When 20th Century Fox released the film Making Love in 1982, straight audiences didn’t know what hit them.
The film, about a married man who comes to terms with being gay, starred two familiar faces from television, Kate Jackson and Michael Ontkean, and a handsome newcomer named Harry Hamlin who had made a splash in The Clash of the Titans a year earlier.
The marketing was just vague enough that when Ontkean and Hamlin moved in to kiss, there were gasps heard in theaters all around the US and some people stormed for the exits.
‘It was maybe 1o years ahead of its time,’ Hamlin said over the weekend at the 30th anniversary screening of the movie at LA’s Outfest Film Festival.
Hamlin was joined at the screening by director Arthur Hiller and screenwriters A. Scott Berg and Barry Sandler.
‘The gay community was ready for it, there was great anticipation and excitement,’ Sandler said. ‘The studio was nervous about the straights. There was cryptic advertising that would say everything except what it was.’
Hamlin and the writers pointed out that the version shown on Saturday at Outfest did not include an overhead shot of Hamlin and Ontkean’s characters in bed having sex.
Then they revealed that the shot was not of the two actors anyway.
Said Berg: ‘Barry went up to Santa Monica Boulevard to get two guys off the street from [the gay bar] Blue Parrot.’
‘We just found the two hottest guys who we could find,’ Sandler added.
Hamlin said that while watching the film again Saturday, he was struck by how it took place in ‘a more innocent time. No one had ever heard the word AIDS before.’
The handsome actor, once named People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive, went out to gay bars – something his character of Bart did just about every night – and had to explain he was doing research for a role because he kept getting hit on.
‘He was committed to the honesty of the part,’ Sandler said.
Hamlin, who went on to star for many years on LA Law, said he continues to be reminded about the movie 30 years later.
‘Pretty much not a day goes by, if I’m out in public, does somebody not come up to me and say something about this film. Some will have tears in their eyes and say, ‘Thank you for making this film.’ It really is seminal to a lot of people.’
Below is the film’s original trailer: