By William Stevenson
Updated January 10, 1997 at 05:00 AM EST
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The Celluloid Closet

type
  • Movie

More than just a fascinating film-history lesson, The Celluloid Closet (which debuted on HBO before playing theaters) reveals how Hollywood has influenced perceptions of gay men and lesbians — and even gay people’s self-image. Using Vito Russo’s 1981 book as their source, producer-directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman interweave clips (from an 1895 Thomas Edison Studio short of two men dancing to recent indie films), thoughtful narration (written by Armistead Maupin, read by Lily Tomlin), and talking heads (including Gore Vidal, who boasts of outfoxing Charlton Heston by writing a subtly homoerotic scene for Ben-Hur). When Carter Burwell’s haunting music accompanies slow-motion glimpses of gay characters, the movie becomes quite magical.

The Celluloid Closet

type
  • Movie
genre
mpaa
runtime
  • 102 minutes
director
  • Jeffrey Friedman
  • Rob Epstein

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