A Bit of Scarlet


Time Out says

This documentary, a companion piece to The Celluloid Closet, examines gay and lesbian cinematic representation (or non-representation) in mainstream British cinema and TV. Basically, it's a clipfest, with Andrea Weiss and Stuart Marshall's tart narration spoken by Ian McKellen, which trawls the sound era from the Rathbone/Bruce pairing in The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939), through the recidivist belles of St Trinian's, the Carry On movies, Dirk Bogarde in Victim and Malcolm McDowell in If..., to Terence Davies and the present. Serious but light, the film presents a provocative, more or less orthodox gay reading, broken down into chapters and using mock 'rules' of behaviour to ironic effect. The participation of various archives (including Britain's NFTVA) is a plus: the shot, for instance, of Kathleen Byron's glare at fellow nun Deborah Kerr in Black Narcissus wouldn't seem half so powerful or erotic if it weren't shown in a plush Technicolor print.

By: WH


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