7.8/10
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47 user 32 critic

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.

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(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

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

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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Details

Country:

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Release Date:

15 March 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Celluloid Closet  »

Box Office

Gross:

$1,507,800 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Quotes

Narrator: Hollywood, that great maker of myths, taught straight people what to think about gays and gay people what to think about themselves.
See more »

Connections

Features The Crying Game (1992) See more »

Soundtracks

Secret Love
Music by Sammy Fain
Words by Paul Francis Webster
Sung by Doris Day
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User Reviews

 
8/10
16 February 2004 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

A documentary that follows the appearance of gays in the history of the movies, the film takes a talking heads approach with interviews, splicing in some terrific film pieces. We get to see Marlene Dietrich, in "Morocco," kiss another woman while dressed in tails -- and looking better than any man ever could. There's a brilliant in-joke clip from "Red River" where Montgomery Clift is told about the beauty of a Swiss watch and a woman -- and then asked if he's ever had a Swiss watch. The film looks at gay stereotypes such as the pansy or the sissy, the characters that Franklin Pangborn used to play. Some of the interviewees are exceptional, namely Harvey Fierstein, Gore Vidal, and the incredible Quentin Crisp. Vidal gives a hilarious recount of including a gay backstory in "Ben Hur" which Charlton Heston of course denies.

The film is also touching and kind of heartbreaking. You realize that in the century we've had movies how enormously they've shaped our culture and our perception of people, and how if the filmmakers and studio heads hadn't been pressured by the horrible Hayes code, society's collective view of gays might not be so troublesome. There's a great moment where Quentin Crisp talks about census takers in England, asking about homosexuality. They were asked whether they knew any homosexuals. If the answer was yes, they were asked what they were like, to which they replied, "just like everybody else." If they answered no, they were asked what they would expect to meet, to which they replied, someone with grand gestures and flamboyance and bright colors. So that there are two images we have in our minds -- one of what homosexuals are like, and one of what homosexuals should be like. And movies played a huge role in that. 8/10


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