The Celluloid Closet (1995)

R  |   |  Documentary, History  |  15 March 1996 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 4,880 users  
Reviews: 45 user | 32 critic

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



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Susie Bright ...
Jan Oxenberg ...
Quentin Crisp ...
Richard Dyer ...
Jay Presson Allen ...
Mrs. Gustav Ketterer ...
Will H. Hays ...
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 <>

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?


Actor Michael Ontkean not only declined to be interviewed for the documentary, but also attempted to prevent clips from his film Making Love (1982) from being shown in it. He was unsuccessful. See more »


Susan Sarandon: You wouldn't have to get drunk to bed Catherine Deneuve, I don't care what your sexual history to that point had been.
See more »


Features Hairspray (1988) See more »


(Love Is Like a) Heatwave
Written by Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Eddie Holland
Performed by Martha & The Vandellas
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User Reviews

Out of the closet and into the picture
17 September 2005 | by (New York) – See all my reviews

"The Celluloid Closet" is a documentary that dares to go where others haven't gone before. Hollywood, that dream factory, has always been a magnet for the artistic gays and lesbians that have had a lot to endure and have never been recognized to the valuable contributions they have made to the medium.

Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman have compiled a comprehensible account of how homosexuals have been discriminated by the industry where they have been present since the early days of silent films. In fact, movies have always attracted homosexuals who, for the sake of being in the pictures, have gone to extremes in order to work in this form of entertainment.

We are given excellent background by a lot of people that explain the many intricacies these closeted individuals have endured while trying to have a career in the movies. Interviews with Arthur Laurents, Tony Curtis, Armistead Maupin, Susie Bright, Whoopie Goldberg, Jan Oxenburg, Jay Presson Allen, Gore Vidal and others, expand on the material we are watching. Lily Tomlin's narration is an asset.

Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman deserve credit for their frank attempt to illustrate Hollywood's hypocritical treatment to the people who, in a way, have added to the prestige and to the artistic quality of the movies.

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