A Different Story
|A Different Story|
A Different Story film poster
|Directed by||Paul Aaron|
|Produced by||Alan Belkin|
|Written by||Henry Olek|
|Music by||David Michael Frank (as David Frank)|
|Cinematography||Philip H. Lathrop|
|Edited by||Lynn McCallon|
|Distributed by||AVCO Embassy Pictures
American Cinema Releasing
|Release date(s)||May 10, 1978|
|Running time||108 minutes|
A Different Story is a 1978 American film set in Los Angeles. It stars Meg Foster and Perry King and was directed by Paul Aaron. It tells the story of a gay man (King) and a lesbian (Foster) who become temporary housemates but end up falling in love with each other. The film was rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America.
While the depiction of the relationship in the film has been lauded, the film has been heavily criticized for stereotyped portrayals of homosexuality and its message that a homosexual can turn heterosexual.
Albert (Perry King) is the chauffeur and lover for a wealthy pianist, Sills (Peter Donat). When Sills finds another chauffeur/lover, Albert is forced onto the streets of Los Angeles. Stella (Meg Foster) is a real estate agent who knows Sills and Albert as repeated rental clients. She finds Albert squatting in one of her properties and she offers Albert to spend the night at her house on the couch. The next day, she goes to work, expecting Albert to move out, but instead Albert cleans her cluttered house and cooks a fantastic dinner. Without verbally acknowledging it, they agree that Albert can stay longer and perform domestic duties while Stella continues working. Albert also gets a part-time job as a valet.
The next night, Stella has a date with Chris (Lisa James). Only when the two of them kiss does Albert realize Stella is a lesbian. Chris spends the night. In the middle of the night, Phyllis (Valerie Curtin), another lover of Stella, storms into the house and finds Stella in bed with Chris. Stella apologizes to Phyllis and they do not break off their relationship. In the meantime, Albert has found a new lover, Roger (Doug Higgins), that he met at the baths. Though they continue their separate homosexual relationships, Stella and Albert find that they enjoy spending more time with each other than anyone else. Stella's parents visit one day and come under the impression that she and Albert are dating.
One day, immigration agents arrive asking for Albert, who is an illegal alien from Belgium. Stella marries him to prevent his deportation. On Albert's birthday, when they are both drunk, they have sex for the first time and enjoy it. From then on, they sleep in the same bed and begin acting like a heterosexual married couple. Stella becomes pregnant and eventually tells Phyllis, who has been distraught about how infrequently she sees Stella. Phyllis becomes suicidal, so Stella and Albert break into her apartment and find her with a gun. She threatens to kill Stella and fires, but the gun is not loaded. Phyllis bursts into tears.
Later the baby is born and they move into a new house. Albert begins a job as an apprentice fashion designer and Stella puts her job on hold to raise the baby. Stella becomes jealous that Albert may be having a homosexual affair with his boss, Ned (Guerin Barry). She sneaks into Albert's workplace late one evening after an office party and finds Albert naked in the shower not with Ned, but with a female model. Stella moves out of their home with the baby and threatens a divorce. Albert tries to apologize numerous times and gives one final try when Stella is showing a property to a client. When she doesn't accept him again, he drives away. She changes her mind, but before she can say anything, he crashes his motorcycle into a tree. She runs over, full of tears, but he is not seriously hurt.
- Meg Foster as Stella Cooke
- Perry King as Albert Walreavens
- Valerie Curtin as Phyllis
- Peter Donat as Sills
- Richard Bull as Mr. Cooke
- Barbara Collentine as Mrs. Cooke
- Guerin Barry as Ned
- Doug Higgins as Roger
- Lisa James as Chris
- Burke Byrnes as Richard II
Critical reception varied from mixed to negative, with a general consensus that the forced and formulaic ending countered whatever appeal existed in the first half of the film. Variety stated that "...Perry King and Meg Foster are excellent as a couple whose budding romance has just one problem: they are both gay. First class production's only - but serious - flaw is a Henry Olek script that begins with brilliant cleverness but dissolves by fadeout into formula banality."
Time Out Film Guide derides A Different Story as a "glossily persuasive film which presents its 'real' gays as neurotics or gangsters, and offers us so many clichés about role reversal, marriage and pregnancy that it makes An Unmarried Woman look like an intelligent study of divorce."
Janet Maslin of the New York Times lauded Meg Foster's "aggressive vitality" but ultimately found the movie seriously flawed: "Mr. Aaron's ineptitude knows no bounds, especially when it comes to blasting an insufferable score, ending scenes at uninteresting moments, and making the film's chronology completely obscure."
Gay rights groups
Some gay rights groups protested the stereotyped depiction of homosexuals in the film and their ability to convert to heterosexuality. Gay Activists Alliance circulated a letter speaking out against the film. Gay Left, a journal of gay rights and socialism, criticized A Different Story as another example of the gay films of the late 1970s which presented stereotyped homosexuals. "It often seems that the wider the commercial audience appeal is meant to be, the more objectionable are the gay characters and relationships portrayed. The superficially 'liberal' approach of a film such as A Different Story is ultimately just as negative about gay sexuality." Film critic Janet Maslin elaborates "The movie's use of [Albert and Stella's] homosexuality is indeed exploitative, insensitive, and offensive in a variety of ways. Even worse, it is unconvincing... Albert's homosexuality is nothing but a gimmick, something for the screenplay to coax him out of."
- Hadleigh, Boze. The lavender screen: the gay and lesbian films: their stars, makers, characters, and critics. Secaucus, N.J: Carol Pub. Group; 1993. Chapter 24.
- Variety review of A Different Story. Published Jan. 1, 1978. Accessed December 9, 2009.
- Time Out Film Guide entry on A Different Story. Accessed December 9, 2009.
- Maslin, Janet. 'A Different Story': Caught in Switches. New York Times movie review, June 14, 1978. Accessed December 9, 2009.
- Bill Samuels (2009-02-03). "Bill Schoell, gay activist". Jatgab.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2013-12-04.
- Gay Left. Journal #10, Summer 1980. p.43. Accessed December 9, 2009.