Derek Winnert


This article was written on 15 Sep 2016, and is filled under Uncategorized.

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Making Love *** (1982, Michael Ontkean, Harry Hamlin, Kate Jackson, Wendy Hiller, Arthur Hill, Nancy Olson) – Classic Movie Review 4368


A new broom swept through Hollywood in 1982 with the major studio of Twentieth Century Fox tackling the subject of gay love. The romantic drama Making Love was ground-breaking as the first American movie distributed by a major studio that focused on a romantic gay relationship.

Unfortunately the pioneering film is so tasteful, the characters so bland, and the movie so ordinary that the public stayed away and Making Love set back the history of gay movies for about a decade.

Harry Hamlin plays LA novelist Bart, who meets married young LA doctor Zach (Michael Ontkean), who falls for him. Zach then decides to tell his TV producer wife Claire (Kate Jackson) that he is gay. But the Hamlin and Ontkean characters then have problems of their own when they discover that their personalities don’t really dovetail after all.


Written by Barry Sandler, from a story by A Scott Berg, it is soppy, soapy, soupy stuff, and the gay Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner – incredibly well-meaning and essentially liberal and nice, yet totally patronising and somehow phony as heck.

All three stars look very attractive, and the two men make a little something out of their making love thing, but Arthur Hiller, who also made Love Story, was utterly the wrong director. Attempts to downplay the gay theme in the movie advertising (‘A provocative tale of hidden desire’) just compounded the film’s artistic and box-office failure. They didn’t call it Making Gay Love, did they?

Wendy Hiller (1912–2003).

Also in the cast are Wendy Hiller, Arthur Hill, Nancy Olson, John Dukakis, Terry Kiser, Dennis Howard, Asher Brauner, John Calvin, Gwen Arner, Anne Harvey, Stanley Kamel, Charles Lucia, Doug Johnson, Ben Mittelman and Erica Hiller.

Audiences had to wait till the New Queer Cinema movement of the Nineties till gays and lesbians got their movie due and their stories put up there on the big screen with any authority. Oh well, Making Love was a start anyway, a step in the right direction. But it didn’t do anything for the stars’ careers.

It was green-lit by Sherry Lansing, the studio head at the time.

The 35th Anniversary Screening was held on 24 June 2017 at the Ahrya Fine Arts Theatre on Wilshire Blvd in Beverly Hills, followed by a Q&A with Hamlin, Sandler, and Berg.


When Arthur Hiller died on aged 92, it was Love Story not Making Love for which he was remembered.

© Derek Winnert 2016 Classic Movie Review 4368

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