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The Que(e)rying Eye

by Parminder Chuhan
Arranged chronologically and then alphabetically for each year. NOTE: the list is a work in progress. Not a list of my favourite films by/about ‘homosexuals’, but a list of how homosexual(itie)s (gays, queers, lesbians, bisexuals, trangenders, transexuals) have depicted themselves or been depicted on film. There are far too many films that could be added to the list so I have concentrated on films that ‘stand out’ in relation to the year of their production/release. TO BE ADDED: Films by gay filmmakers: Casper Andreas; Dorothy Arzner; Anthony Asquith; Edwin August; Marco Berger; Rikki Beadle Blair; Q. Allan Brocka; Simon Chung; George Cukor;… Read more

Arranged chronologically and then alphabetically for each year. NOTE: the list is a work in progress.

Not a list of my favourite films by/about ‘homosexuals’, but a list of how homosexual(itie)s (gays, queers, lesbians, bisexuals, trangenders, transexuals) have depicted themselves or been depicted on film. There are far too many films that could be added to the list so I have concentrated on films that ‘stand out’ in relation to the year of their production/release.

Films by gay filmmakers: Casper Andreas; Dorothy Arzner; Anthony Asquith; Edwin August; Marco Berger; Rikki Beadle Blair; Q. Allan Brocka; Simon Chung; George Cukor; Bavo Defurne; Olivier Ducastel; Sergei M. Eisenstein; Edmund Goulding; William E. Jones; Quentin Lee; Mitchell Leisen; Everett Lewis; Jacques Martineau; F. W. Murnau; Jenni Olson; Ryszard Ordynski; Ira Sachs; Scud; James Whale
Films by gay experimental/underground filmmakers: ‘AT’; James Crabe; Curtis Harrington; Lloyd Michael Williams;
Films by gay actors: Rock Hudson; Harry Hyde; J. Warren Kerrigan; J. Jiquel Lanoe; Ramon Novarro; Eugene O’Brien; James Vincent; Clifton Webb.
Note: although gay, all of the above did not make any contributions to gay(s in) cinema, and what can be seen (now) as a gay sensibility-subtext is (at the most) subtle, so they are not included. Those not listed above are included in the list.

Following films to be (re)viewed before adding:
• Fregoli donna (1898, Leopoldo Fregoli).
• Clarence Cheats at Croquet (1915).
• Battling Bruisers (1925, Adrian Brunel).
• A Typical Budget (1925, Adrian Brunel).
• Upstream (1927, John Ford).
• Borderline (1930, Kenneth Macpherson). Marginal characters, such as the manageress and barmaid at the inn, have an air of sexual ambivalence, while the (male) pianist is seen gazing longingly at a picture of Pete (Paul Robeson) on his piano. This homoerotic view of Pete is reinforced by the way in which the camera frequently lingers over Robeson’s semi-naked body.
• Call Her Savage (1932, John Francis Dillon)
• The Uninvited (1944, Lewis Allen)
• Valerie a týden divů (Valerie and Her Week of Wonders) (1970, Jaromil Jireš)
• Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams (1973, Gilbert Cates)
• Short Eyes (1977, Robert M. Young)
• Du er ikke alene (You Are Not Alone) (1978, Lasse Nielsen, Ernst Johansen)
• Abuse (1983, Arthur J. Bressan Jr.)
• Sex and the Sandinistas (1991, Lucinda Braodbent) doc
• Apt Pupil (1998), Bryan Singer)
• I Exist: Voices from the Lesbian and Gay Middle Eastern Community (2001, Peter Barbosa, Gerret Lenoir) doc
• Rewriting the Script: A Love Letter to Our Families (2001, Friday Night Collective) doc
• Ke Kulana he Mahu: Remembering a Sense of Place (2001, Kathryn Xian, Brent Anbe)
• B.T.S. (Better Than Sex) (2002, Chao-Bin Su)

Not on MUBI:
Bahia de Todos os Santos (Bahia of All Saints) (1960, José Hipolito Trigueirinho Neto) – Brasil
Extraña ternura (1964, Daniel Tinayre) – Argentina
al-Mutåt wal-Âzab (al-Moutʾah wal-ʾadhâb) (Pleasure and Suffering) (1971, Niazi Mostafa) – Egypt
Bint Ismaha Maĥmood (A Girl Named Mahmoud) (1975, Niasi Mustafa) – Egypt
Mi novia el travesti (My Girlfriend the Transvestite) (1975, Enrique Cahen Salaberry) – Argentina
The Gemini (2016, Nyo Min Lwin) – Burma
Kyom Chear Nak Na (Who Am I? ) (2009, Phoan Phoung Bopha) – Cambodia

• Retrospective documentaries.

