Turner Classic Movies take on “Screened Out: Gay Images In Film”

Sorry I missed out on the first night of this, but tonight’s second installment of the Turner Classic Movie channel’s Screened Out: Gay Images In Film series is a wonderful opportunity to snuggle up in front of the tube while we wait for the good weather to return. We may have all seen The Celluloid Closet but it seems this is your chance to not just catch the documentary but some silver screen gems themselves.

Each night is divided into themes. Tonight’s “Gays before the code” theme promises a banquet of trangression. Despite this era’s demonization of GBLT people there was a visibility that just wasn’t matched for decades after. No one can deny the sexiness of Marlene Dietrich in Morocco or Greta Garbo in Queen Christina (airing tonight) even if they come across nearly as lecherous as the flaming characters in Cecile b. DeMille’s The Sign of the Cross (also airing tonight).

As the month progresses the guilty pleasure found in many of these old movies gradually shifts to pride. Today starts with mocking. Next Monday and Wednesday sees the prurient satisfaction of jail movies and film noir. We’re still the bad guys. By the following week gays and lesbians are victims in horror movies or someone to laugh at in comedies but by the final night we have reason to be out and proud with films such as The Boys in the Band.

Even if watching so many less than positive portrayals of ourselves in the last century of filmmaking can be discouraging, as a bit of 20th century ephemera it’s more than a little enticing. And in that light it becomes easier to see this collection of films past as a lively bit of entertainment to be enjoyed, and yet a historical moment to move on from.

Now if only some the best flicks weren’t on a 2 in the morning…

Peep some video commentary below:

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