Guy Glover

January, 1988

Producer of approximately 290 NFB films over almost thirty-five years beginning in 1941. A bilingual Alberta-raised poet and critic, Glover is remembered as a witty party thrower, Norman McLaren 's open but discreet lover for all of that time and his survivor by only two years when he died in 1988, and above all as a producer passionately engaged with the ideas and images of his films. One of the most influential figures in Canadian film history, he has no entry in the standard English-language reference books. Among many roles, he was a longstanding collaborator with the Board's pre-Studio D women filmmakers, including Gudrun Parker, scriptwriter for subtextually suggestive films like The Stratford Adventure and Being Different. Many of his other titles also suggest discreet subterfuge, wordplay and open secrets, the search for alternative masculinity and even the possibility of sexual transgression, from The Inner Man to Opera School. My weird delectation of such titles aside, a thematic analysis of the films also reveals Glover's commitment to intercultural exchange, nonconformity, progressive causes, and especially the performing arts. Glover, a ballet and theatre lover, had been hired by Grierson possibly because he wanted his boyfriend and he thought hiring a Canadian wouldn't hurt; though by the end of the War Glover had already made his mark as a producer, he had also been typecast by the boss as a performing arts specialist. The performing arts had always provided a safe space for the expression of subterranean homoerotic affiliation and desire both in themselves and through cinematic and photographic adaptations, and looking at Canada film history from this point of view opens up a whole new field of enquiry. Look at the punctilious tenors and willowy young men in wire-rim glasses and suits who wander through Glover's arts films as accompanists and you will know about non-macho models of masculinity before their time. Meanwhile, Glover’s narration and voice-over for the irreverent Oscar-nominated cartoon Romance of Transportation in Canada (Colin Low, 1952), bared his queenly wit and inflections for all to hear.

McLaren would later claim that his closetry was in deference to Glover, and one of Glover's rare public utterances implicitly corroborates this. Glover’s 1967 article "How to Make a Canadian Film," was an ironic scolding of the new waves of the late sixties, as uttered by an old guard producer of the tradition of quality. Among his Swiftian barbs at the indiscipline, modernist editing structures and narcissism of the baby boomer Fellinis around him, was a note about themes:

Youth in revolt is a perfect subject-area. Post-teens in revolt is perfect for a post-teens director. Departures from mental and sexual norms (so-called) are especially desirable (1967).

In that parenthetical "so-called," by which Glover qualified "sexual norms," there nevertheless seems to be a hint, two years before the decriminalization of sodomy, of the relativity of those norms, one of the few cracks in this public armour of mentorial disdain where the private queer elder glints indulgently through.