• Wake in Fright (1971, Ted Kotcheff). Donald Pleasence as Clarence F. ‘Doc’ Tydon apparently initiates a homosexual encounter with Gary Bond as John Grant.

• Contact High (2009, Michael Glawogger). Detlev Buck as Harry.

• Fuga (2006, Pablo Larraín). Alfredo Castro as Claudio.
• Neruda (2016, Pablo Larraín). x as transvestite singer.

Song Hwee Lim, Celluloid Comrades: Representations of Male Homosexuality in Contemporary Chinese Cinemas (Honolulu: University of Hawai’I, 2007).

• Irma Vep (1996, Olivier Assayas). Nathalie Richard as Zoé.

• Helena (Helen of Troy) (1924, Manfred Noa). Carlo Aldini as Achille; and Carl (Karel) Lamac as Patroklos.
• Wege zu Kraft und Schönheit (Ways to Strength and Beauty) (1925, Nicholas Kaufmann, Wilhelm Prager).
• Die Büchse der Pandora (Pandora’s Box) (1929, G. W. Pabst). Alice Roberts as Countess Augusta Geschwitz (in some prints Anna).
• The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (1974, Werner Herzog). Michael Kroecher as Lord Stanhope.

• Landscape in the Mist (1988, Theo Angelopoulos). Stratos Tzortzoglou as Orestis, and Socrates Alafouzos as bike buyer.

• Bluff Master (1963, Manmohan Desai). Shammi Kapoor as Ashok dresses in drag and performs the song ‘Chali Chali Kaisi Hawa Yeh’.

Ben Murtagh, Genders and Sexualities in Indonesian Cinema: Constructing gay, lesbi and waria identities on screen (London: Routledge, 2013).

Raz Yosef, Beyond Flesh: Queer Masculinities and Nationalism in Israeli Cinema (2004).
Nir Cohen, Soldiers, Rebels, and Drifters: Gay Representation in Israeli Cinema (Wayne State University Press, 2011).

• Ladri di biciclette (Bicycle Thieves) (1948, Vittorio De Sica). tbc homosexual as child molester.
• Giulietta degli spiriti (Juliet of the Spirits) (1965, Federico Fellini). Valeska Gert as Bhisma, a hermaphrodite.
• A Bullet for the General (1966, Damiani Damiano). Gian Maria Volontè as El Chuncho Muños and Lou Castel as Bill ‘Niño’ Tate seen by some as a homoerotic relationship.
• Il dio chiamato Dorian (The Secret of Dorian Gray; The Sins of Dorian Gray) (1970, Massimo Dallamano). Helmut Berger as Dorian Gray, and Herbert Lom as Henry Wotton; plus lesbian titillation and a scene filmed at the drag pub the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, London.
• Il conformista (The Conformist) (1970, Bernardo Bertolucci).
• Indagine su un cittadino al di sopra di ogni sospetto (Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion) (1970, Elio Petri). Massimo Foschi as Terzi, Augusta’s husband.
• 4 mosche di velluto grigio (Four Flies on Grey Velvet) (1971, Dario Argento). Jean-Pierre Marielle as Gianni Arrosio, an effeminate private detective [killed]; and Corrado Olmi as a porter.
• Gruppo di famiglia in un interno (Conversation Piece) (1974, Luchino Visconti). Helmut Berger as Konrad Huebel.

• Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983, Nagisa Oshima).
• The Pillow Book (1996, Peter Greenaway). Ewan McGregor as Jerome, Yoshi Oida as The Publisher, and Ken Ogata as The Father.
• Rainy Dog (1997, Takashi Miike). x as Sandy.
• Kikujirō no Natsu (Kikujirō’s Summer) (1999, Takeshi Kitano). Akaji Maro as Scary Man – homosexual as child molester.
• Dead or Alive: Final (2002, Takashi Miike). Richard Chen as Dictator Woo.
• Antiporno (2016, Sion Sono). Lesbianism as titillation.

