Sunday, June 03, 2007

Friends of Dorothy

Turner Classic Movies is celebrating the traditional Gay Pride Month (June) with twice-weekly screenings of some obscure and some well-known films with gay characters, themes, and images.

An article by Roger Fristoe on the TCM web site begins:

At a time when the rights of gays and lesbians are being hotly debated, TCM offers a look at the treatment of homosexuals in American movies as inspired by the Richard Barrios book Screened Out: Playing Gay in Hollywood from Edison to Stonewall. Our festival covers roughly the same territory as the book, with the range marked by two TCM premieres: the silent comedy Algie, the Miner (1912), starring Billy Quirk as a “pansy” who wants to become a cowboy; and The Boys in the Band (1970), released at the dawn of the Gay Liberation movement and showing new freedom in portraying homosexual characters, even as some of them descend into self-loathing stereotypes.
The Boys in the Band is unfairly besmirched these days as a self-loathing (as Fristoe puts it) portrayal of "unhappy homosexuals." The fact is, Mart Crowley's play -- and the movie that, with a few directorial changes along the edges, nearly replicates it -- is a marvel of dramatic structure, which tautly switches from comic to tragic moments. Its characters might seem like stereotypes, but each of them is drawn three-dimensionally. Every one of the men in the play gets a center-stage moment; although Michael and Donald (reputedly based upon two theatre professors at the Catholic University who taught Crowley) are ostensibly the central characters, all of the others are able to tell their stories, ranging from the poignant to the hopeful to the enigmatic. In every case, the stories and the characters who tell them ring true. There is more verisimilitude to The Boys in the Band than many people wish to give it credit for, nearly 40 years after its premiere.

The full schedule for "Screened Out" includes these films:

Monday, June 4
Screened Out: Gay Images in Film
Night One - The Early Years

8:00 PM Algie, the Miner ('12)
8:30 PM The Monster ('25)
10:15 PM Exit Smiling ('26)
11:45 PM The Broadway Melody ('29)
1:45 AM Way Out West ('30)
3:00 AM The Office Wife ('30)
4:15 AM Stage Mother ('33)

Wednesday, June 6
Screened Out: Gay Images in Film
Night Two - Gays Before the Code

8:00 PM The Sign of the Cross ('32)
10:15 PM Our Betters ('33)
11:45 PM Double Harness ('33)
1:00 AM Queen Christina ('33)
2:45 AM Wonder Bar ('34)
4:15 AM The Sport Parade ('32)

Monday, June 11
Screened Out: Gay Images in Film
Night Three - Men and Women Behind Bars

8:00 PM Hell's Highway ('32)
9:15 PM Ladies They Talk About ('33)
10:30 PM Caged ('50)
12:15 AM So Young, So Bad ('50)
2:00 AM The Strange One ('57)
4:00 AM Women's Prison ('55)

Wednesday, June 13
Screened Out: Gay Images in Film
Night Four -The Dark Side: Film Noir and Crime

8:00 PM The Big Combo ('55)
10:00 PM Suddenly, Last Summer ('59)
12:00 AM Reflections in a Golden Eye ('67)
2:00 AM Gilda ('46)
4:00 AM The Maltese Falcon ('41)

Monday, June 18
Screened Out: Gay Images in Film
Night Five - Horror

8:00 PM The Uninvited ('44)
10:00 PM The Picture of Dorian Gray ('45)
12:00 AM Voodoo Island ('57)
1:30 AM The Haunting ('63)
3:30 AM The Seventh Victim ('43)

Wednesday, June 20
Screened Out: Gay Images in Film
Night Six - Comedy

8:00 PM Manhattan Parade ('31)
9:30 PM Sylvia Scarlett ('36)
11:15 PM Turnabout ('40)
12:45 AM That Touch of Mink ('62)
2:30 AM The Producers ('68)
4:00 AM Designing Woman ('57)

Monday, June 25
Screened Out: Gay Images in Film
Night Seven - Code-Busters (Part One)/Out and Open (Part One)

Code-Busters (Part One):

8:00 PM Tea and Sympathy ('56)
10:15 PM The Children's Hour ('61)
Out and Open (Part One):
12:15 AM Staircase ('69)
2:15 AM The Boys in the Band ('70)

Overnight/Code-Buster bonus title:
4:30 AM Victim ('61)

Wednesday, June 27
Screened Out: Gay Images in Film
Night Eight - Code-Busters (Part Two/Out and Open (Part Two)

Code-Busters (Part Two):

8:00 PM Advise and Consent ('62)
10:30 PM Walk on the Wild Side ('62)

Out and Open (Part Two):

12:30 AM The Fox ('67)
2:30 AM The Killing of Sister George ('68)
This I know: my DVR is going to run on overdrive this month.

A question, though, for the programmers: Why wasn't tonight's screening of The Wizard of Oz (1939) included in the listing of the "Screened Out" repertoire? It is, after all, arguably the most influential gay movie of the 20th century.

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