Marion Burgess knows her husband, Tom, has homosexual tendencies. After all, she caught him and their good friend Patrick in an intimate moment just two days after she married him back in the 1950s.
What she didn’t know was how far things had gone between the men before she had met them (not to mention how far they continued to go even after she and Tom wed).
And she certainly didn’t know that bringing Patrick—who recently had a debilitating stroke—into their home now after so many years apart would anger Tom.
Marion didn’t know a lot of things, it would seem. But she (and audiences watching) learns all about the romance between Tom and Patrick as she reads Patrick’s journals from the year they all met and became friends.
After Patrick’s stroke, Marion volunteers to care for him so that he won’t go to an “awful” nursing home. And though Tom accuses her of torturing him (because she wound up spending her life with Tom instead of Patrick), it would appear that Marion’s intentions are pure, and that she simply wanted to mend old wounds between friends.
Tom says he joined the police force because he wanted to protect and serve the people.
A painting depicts the resurrection of Lazarus. A nun kisses her rosary after she spots two men kissing.
I won’t get into the nitty gritty details here but suffice it to say that there are multiple gratuitous sex scenes between two men. And we see everything but their genitals.
In other scenes, men kiss each other. We hear that some gay men wear makeup and jewelry. Many people express disgust with homosexuality. (Marion ends a friendship after learning the woman has a female romantic partner.)
A couple of scenes show a married couple (man and woman) having sex (everything but their shoulders are covered) and kissing. People wear modest swimsuits at the beach and pool.
Though it’s not sexual in nature, a woman undresses a man to give him a sponge bath, and we see his exposed chest.
[Spoiler Warning] A gay man marries a woman under the pretense of being “fond” of her and wanting to have children. (He uses her to hide his homosexuality and to boost his career.) However, he continues to have an affair with another man even after marrying her. The wife eventually discovers his deception. She stays with him in the hope that he will choose her instead (even though they never do have children and they both blame each other for their unhappiness). But it isn’t until they are older and retired that she finally decides to leave him, having realized that he is (and always was) in love with the other man.
A gay man is tackled, hit and kicked by police after they catch him kissing another man in an alleyway. Another gay man is pulled out of his bunk in prison and beaten brutally by another inmate for his sexuality. We hear that Patrick’s former boyfriend was beaten to death by a “gang of thugs” for being a homosexual.
We hear that a gay man is receiving therapy to change his sexuality (which, at the time, involved harsh and dangerous methods).
Marion rips up a book in anger and later burns a postcard.
Men get into an argument at a pub and nearly get into a fight. We hear that a woman had an accident on her bike. A man says he despises police because of their “brutality.”
God’s name is abused six times and Christ’s another two. We hear about five uses each of “bloody” and “h—” (sometimes together). “What the devil?” is exclaimed twice. We hear a homosexual slur.
People smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol continuously throughout the film. Tom gets drunk on several occasions in what appears to be a coping mechanism. Marion bribes Patrick with cigarettes even though she was given strict orders from his nurses not to give him any. Patrick takes medication after his stroke.
Patrick and Tom go to lengthy measure to ensure their romantic relationship isn’t discovered, since they could both lose their jobs and get arrested. Both men allow other gay men to be arrested in order to protect themselves.
Tom and Patrick both lie to Marion about the nature of their relationship. They seem to mock her ignorance (or at least her inability to do anything about it), carrying on behind her back and even travelling to her dream vacation destination without her. (Though to Tom’s credit, he does tell Patrick not to hurt Marion, adding that she is a “wonderful” person.)
In her attempt to save her marriage, Marion does a disservice to herself, Tom and Patrick by not talking to them about what’s going on between the two men. [Spoiler Warning] In her quiet jealousy, she eventually sells Patrick out, reporting him to the authorities to be arrested. (He spends two years getting physically assaulted in prison and then spends the rest of his life without friends or family as a result).
Tom treats the people around him poorly to hide his true feelings. He gaslights Marion on several occasions. Patrick also manipulates Marion. Both men act selfishly because they don’t want to be alone. [Spoiler warning] But their actions hurt Marion and eventually result in her being alone.
People lie. An older Patrick is sometimes rude to Marion as she tries to care for him after his stroke.
We hear several anti-police sentiments.
My Policeman would have us sympathize with people in the LGBT community. It demonstrates how men especially were beaten, jailed and even killed in the 1950s for being homosexual.
But while this violent treatment was inexcusable and wrong, My Policeman seems more focused on the sexual aspects of the story.
A lawyer trying Patrick in court for “gross indecency in a public convenience” and “endangering public morals” refuses to read lines from Patrick’s diary about his sexual encounters with Tom since they “border on obscenity.” Unfortunately, the filmmakers clearly didn’t see a need to protect audiences from those same obscenities.
Gratuitous—meaning unwarranted, unjustified and unnecessary—is the only word I can use to describe the sex scenes witnessed here. And that’s putting it mildly.
It should also be noted that there are no heroes in this story. Everyone who is mistreated also mistreats others. Apologies for these actions are few. And in the end, nobody (including audiences who choose to see this film) maintains their innocence.
Emily studied film and writing when she was in college. And when she isn’t being way too competitive while playing board games, she enjoys food, sleep, and geeking out with her husband indulging in their “nerdoms,” which is the collective fan cultures of everything they love, such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate and Lord of the Rings.