• Los Olvidados (1950, Luis Buñuel). Charles Rooner as Pederasta elegante (‘elegant pederast’) (uncredited) – homosexual as child molester.
Sergio De La Mora, Cinemachismo: Masculinities and Sexuality in Mexican Film (2006).


• Bai yi (White Ant) (2016, Chu Hsien-Che).

• The Pleasure Garden (1925, Alfred Hitchcock) – ? as a costume designer.
• The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934, Alfred Hitchcock). Peter Lorre as Abbott.
• ‘Carry On’ films (1958-1978, 1992) – they would all qualify and are recommended viewing for anyone interested in a (very) British view of queerness. Gay actors included Kenneth Williams (26 films) and Charles Hawtrey (23 films), as well as Frankie Howerd (2 films), Amanda Barrie (2 films), and others.
• Lawrence of Arabia (1962, David Lean). Peter O’Toole as T. E. Lawrence; José Ferrer as the Turkish Bey.
• The Family Way (1966, Roy Boulting). Hywel Bennett as Arthur Fitton – heterosexual incompetency blamed as a sign of homosexuality.
• Deadfall (1968, Bryan Forbes). Eric Portman as Richard Moreau, and Carlos Pierre as Antonio.
• A Touch of Love (Thank You All Very Much) (1969, Waris Hussein). Ian McKellen as George Matthews.
• Entertaining Mr Sloane (1970, Douglas Hickox). Harry Andrews as Ed.
• Strip Jack Naked: Nighthawks II (1991, Ron Peck).
• Post-2000 I have stopped listing films as there is quantity and not quality – what is worth noting is included in list.
• Queerama (2017, Daisy Asquith). Various film clips spanning a century showing how homosexuality was portrayed.
Keith Howes, Broadcasting It: An Encyclopaedia of Homosexuality on Film, Radio and TV in the UK 1924-1993 (London: Cassell, 1993).
Stephen Bourne, Brief Encounters: Lesbians and Gays in British Cinema, 1930-1971 (London: Cassell, 1996).

‘Gay’ characters:
• Behind the Screen (1916, Charlie Chaplin). When Charles Chaplin as David (Goliath’s assistant) learns that Edna Purviance’s character is really a girl, he kisses her, at which point, a male stagehand enters and, thinking that Chaplin has kissed a man, starts acting in an overtly effeminate way until Chaplin kicks him.
• The Matinee Idol (1928, Frank Capra). David Mir as Eric Barrymaine.
• The Public Enemy (1931, William A. Wellman). ? as the tailor.
• Wonder Bar (1934, Lloyd Bacon, Busby Berkeley). A handsome man, asks a dancing couple if he could cut in, the female partner, expecting his attention, agrees, only to see him dance with her male partner. Al Jolson then flaps his wrist and says, “Boys will be boys! Woo!”
• Mary of Scotland (1936, John Ford). Douglas Walton as Lord Darnley.
• Bringing Up Baby (1938, Howard Hawks). Cary Grant as Dr. David Huxley (alias Mr. Bone) who in one scene is wearing a woman’s marabou-trimmed négligée and when asked why, he replies exasperatedly ‘Because I just went gay all of a sudden!’ (leaping into the air at the word ‘gay’).
• The Maltese Falcon (1941, John Huston). Peter Lorre as Joel Cairo; Sydney Greenstreet as Kasper Gutman; Elisha Cook, Jr. as Wilmer Cook.
• The Big Sleep (1946, Howard Hawks). Charles Waldron as General Sternwood.
• Dead Reckoning (1947, John Cromwell). Cast: Humphrey Bogart as Capt. ‘Rip’ Murdock; and William Prince as Sgt. Johnny Drake.
• Kiss of Death (1947, Henry Hathaway). Richard Widmark as Tommy Udo.
• Young Man with a Horn (1950, Michael Curtiz). Lauren Bacall as Amy North.
• Compulsion (1959, Richard Fleischer). Dean Stockwell as Judd Steiner (based on Nathan Leopold) and Bradford Dillman as Artie Strauss (based on Richard Loeb).
• Lilith (1964, Robert Rossen). Jean Seberg as Lilith Arthur; and Anne Meacham as Mrs. Yvonne Meaghan.
• Hot Thrills and Warm Chills (1967, Dale Berry). Lesbianism as titillation.
• Mondo Hollywood (1967, Robert Carl Cohen). Transsexuals.
• The Boston Strangler (1968, Richard Fleischer). Hurd Hatfield as Terence Huntley a rich, closeted homosexual who’s interrogated by Henry Fonda in a red-lit gay bar.
• All The Sins of Sodom (1968, Joseph W. Sarno). Lesbianism as titillation.
• The Lickerish Quartet (1970, Radley Metzger). Lesbianism as titillation.
• The Anderson Tapes (1971, Sidney Lumet). Martin Balsam as Tommy Haskins; Jack Doroshow as Eric.
• The Velvet Vampire (1971, Stephanie Rothman). Celeste Yarnall as Diane LeFanu – lesbian vampire.
• The Unholy Rollers (1972, Vernon Zimmerman). Betty Anne Rees as Mickey Martinez.
• Deliverance (1972, John Boorman). Rape of Ned Beatty as Bobby Trippe by Bill McKinney as Mountain Man.
• Papillon (1973, Franklin J. Schaffner). Robert Deman as André Maturette; and Allen Jaffe as Arab Turnkey.
• The Driller Killer (1979, Abel Ferrara). Harry Schultz II as Dalton Briggs, an art dealer [killed]. Plus lesbianism as titillation.
• Piranha II: The Spawning (1981, James Cameron). Ted Richert as Raoul the Hotel Manager.
• Crimes of Passion (1984, Ken Russell).
• Hail, Caesar! (2016, Joel and Ethan Coen). Channing Tatum as Burt Gurney, and Ralph Fiennes as Laurence Laurentz. Plus the musical number “No Dames!”

