Monday, May 2, 2011

"Be a good boy and open your mouth"

So says macho Gilbert Roland, straddling the chest of blond punk Peter Graves, just before force-feeding a cigar all the way down the young man's throat. The film is "Beneath the 12-Mile Reef" (1953) and the scene is jaw-dropping in its overtones of male-on-male sexual domination. So much so that the cigar-shoving segment was cut when the film was restored for widescreen DVD release. To see it, you have to find an unrestored full-frame public domain version such as the one embedded below or available here.

Mexican-born Gilbert Roland is one of my favorite classic movie hunks. Originally a silent-film matinee idol, he just got more rugged and sexier as he matured into middle age, still steamy hot into his 50's. Not just a handsome face with a killer hairy body, he was also a very good actor, imbuing his characters with warmth and emotional depth. [Best role I've seen him in: as a Cuban revolutionary in John Huston's "We Were Strangers" (1949).]

The star of "Beneath the 12-Mile Reef" is a very young Robert Wagner, who spends much of the movie wriggling underwater in his swimming trunks. An early CinemaScope film, the widescreen process was supposed to mesmerize moviegoers with the beauty of the ocean deep.... but it's Robert Wagner's beauty that steals every shot.

Gilbert and Robert play father and son sponge fishermen in Florida, and the story is a reworking of Romeo and Juliet, as Robert falls for the daughter of a rival fishing family. It's not bad as melodrama, but the real draw for me is the chance to watch Gilbert and Robert, making the film a total homoerotic treat.

You should try to see both versions: The restored widescreen version, because the picture quality is excellent, and the unrestored full-frame version, so you can watch Gilbert shoving his big thing into Peter Graves's mouth. The unrestored version is embedded here (cigar segment begins at about minute 36:00).


  1. So I just finished watching "The Plastic Age" (1925)--a silent Clara Bow college football picture. The hero's roommate was a good looking, but nothing special dark haried guy--yup, Gilbert Roland. The chin, the eyes, the curly hair were all there but he was not anyone I would have looked at twice. Nowhere near as handsome as that early shot you included in your post. What was your line? "He just got more rugged and sexier as he matured into middle age, still steamy hot into his 50's." Absolutely. Later in life his appearance still makes me go weak in the knees...

    Oh there's also a great Pre-Code locker room scene...

  2. Hi FelchingPisser, Thanks for the info on Plastic Age. I've had that film on my to-see list for awhile - you are motivating me to finally watch it.