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The Celluloid Closet (1995)

A documentary surveying the various Hollywood screen depictions of homosexuals and the attitudes behind them throughout the history of North American film.


(book), (story) | 3 more credits »

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Nominated for 4 Primetime Emmys. Another 7 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Jan Oxenberg ...
Quentin Crisp ...
Richard Dyer ...
Jay Presson Allen ...
Mrs. Gustav Ketterer ...
Himself (archive footage)


A comprehensive documentary of the history of gays and lesbians in cinema, from negative to positive reflections of gay characters and the troubles of actors and actresses. Written by R. John Berggren <jberg@nina.pagesz.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some graphic footage of sexuality and violence, and for language | See all certifications »



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Release Date:

15 March 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Celluloid Closet  »

Box Office


$1,507,800 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The filmmakers originally planned a sequence discussing how gay historical figures were portrayed as heterosexual in films. They aborted the sequence when Richard Burton's estate denied the rights to Alexander the Great (1956), MGM denied use of Hans Christian Andersen (1952) (fearing that the filmmakers were trying to "out" Danny Kaye) and Charlton Heston declined use of The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965) (claiming that Michelangelo was heterosexual). See more »


Harvey Fierstein: The hunger I felt as a kid looking for gay images was not to be alone.
See more »


Features Dream a Little Dream (1989) See more »


Secret Love
Music by Sammy Fain
Words by Paul Francis Webster
Sung by Doris Day
See more »

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User Reviews

11 July 2000 | by See all my reviews

I agree that this film is perfect and here's why. It details its subject in a thorough and sweeping manner. It explores films and details the homosexual portrayals in an intelligent and non-catty manner. It's clever, well presented, no it's not a typical documentary but it's a very moving piece nonetheless, and it tells a story throughout. I was really thrilled by this film and all the research and effort that went into it. In interviews the filmmakers said that the only section they wish they could have kept was one about gay historical figures whose biographical lives were depicted on film as heterosexual. Certainly this would have been wonderful, but as is, the Celluloid Closet is an incredible film.

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Movie list, anyone? choirfreak26
One bad thing about this film... laubklein2
intentionnally homophobic movies dioniscerda
Celluoid Closet Part 2? just_turi
Films not mentioned kino_vamp
First Film with Homosexual Character(s)? jukebox_era
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