Yesterday I reviewed the book,Fifty Years of Queer Cinema: 500 of the Best GLBTQ Films Ever Made. In keeping with that theme, for today’s movie, I would like to present; The Celluloid Closet. The Celluloid Closet is a documentary film “based on a book by the late Vito Russo, about Hollywood’s treatment of homosexual characters in the 20th century”
This documentary is narrated by “gay icon” Lily Tomlin. Her commentary for the film was written by best selling author, Armistead Maupin (Tales of the City). Interviews from screenwriter Gore Vidal, filmmakers John Schlesinger and Harvey Fierstein, and actors Tom Hanks (Philadelphia) and Whoopie Goldberg (The Color Purple) – among many others – are included.
Though slightly dated since it was released before the tidal wave that was Brokeback Mountain, this is still an amazing, in depth look at gay and lesbian film characters and themes from Ben Hur (1959) and earlier through Desert Hearts and Philadelphia and many, many more. This includes material about the effect of the Hayes Decency Code on the film industry and on films with gay and lesbian characters and themes specifically. There are more than 100 film clips included to support the overriding themes presented. Some of these clips were quite a revelation to see in the context of this film. It made me want to go back and watch some “old” movies again with fresh eyes. How did I totally miss all of the subtext?! Even you avid movie buffs are in for a few surprises.
This is one to get and to even maybe make a few notes while you watch about films you want to get your hands on and see/see again for the first time.