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THE CELLULOID CLOSET

USA, 1995 (MIFF 1996, Documenta)

Director: Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman


The late Vito Russo's ground breaking book The Celluliod Closet explored and critiqued a history of the on-screen representation; of gay men and women with a wit and perception that is admirably matched in this eagerly awaited film version Lily Tomlm delivers author Armistead Maupin's eloquent narration serving as a link between a telling series of meticulously research­ed and edited film clips and a smartly selected line-up of expertly articulate interviewees. These often sassy, humorous voices of exper­ience lend testimonial weight to a chronologically and ideologically widespan fresco of homosexual and lesbian screen image types.

Whether positive, negative or somewhere in between, there are many cherishable iconic movie moments here a tuxedoed Dietrich giving mouth-to-mouth to a lady customer in Morocco. Garbo's sternly gorgeous Queen Christina pronouncing, "I shall die a bachelor", Judith Anderson's Mrs. Danvers fondling her former mistress's scanties in Rebecca, Peter Lorre doing some interesting things with a walking stick in The Maltese Falcon, Monty Cllft and John Ireland comparing pistols in Red River, that now contentiously hot embrace between Stephen Boyd and Charlton Heston in Ben-Hur.

Memorable highlights are bursting out' of The Celluloid Closet, an important and hugely entertaining film which not only bears witness to the problems and advances of the past but which also looks forward optimistically to the achievements of a gay filmic future ipk)

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