The Celluloid Closet (1995)
September 3, 2023 7:06 PM - Subscribe

"This documentary highlights the historical contexts that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals have occupied in cinema history, and shows the evolution of the entertainment industry's role in shaping perceptions of LGBT figures." Viewable in the US for free on Tubi. Includes a lot of film clips ranging from the earliest US films to the mid 1990s (one is a deleted scene from "Spartacus"!) and interviews with a bunch of writers, directors, actors, and producers.
posted by brainwane (7 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I keep meaning to rewatch this, so thanks for the reminder! I first saw it in the late 90s and it kinda blew my mind; I've been wondering lately how it's held up over time.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 7:07 AM on September 4, 2023 [2 favorites]

Such a fun, fascinating film. It was an eye-opener when I saw it back then and its DNA can be seen in many similar films that came after, like The Bronze Screen: 100 Years of the Latino Image in Hollywood and Hollywood Chinese.

A fave bit is Gore Vidal talking about how he suggested that the director of Ben-Hur tell Stephen Boyd to act like Messala and Ben were once teenage lovers and Messala wanted to rekindle that, but to not tell Charlton Heston any of that because he'd "fall apart." You can see Boyd taking that to heart in the clip.

The Siskel and Ebert review from the time is worth a watch, too.

one is a deleted scene from "Spartacus"!

Snails *and* oysters! Laurence Olivier is so creepy in that scene, and Tony Curtis is such a twink.
posted by mediareport at 9:47 AM on September 4, 2023 [4 favorites]

based on the book
posted by brujita at 1:52 PM on September 4, 2023 [1 favorite]

Good movie, really watchable and compelling. Strong podcast energy, if you're into that
posted by Rinku at 7:54 PM on September 4, 2023

So good!

IIRC, some of the things included in the book had to be excluded from the film because they couldn't secure the rights. I don't have examples at hand but I'm pretty sure I've read that some of the inability to secure rights was because the rights-holders didn't want gayness all over their stuff.
posted by rmd1023 at 10:03 AM on September 5, 2023 [1 favorite]

I remember my high school's GSA hosting a screening of this, back in ...2003-ish? It was revelatory for me, because I loved classic film noir and Golden Age musicals, both of which are packed with queer coding, and so much of it had gone over my head. And I'd never heard of Boys in the Band, but it seemed interesting so I tracked down a recording (with the help of a movie-buff family member) and watched it, and for the first time felt like I glimpsed the depth of self-loathing of internalized homophobia that queer people in the generations previous to mine had struggled with. (I grew up in a very liberal environment.)

Thanks for reminding me of this!
posted by pollytropos at 4:50 PM on September 7, 2023 [3 favorites]

I too grew up in a liberal environment, a white liberal environment. I never really understood what it was like to be in the minority until she talked about how she would sit in the theater and look for any crumbs that she could relate to.
posted by Melismata at 10:05 AM on September 11, 2023 [1 favorite]

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