By Design (1982): Canadian Jutra’s Lesbian Comedy, Starring Patty Duke (LGBTQ)

Ahead of its times thematically, Canadian Claude Jutra’s By Design is an uneven sex comedy revolving around two lesbians, starring Sara Botsford and Patty Duke.

Lovers Angie (Botsford) and Helen (Patty Duke) not only live but also work together, designing women’s clothes and running their own fashion business in Vancouver.  Angie loves Helen and if Helen can’t feel fulfilled without being a mother she is willing to do anything and everything.

When Helen announces she wants to have a child, Angie reluctantly lends her support. They quickly reject the idea of artificial insemination when they see an unkempt drunk after he donates sperm for beer money.

Denied permission to adopt, and rejecting artificial insemination, the couple set their sights on sleazy photographer, Terry (Saul Rubinek), as a one-night stand for Helen.

The story concludes when Angie gives birth to a girl, and Terry moved to Los Angeles to promote their new design.

Jutra deals with serio issues (adoption, surrogate mothers) in a light, satirical way, taking the viewers through a tour of Vancouver’s bars, discos, and beach houses to convey the modern lifestyle of open-minded lesbian characters.

The film lacks consistent tone and unified visual style, but it’s a joyous experience and its heart and soul are in the right place.