LGBT Movies: Making Love (1982)

A closeted doctor has an affair with a man. Everyone talks about their feelings. A lot. The Celluloid Closet called Making Love one of the first sympathetic films about homosexuality. That may be, but it’s also terribly dull.

Want to learn more? Read my spoiler filled recap.

Act One: Married Life

1 Wendy Hiller
Zach and Claire bond over their love for British character actresses.

Scene One: Confessional Monologues.
(Treacly music plays.)
CLAIRE (a TV exec): Spoiler alert. My ex-husband Zach turned out to be a homosexual.
BART (a writer): Spoiler alert. Things with Zach didn’t work out. All I have left are his Gilbert and Sullivan records.
(Flash back to…)

Scene Two: A Talent Show
ZACH (a closeted doctor): I can’t wait to decorate our fabulous new apartment.
CLAIRE (his wife, a TV exec): We should have a baby. That means having sex.
ZACH: Couples don’t have to be sexually attracted to each other to be in love.
COWGIRL LIZA MINNELLI: I’m gonna sing my heart out! (Sings flat.)
AUDIENCE: BOO! Give her the booby prize! (She cries.)
ZACH: Poor Liza. Come on Claire lets sing worse than her. (They sing a Gilbert & Sullivan tune flat)
AUDIENCE: BOO! Give the operetta loving heterosexual couple the booby prize!
COWGIRL LIZA MINNELLI: Gee thanks ya’ll! Glad I could establish you as sympathetic characters!

Scene Three: Doctor’s Office
BART (a writer): I need a complete physical.
ZACH: Sit on the table and… keep your clothes on. I liked your book.
BART: (Smitten.) Thanks doc. Want to get lunch? Be warned, I don’t eat carbs.
ZACH: I need to have sex with my wife of 8 years! (Flees.)
(Bart buys all the cookies from a Cynical Girl Scout.)
CYNICAL GIRL SCOUT: I’ve established you as a sympathetic character. You’re welcome.

Act Two: An Affair to Remember

2 Curious
Who wouldn’t be curious?

Scene Four: Bart’s Apartment
BART: Want to talk about it?
ZACH: I’m not gay. I’m just curious.
(Zach kisses Bart.)
BART: You’re clearly more comfortable with intimacy than that guy from last week’s recap.
ZACH: Yes but he got naked. I’m keeping my pants on.
(They take off their shirts, fall into bed and commence making out. Cut to…)
ZACH: I didn’t enjoy that! (Flees.)
BART: Who needs him? Not me. I’m happier alone. Yep.

Scene Five: TV Studio
CLAIRE: I’m quitting this job to save my marriage.
BOSS: Nope. I’m promoting you. You need a subplot and some agency.
CLAIRE: You son of a b*tch.

Scene Six: Bart’s Apartment
BART: My dad made me play baseball.  It was humiliating. I wish I’d told him I was gay before he died. I wanted to see the horrified look in his eyes.
ZACH: Creepy. Your new novel isn’t honest.
BART: Neither are you Mr. Curious!
ZACH: I want men okay? I just don’t want to waste my life picking up one night stands at gay bars like in those sad gay movies. At least my wife is in bed with me in the morning.
(Cut to: Zach in bed with Bart in the morning.)
ZACH: Hey Bart? I love you.
ZACH: See? I told you gay movies were sad. (Leaves.)

Act Three: The Fallout

3 Fallout close up
But what about our sing-a-longs?

Scene Seven:  Zach and Claire’s Home
ZACH: You bought striped toothpaste! You know I prefer plain!
CLAIRE: What’s really going on? I can handle anything. (Breaks a dish.)
ZACH: I’m attracted to men.
CLAIRE: You son of a b*tch. (Slaps him.)
ZACH: It took us 80 whole minutes to get to what was established in the prologue.
CLAIRE: Let’s stay together. It’s not like we were having sex before I knew.
ZACH: That wouldn’t be fair to either of us. (Leaves.)
CLAIRE: He didn’t even ask me about my subplot.

Scene Eight: Years Later.


CLAIRE: Thanks for coming to my landlady’s funeral. Her two minutes of screen time meant a lot to me.
ZACH: I’ve got a steady boyfriend now.
STEADY BOYFRIEND: Hi! I’m blandly handsome!
CLAIRE: I’ve got a husband and a kid.
HUSBAND: Hi! I don’t consider your friendship a threat!
CLAIRE: I guess things ended happily after all!
ZACH: So… Is the movie over yet?
CLAIRE: Let’s stare at each other a while first. (Treacly music plays.)



More to Love than Making Love

harry hamlin shirtless making love
Harry Hamlin brings the beefcake.

People have described the movie to me in one sentence as “Kate Jackson finds out her husband is a homosexual,” and they haven’t left out much. ~ Roger Ebert.

As with A Very Natural Thing the leading man loses his roguish first lover but finds happiness with a buttoned up second lover. That one had more gay sex. This one has more straight sex. But both are dull. Critics found Making Love boring in 1982. Why watch it in 2019? Well the leading men (Harry Hamlin and Michael Ontkean) provide some pleasant (career damaging) love scenes and it’s nice to see the leading lady (Charlie’s Angels Kate Jackson) get a career related subplot. The talent show scene provides some goofy comedy that the film could have used more of. There’s also a brief cameo from British stage and screen star Wendy Hiller. Beyond that you can skip it.

Here are candid interviews with director Arthur Hiller and co-star Harry Hamlin. You can also listen to a review from the Bad Gay Movies podcast.

For more reviews of QUILTBAG media click here.

Up next: Alexis Arquette stars in the forgotten 1997 romcom I Think I Do.