Category: David Schultz

Film Review: Foxcatcher, John du Pont, Gay Angle

Film Review: Foxcatcher, John du Pont, Gay Angle

I disliked this film…Foxcatcher…so much I’m making this review a stand alone post so I can just get it out of the way. This is just for me to vent. I truly don’t like reviewing anything with this tone, but in this case I just couldn’t do anything else. And I think that’s because there’s a passive aggressive homophobia hidden very deeply, one I can’t even comment on because it was done in such a clever, obtuse way. 

When I first heard about the film, Foxcatcher, I posted about it here. I added links to that post with information about John du Pont allegedly being gay, and I talked about how I remembered the murder of David Schultz from a local POV because I live in Bucks County, PA. You can go back and read all that. I’m not going to repeat it again in this post.

First, Foxcatcher is one reason why I hate to waste my time going to theaters anymore. I wouldn’t have been thrilled seeing this in a hot cramped theater, and frankly, I’m not too thrilled about wasting five dollars on the rental. E-books can be returned for up to five days on Amazon, but I can’t get a refund on a film I thought was a waste of time. There’s something ironic and unfair about that and I’d like to know who in the film industry made up those no-refund rules and how they are allowed to get away with it when book publishers can’t.

I want my money back.

In any event, in spite of all the gay allegations that surrounded the unusual life of John du Pont, none of it was mentioned in Foxcatcher. There were hints, but if you blink you’ll miss them. So if you think you might even get a little speculation on the gay angle, you’re in for a huge disappointment. Instead, they portrayed John du Pont as weird, quirky, and absolutely obsessed with the game of wrestling. They insinuated he had issues with his mother, with respect to his own inadequacies, and that he carried baggage that dated back to childhood (all speculation). However, even these aspects of the film were toned down so they could concentrate mostly on long, elaborated wrestling scenes that added nothing significant to the characters or the film…unless you happen to be a huge wrestling fan and want those details. And I had to wonder why, in the name of all that is good, was any part of this film nominated for an Oscar.

As for characterization, think Mommie Dearest and the exaggerated way they portrayed Joan Crawford, which is how that film went on to be become campy cult classic. Although I don’t think that will happen with Foxcatcher, even the nose they gave John du Pont made me want to smile at certain points in the film. And trust me, there’s not much to smile about with this film.  

I know the film was set in Newtown Square, PA because that’s what it said, and that’s where John du Pont lived. However, I didn’t get a feel for the setting even slightly and for all it mattered it could have been anywhere else in the USA. But I think the oddest part for me was that John du Pont allegedly had no one close to him, which is why he befriended Mark Schultz in the first place. And yet we have du Pont flying to huge events to give speeches as if he didn’t have one single insecurity in the world. Now I know that could happen, but at least give a slight explanation and a hint of the kind of man he was. After watching this film, I know nothing more about him from what I read and heard about in the news at the time of the murder.

I’m not going to drag this out for long. There were a few scenes where du Pont actually did roll around on the mat with a few of the wrestlers, but nothing that would indicate he felt anything sexual toward them. And I found that hard to believe then, and I still find it hard to believe now. If there was a cover up this film only perpetuates it even more. If there wasn’t, I’m not sure there was a need to make a film at all. That’s the biggest flaw of the entire thing for me. Why bother? It was a tragic event that took one life and ruined others. But I’m not sure it warranted being retold all over again. So that critics who knew so little about the back story could give this film such stellar reviews?

Here’s a link to an article that mentions 11 things about Foxcatcher that were not accurate. Most were new to me when I first read them, so I’m still learning things about this story…even if I learned nothing from the film.

There’s this:

In reality, this never happened. In fact, Mrs du Pont was dead before John ever started Foxcatcher. She died in 1988 and only then did John act to redevelop the 440-acre Liseter Hall Farm in Newtown Square as an elite level wrestling facility. He called this new camp “Foxcatcher” after his father’s old racing stable.

And here’s the gay part…that was never mentioned:

The film never looks properly at rumours of John du Pont being gay. It does imply that Mark and John may have had a homosexual relationship, but that’s so ridiculous that it’s almost laughable.

The film is very misleading in this portrayal. Mark was not gay and barely had any sort of relationship with du Pont. However, Dave Metlzer does write in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter that “The belief is that there was a homosexual relationship with Du Pont and a wrestler, but not Mark.”

The film therefore covers up what could have been an interesting narrative with a wholly unbelievable story about Mark Schultz.

I don’t believe for a moment Mark was gay or that he had any intimate relationship with du Pont. I do believe there was more cover up and the story goes much deeper than we’ll ever know. But once again, why bother making a movie about a cover up unless something new is going to be disclosed? Or, center the film on the cover up. Now that would have been interesting. 

