Search - The Celluloid Closet (Special Edition) on DVD

The Celluloid Closet (Special Edition)
The Celluloid Closet
Special Edition
Actors: Lily Tomlin, Tony Curtis, Susie Bright, Arthur Laurents, Armistead Maupin
Directors: Jeffrey Friedman, Rob Epstein
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Musicals & Performing Arts, Documentary
R     2001     1hr 42min

A hundred-year history of the role of gay men and lesbians in motion pictures, with excerpts from 120 different films, and comments by contemporary actors who have portrayed gay characters. — Genre: Documentary — Rating: R — ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Lily Tomlin, Tony Curtis, Susie Bright, Arthur Laurents, Armistead Maupin
Directors: Jeffrey Friedman, Rob Epstein
Creators: Armistead Maupin, Jeffrey Friedman, Rob Epstein, Bernie Brillstein, Sharon Wood, Vito Russo
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Musicals & Performing Arts, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Documentary, Gay & Lesbian, Film History & Film Making
Studio: Sony Pictures
Format: DVD - Color - Closed-captioned,Dubbed,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 05/29/2001
Original Release Date: 03/15/1996
Theatrical Release Date: 03/15/1996
Release Year: 2001
Run Time: 1hr 42min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 24
Edition: Special Edition
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English, French
Subtitles: English

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Member Movie Reviews

Bob B. (bozex) from ATLANTA, GA
Reviewed on 11/3/2009...
great movie to see the history of gay people in film from
stereo types, until recent.

Movie Reviews

The Power of Cinematic Image
Gary F. Taylor | Biloxi, MS USA | 08/16/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Based on the book by Vito Russo, written by Armistead Maupin, and narrated by Lily Tomlin, THE CELLULOID CLOSET uses interviews and hundreds of film clips to examine the way in which Hollywood has presented gay and lesbian characters on film from the age of silent cinema to such recent films as PHILADELPHIA and DESERT HEARTS. Throughout the documentary, the focus is on both stereotypes and the various ways that more creative directors and writers worked around the censorship of various decades to create implicitly homosexual characters, with considerable attention given to the way in which stereotypes shaped public concepts of the gay community in general.Overtly homosexual characters were not particularly unusual in silent and pre-code Hollywood films, and CLOSET offers an interesting sampling of both swishy stereotypes and unexpectedly sophistocated characters--both of which were doomed by the Hayes Code, a series of censorship rules adopted by Hollywood in the early 1930s. The effect of the Code was to soften some of the more grotesque stereotypes--but more interesting was the impetus the Code gave to film makers to create homosexual characters and plot lines that would go over the heads of industry censors but which could still be interpreted by astute audiences, with films such as THE MALTESE FALCON, REBECCA, BEN-HUR, and REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE cases in point. Once the Code collapsed, however, Hollywood again returned to stereotypes in an effort to cash in on controversy--with the result that throughout most of the sixties and seventies homosexual characters were usually presented as unhappy, maladjusted creatures at best, suicidal and psychopatic entities at worst.The film clips are fascinating stuff and are often highlighted by interviews of individuals who made the films: Tony Curtis re SOME LIKE IT HOT and SPARTACUS, Shirley MacLaine re THE CHILDREN'S HOUR, Stephen Boyd re BEN-HUR, Farley Granger re ROPE, and Whoopie Goldberg re THE COLOR PURPLE, to name but a few. All are interesting and intriguing, but two deserve special mention: Harvey Fierstein, who talks about the hunger he had as a youth to see accurate reflections of himself on the screen, and Susan Sarandon, who makes an eloquent statement on the power of film as "the keeper of the dreams."Although the material will have special appeal to gays and lesbians, it should be of interest to any serious film buff with its mix of trivia and significant fact. The DVD also includes notable packages of out-takes from interviews that are often as interesting as the material that made the final cut. If the documentary has a fault, however, it is that it offers no "summing up," preferring instead to show only how far the portrayal of homosexuals has come and indicating how far it has yet to go. Recommended to any one interested in film history and interpretation."
100 minutes of entertainment and education
S. Lee | College Station, TX United States | 01/07/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I'd once been to a film seminar where the participants watched HItchcock's ROPE together and discussed the queer sub-text of it. I didn't know, until then, that ROPE can be a 'queer' movie, although I had seen it at least 3 times because I'm a big Hitchcock fan and had it among my movie collection. A professor at the seminar had a big hearty laugh when the two characters and James Stewart were discussing how they 'choked the chicken' back when they were younger. I didn't know what 'to choke a chicken' meant, so I didn't see how the scene could cause such a raucous laugh among some participants at the seminar. Now I know, and I could deepen my understanding of 'homosexuality in American cinema' by seeing this well-made documentary dealing with that subject. I'm straight, and and although I don't think I'm homophobic, I must admit that I used to be prejudiced against homosexuality and homosexuals. A movie helped me to change my view on homosexuality and gay people forever, and it was Ang Lee's The Wedding Banquet. In The Celluloid Closet, you can see tens of movie clips including the one from it. Just looking at those clips--some are from rather obscure titles, some are from my personal favorites--is a delight. I'd strongly recommend this wonderful film to anyone who wants to have an hour and a half of 'educational' entertainment."
An Amazing Story of Gay/Lesbian Images and Themes in Film
Matthew A. Brown | Seattle, WA USA | 07/01/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I remember how powerful this movie was upon first viewing. This film is both a celebration and a condemnation of the way Hollywood has portrayed gays in film. It's fascinating to see the early film clips, a Thomas Edison film with two men dancing, a silent western with a preening gay cowboy, Marlene Dietrich in tophat and coattails kissing a woman, and a Charlie Chaplin sequence where a man swishes around the set after Chaplin kisses a woman in drag. I felt so cheated upon learning that 'The Lost Weekend' was supposed to be about a guy confused with his sexuality who goes on a weekend binge, not a writer with writers block. Nevertheless, it won 4 Oscars in 1946 including Best Picture. The montage of scenes from various movies where character after character uses a particular disparaging word for a gay male, stunned me and left me feeling appalled by an industry that has institutionalized homophobia. The film 'Making Love' debuted on HBO and I remembered that day, watching with my parents, listening to their remarks, and hoping they wouldn't realize why I was so captivated. The list of films portrayed in this movie is long and spans each decade. This is definitely one of my favorite documentaries."