The UCLA Film & Television Archive will host a free virtual screening of Harvey Perr’s acclaimed period drama “The War Widow” on Aug. 5 at 4 p.m.
Set during World War I, “The War Widow” is about an unfulfilled married woman played by Pamela Bellwood, who finds herself increasingly drawn to another woman, a vibrant photographer, portrayed by Frances Lee McCain. Upending decades of televised stereotypes, Perr’s coming out tale, which aired in 1976, centers its strong female characters with courage and agency as they chart their own destinies in opposition to the cruel restrictions imposed by society.
Controversial when aired (the PBS program included a disclaimer noting that it was funded entirely by grants, not tax dollars), the resulting moving drama, which produced by Barbara Schultz, represents a significant milestone in the realistic, positive depiction of lesbians on primetime television. In The Advocate, noted activist and film historian Vito Russo (“The Celluloid Closet”) wrote, “watching the final scenes of ‘The War Widow,’ a vision of lesbians as a people welled-up inside me and I saw, for the first time on television, the strength of will that has existed in my people throughout history, enabling us to decide to be different and carve a life out of our being.”
Following the screening, Perr and McCain will join LGBTQ+ historian Jenni Olson for a conversation about “The War Widow.”
Register to see “The War Widow” and you will receive a reminder email and video link on the day of the program. The video link will also be posted on the registration site 30 minutes before the start time.