Happy Birthday Michael Ontkean, 67 today, and best known for his performance as the sexually-conflicted protagonist of the great pre-AIDS film Making Love.
This scene from the film (which was made in 1981 and released in 1982) fascinates me endlessly. Watch and listen as a gay guy (Harry Hamlin) visits a doctor (Ontkean) and is told he probably has “some virus”. After they talk about promiscuity and drugs, they go for a walk, and end their conversation outside a hearing aids shop. The camera angle obscures the word “Hearing” from the shop sign so hovering between their heads is the all caps “AIDS”. The very definition of the uncanny:
Director: Tony Piccirillo
Stars: James Marsden, Scott Speedman
Available on DVD - order here
Twenty-four days after he’s learned of his HIV seroconversion, Tom (Scott Speedman) tracks down Dan (James Marsden), who he believes infected him. Tom takes Dan home, handcuffs him to a chair and withdraws some of Dan’s blood. Tom plans to test the blood sample and if it comes back positive, kill Dan.
The highly-strung 24th Day began life as a Los Angeles stage play, with Noah Wyle from television’s “E.R.” playing one of the lead roles. The stage origins are fairly apparent, as ninety percent of the action - almost all of which is spittle-spray dialogue between the two actors - takes place within the four-walled set of Tom’s shadowy apartment.
The static, stagey Death and the Maiden template isn’t a very good basis for any film and here it’s made worse by very safe script choices and a most unwelcome series of lectures on safe sex and discrimination.