USA (MIFF 1998 , Documentaries)
Director: Mark Rappaport

"Mark Rappaport's brilliant new film is an ironic, fascinating and intellectually daunting examination of the classic era of Hollywood studio moviemaking. The film charts the frequently cruel and perverse measures taken to erase any suggestion or traces of a gay influence in American cinema. It's brilliant use of clips creates a dense and impressionistic texture as Rappaport's radical juxtapositions become a meditation on American identity, masculinity and representation from the 1930s through the 1960s." - Chicago Tribune

From the director of Rock Hudson's Home Movies (1992) and the mesmerising From the Journals of Jean Seberg (1995), a new project retaining Mark Rappaport's distinctive visual technique. Once again the director allows his presenter to physically intrude in the frame, superimposed against and gesturing toward Hollywood luminaries in computer manipulated freezeframe. In this manner the filmmaker can visually, if not literally, get under the skin of his subjects.

An essential companion piece to MIFF 1997's A Bit of Scarlet, the film plays out like Rappaport's response to the far more conventional The Celluloid Closet (MIFF 1996). Where fellow celebrities and a clip compile illustrated the key points of Closet, Rappaport probes the film career and personal life of individual actors (Danny Kaye, Bob Hope, Walter Brennan, and Randolph Scott amongst others) to underscore the skilfully manipulated perceptions of homosexuality in US cinema. Rappaport himself refers to his film as, 'If anything, The Celluloid Closet's evil twin brother."

Of course, there's a veritable feast of classic images and performances. In essence, Rappaport's entertaining and enlightening scavenger hunt suggests that gay cinema is as American as apple pie!

Mark Rappaport has written, directed, produced and edited numerous short and feature length films for over 30 years. In the early 70s, Rappaport worked on a number of features before establishing himself with titles including Impostors (1980), Chain Letters (1985), Postcards (1990) and Exterior Night (1994).

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