The Celluloid Closet (1995)

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I’ve been experiencing some writers block, which I’m firmly placing at the butt of the cigarettes which I’ve (hopefully) managed to kick, so I decided to watch a movie. Instead I watched about fifty clips of some wonderful films within The Celluloid Closet (1995). My best mate, Michael, has started a course called ‘Queering Popular Culture’ and I remembered this film from a while back and thought it would be useful to him. Turns out I just watched it again instead. I’d thoroughly recommend you do so as well.

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Based on Vito Russo’s ground breaking 1981 work of film history, The Celluloid Closet gathers clips from dozens of mainstream Hollywood films to illustrate how the movies have dealt explicitly — and more importantly, implicitly — with gay and lesbian themes. Layered between the clips are interviews with film makers whose works have touched on that subject. The popular films of the Golden Age could only hint at homosexuality and often portrayed gays as simpering characters, objects of scorn or merriment, or insidious villains.

With the strictures of the old Production Code loosening, bolder presentations were possible, but often over the objections of studio executives who feared a public backlash against a film that dealt with a long taboo subject.

Among the films discussed are Victim, Philadelphia, The Children’s Hour, Making Love, Rope, and Spartacus. Here is the trailer:

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