, trapped in a marriage borne out of conventional expectations of women to get married ... that she was a woman who could not acknowledge or possibly understand her orientation predicament. Just as there are gays and Lesbians who choose not to come out of the closet, and certainly back in the 1920s, there may have been gays and Lesbians who didn't even know they were in a closet ... and were completely confused by feelings considered odd, forbidden, and not to be discussed in (ahem) polite company.

Back in 1960 when the film came out, the unspoken implication of homosexuality could make it past censors. And, that may be why Inge chose not to speak of it with more direct language. Just a thought.

P.S. I'm not gay. But my interpretation of that scene comes from an experience I had. When my maternal grandmother passed away, my mother and I were cleaning out her house. She read quite a few books and had them displayed in a bookcase. But in her bedroom closet was a locked metal box. She'd not left a key that we could find so I had to force it open. Inside, I found a few odds and ends ... costume jewelry, unremarkable stuff ... and one paperback novel titled, "The Loveliest of Friends" - a Lesbian novel. The cover art depicting two women and the summary on the back cover left no doubt of that. I started snickering (I loved Granny and knew she was a bit wild). But I thought my mom was going to have a heart attack when she saw it, hehe.

Point is, there were probably a large number of gay men and Lesbian women who grew up in the 1920s (like she did) and tried to "fit in" to the heterosexual world. My grandmother may have been one of them.


I thought that scene did have undertones, possibly implying a confused sexuality either for Aunt Lottie or for her husband. Remember the scene where Rubin and Morris are in the kitchen and Rubin suggests something that will make Aunt Lottie get in his lap - and Morris says "Maybe I wouldn't want her there."

I thought both scenes were done tactfully - even progressively for the film's time.

Even now, with all of our controversy and sex on TV and arguments over rights and marriage, at least we can talk about things in the open. The sad part about this movie is that it was made at a time when people could not.



Anything is possible. Morris could have stopped making love to Lottie because he personally found no joy in it (possibly gay). Or, he could have stopped making love to Lottie because he perceived that SHE personally found no joy in it, making the act of lovemaking mechanical and devoid of pleasure. So, Lottie's comment could go either way. She said she didn't "enjoy it the way most women say they do." This could be because she personally didn't enjoy the act ... or because she knew that Morris didn't.

BTW, while the movie was made during a time (1960s) when people could not be more open about sexual orientation, it dealt with an earlier time (1920s) when such openness didn't exist. Inge did deal with the scene tactfully. Of course, sex itself was not discussed openly in 1960 films ... so he had no choice but to be so.

P.S. - True story. Ronald Reagan's daughter mentioned this during a TV interview. In Hollywood, actors of the time (1950s/60s) knew that Rock Hudson was gay. It just wasn't spoken of openly until he neared his own death. Anyway, when Reagan's daughter was a kid, she and her dad were watching a Rock Hudson film on TV ... and she remarked, critically, "He's a lousy kisser. He doesn't know how to kiss a woman." To which Ronald Reagan replied, "Well, I know Rock and you'll have to forgive him because he hasn't had too much practice." A tactful response to a child, eh? Hehehe.


I think it was more of a comment on the time period as opposed to homosexuality.
A lot of people got married simply because it was expected and older single people (especially women) were viewed as socially unacceptable. On the other hand, the cadet's Jewishness was definitely a metaphor for homosexuality. Listen to Rubin's comments to the boy.

I wanna buy your carbon offsets.


I think you're all reading way too much into this play with the hindsight of someone 40 years on.

To paraphrase Freud, sometimes a Jew is only a Jew. You don't think antisemitism is a enough of a theme? Rubin's comments to the boy are talking about his race and background.

Morris gay? Huh? He has this talkative cold wife who repels him. They stay married because of the social mores of the day. Morris moons over movie stars like Sonny does. Lottie is a stereotype of that era. Morris is a stereotype of that era. They are foils for Rubin/Cora. Think about the contrast between Morris and Rubin. What does Morris teach Rubin? What does Lottie teach Cora? (not directly, but what does she teach her just by being Lottie?). How are Lottie and Flirt Conroy similar?

It's hard to watch/read these plays/movies in our present context without endless deconstruction. Sometimes things are more straightforward than they seem.


My thought is that maybe Aunt Lottie is so domineering and overbearing for her husband that she makes him feel emasculated in some ways, thus chilling any desire he may feel for her. And there is a big difference between between a strong and independent woman, and one that grinds her partner underfoot and disrepects him to the point where he feels like an appendix.

"I'm eating junk and watching garbage; you better come stop me!"





Don't discount the power and longtime survival of Victorian views. They derived from a time when many were fearful of sex and succumbed to it only for purposes of procreation. Difficult to believe today, but true! Such attitudes existed entirely apart from issues of sexual orientation, and actually when one doesn't "use it" for a long enough period, it's possible to "lose it" in terms of interest.

"Believe not what you only wish to believe, but that which truth demands"


I'm with you, "Sometimes things are more straightforward than they seem." Today's thinking is so much more colored by what is shown and talked about today, remember Elvis was shown only from the waist up on the Ed Sullivan show in the Fifties. When I was a teen, girls danced together w/o even a thought of anything other than having fun dancing...and the only thing we did with coke then was drink it.


Homosexuality in Hollywood was just beginning to be subversively alluded to at this time. MENTIONING it was taboo. However this was a Broadway play first and they always pushed the envelope first. My guess is they tried to lower the shock by making Lottie appear frigid, not gay. It kind of works except for Cora's shocking retort "Lottie, YOU?" when confronted with Lottie's admission of disinterest in sex. Frigidity was well known and often used as an excuse to shadow the true issue as it would be understood for women and not for men.