Different Story, A (1978)

Different Story, A (1978)

“Yes I have, several, and not particularly.”

A real estate agent (Meg Foster) allows a homeless illegal immigrant (Perry King) to live with her, and they eventually become friends, then spouses, then lovers, then parents.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Homosexuality
  • Lesbianism
  • Romance

It’s unclear why Peary included this controversial indie film in the back of his GFTFF: is it because of Meg Foster’s strong performance in a leading role originally slated for Susan Sarandon, or because he found the subject matter itself intriguing? While I rented this title with an open mind, prepared to engage with what did indeed sound like a “different [romantic] story” (apparently based on a real couple), I was disappointed to find that, despite a promising start, it quickly devolves into a scenario that’s not only implausible and offensive but dull. Screenwriter Henry Olek seems to think that King’s “feminine” interest in clothing design is enough to remind us that he’s still (supposedly) gay even after marrying Foster; meanwhile, once Foster gives up her lesbian “lifestyle”, the only representation of lesbianism we’re left with is her pathologically clingy and neurotic ex-girlfriend (Valerie Curtin).

The Gay [and Lesbian] Activists Alliance wrote a letter of concern upon the film’s release, and it’s easy to see why: a movie which posits that a gay man and woman can suddenly find not only love but sexual satisfaction with one another feeds directly into the toxic fantasy that homosexuality can be “cured”, especially once a kid arrives on the scene. Clearly, this kind of scenario does occasionally happen — see IMDb user posts for at least one example; but it’s handled here with such lack of insight and nuance that this story really would have been better off not being told at all.

Note: King’s status as a Belgian illegal immigrant (purely a plot device — it’s the reason Foster marries him to begin with) is clumsily handled as well: when Foster asks him why he doesn’t have an accent, he declares it’s because he “doesn’t want one” (!!!).

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Meg Foster as Stella

Must See?
No; feel free to skip this one, unless you’re curious.


One thought on “Different Story, A (1978)

  1. First viewing. Skip it.

    This is now a largely forgotten film (I had a hell of a time finding it) – and maybe that’s a good thing.

    One of its major errors is that it is largely set up as a comedy – but, as such, it has no laughs. OUCH! But then it sort of gives up being a comedy and moves on.

    As the film progresses with its under-nourished and often dreary script, you may note that audiences have misinterpreted the film. It is *not* a film about a gay man and a lesbian (as I had been led to believe). Though King and Foster have clearly mainly been involved in same-sex relationships, they are *also* candidates for bisexuality. Both of them let us know that they have been in straight entanglements to a considerable-enough degree.

    The film suggests that each of them are discontent as a result of their same-sex adventures – but it completely fudges the issue of how they deal with homosexual desires once they marry. ~ which makes the film’s near-penultimate ‘reveal’ perplexing and probably even dishonest.

    It makes sense that Albert (King) and Stella (Foster) would grow from being friends to lovers (even if the film handles the progression awkwardly). But then the *real* trouble kicks in. The script throws the two of them into a totally heteronormative battle (!) and completely skips over what *should* have been obvious for their situation.

    In short, if the film is seen as being about gay people (which it isn’t), then it’s offensive. But if it’s seen as a film about bisexuality (which it more closely resembles), then it fails miserably. It doesn’t have some of the courage of a film like ‘Sunday, Bloody Sunday’ (even if the bisexual in *that* film is a self-centered jerk).

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