And I want my money back. 

Small Town Romance Writer
113,000 Word Gay Romance 

"Foxcather" John du Pont, Gay Angle; Crimes of a Chickenhawk; Foxcatcher 1996

“Foxcatcher” John du Pont, Gay Angle

In 1996, John du Pont, from the wealthy du Pont family in the Philadelphia area, shot and killed a wrestler named David Schultz. I remember the story well because it was all over local Philadelphia news at the time, partly because du Pont was from such a prominent family and partly because he locked himself in his house for days until he finally surrendered to police after a long stand off.

Also at the time, I remember hearing rumors about du Pont being a closeted gay man. Of course none of those rumors were ever brought out in public, at least not through local mainstream media. If you do a search you’ll find several fascinating articles about it…and many come with comment threads where people have left even more fascinating pieces of alleged information that the press conveniently overlooked. This link to wiki states that du Pont was, in fact, gay.

 du Pont married Gale Wenk in 1983. They annulled their marriage ninety days later. du Pont was gay.

Now there’s a film out about du Pont, Foxcatcher, which focuses on the murder of David Schultz. It would have to focus on the murder because the only other interesting thing about du Pont’s life was that he loved wrestlers. He loved them enough to build a wrestling training camp on his estate, which is called Foxcatcher. He called the wrestling camp “Team Foxcatcher.” And, David Schultz was living on the estate with his wife at the time he was murdered by du Pont.

The film has received a few negative reviews, this one being the worst I’ve seen so far.

Not content to portray the vaguely sexual murder through In Cold Blood–style social observation and psychological speculation, Miller pretends to get “political.” The du Pont–Schultz disaster is presented with solemn music (including Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin’”) and a nighttime image of the Washington monument here contextualized as a defiled phallic symbol — evidence of national decadence and decline. Miller shows the instincts of a dull-witted editorial writer, not an artist.

I’m not getting into film reviews, but notice the comment about “vaguely sexual murder.” That same vaguely sexual aspect of this case has been following the story since it first happened. This morning I was flipping through local Philadelphia morning news channels and several had short segments devoted to du Pont and the new film out about him. Not one mentioned anything about him being gay. Not one mentioned the fact that there’s even been speculation. I was waiting, but it was completely ignored. And I find that hard to take because it’s still implying that there is shame associated with being gay.

Here’s a link to a comment thread where someone posted some interesting facts.  

This is only part of the comment:

John duPont was a whack job and gay. His marriage was clearly an attempt to throw people off of the truth. Many Delaware Wrestlers trained at his estate in the off season because it was the best facility around. These men are now in their 30′s and 40′s. They attended the facility in groups and never wanted to be alone with the guy. 

I will see the film, but my point with this post is that I’m tired of anything remotely associated with being gay is treated as if it’s a taboo topic by the mainstream media. At least mention it as a possibility if it’s important to the story and don’t censor us anymore…even if it’s not flattering and it doesn’t create a happy-cry moment.

Here’s a link where you can read about the book, Foxcatcher.

Crimes of a Chickenhawk

This is about John du Pont, too. I wanted to post something from a gay media POV and found this review of the film, Foxcatcher. The title, for those who don’t know what a “chickenhawk” is, refers to older gay men who are ONLY attracted to much younger gay men. That term’s been around for a long time.

The earlier part of this post is how the media ignores the gay angle in the film. This part of the post is how the film allegedly insults gays in general. I haven’t seen the film so I can’t comment.

When du Pont awakens Mark for an after-midnight work-out, we’re shown the beast-with-two-backs in silhouette. Miller’s “tasteful” approach keeps us in the dark but surely du Pont and Mark know they’re humping. Miller’s innuendo robs them of their full tragedy while indie movie power brokers who sponsor Miller’s elite homophobia deflect their snobbery with a violent climax. They promote gayness as a pathological stereotype. In its grim, art-movie way, Foxcatcher is a form of gay-bashing. Lovers of the singlet had better stick to Matthew Modine, Michael Schoeffling, and Frank Jasper (pictured below) in the 1985 wrestling mat classic Vision Quest.

You can read the entire review here.

Foxworth: The History l996

And here’s an article from l996 that discusses the murder and all kinds of eccentricities du Pont had. And then this:

 There were also rumors that du Pont was gay, and that his interest in wrestlers went beyond the appropriate bounds of a coach.

Interesting. And I had to dig to find that one.

You can read the rest here.

Again, my point has nothing to do with the more complicated matters presented about du Pont or the murder investigation. I’m not even commenting on the film right now. My point is simple and I’d like to know why the strong gay angle in this story isn’t mentioned when it’s being discussed by the media almost twenty years later.

The Sheriff and the Outlaw
by Ryan Field