‘Lost in Adaptation’: many novels and plays with a ‘gay’ character or (sub)text were completely rewritten when adapted for a film – these include:
• Michael Arlen, ‘The Green Hat’ (1924). Theatre version: 1925. Film versions: ‘A Woman of Affairs’ (1928, Clarence Brown) starring Greta Garbo and John Gilbert – obscured/altered plot points concerning homosexuality and venereal disease; ‘Outcast Lady’ (1934, Robert Z. Leonard) starring Constance Bennett and Herbert Marshall.
• Lillian Hellman, ‘The Children’s Hour’ (1934). Hellman rewrote her play for the film adaptation ‘These Three’ (1936, William Wyler), changing the lie about the two female school teachers being lovers into a rumor that one of them had slept with the other’s fiancé. The title was also changed. Wyler would redirect the play in 1961 under its original title and plot (see ‘The Children’s Hour’ included in this list).
• Charles R. Jackson, ‘The Lost Weekend’ (1944). Don Birnam is described in the novel as being tormented by a homosexual incident in college. That is omitted from the film version ‘The Lost Weekend’ (1945, Billy Wilder).
• Richard Brooks, ‘The Brick Foxhole’ (1945). Homosexual references from the novel were removed for the film version ‘Crossfire’ (1947, Edward Dmytryk) and replaced with an anti-Semitic theme.
• Midnight Express (1978, Alan Parker). Bill Hayes did have a homosexual relationship while in prison but in the film, Brad Davis as Billy Hayes resists (non-violently) the advances of Norbert Weisser as Erich because studio executives were afraid a homosexual encounter would “diminish the hero’s otherwise ’All-American” appeal’. Hayes later commented that ‘I like the dreamlike quality of the scene, but I wish they’d have the steam come up and fade out. But I’m very happy that maybe somebody in the Midwest who is freaked out by the very idea of homosexuality can look at the scene and feel the delicacy of it. The line from my book expresses it best – “It’s only love”’.

Parker Tyler, Screening the Sexes: Homosexuality in the Movies (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1972; with new afterword by Charles Boultenhouse, New York: Da capo, 1993).
Wayne M. Bryant, Bisexual Characters in Film: From Anaïs to Zee (New York: Harrington, 1972).
Richard Dyer, ed., Gays and Films (London: British Film Institute, 1977; updated, 1984).
Vito Russo, The Celluloid Closet: Homosexuality in the Movies (New York: Harper and Row, 1981; rev. ed. 1987).
Thomas Waugh, The Fruit Machine: Twenty Years of Writings on Queer Cinema (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2000).
Richard Dyer, Now You See It: Studies on Lesbian and Gay Film (London: Routledge, 1990).
Andrea Weiss, Vampires and Violets: Lesbians in the Cinema (London: Cape, 1992).
Raymond Murray, Images in the Dark: an Encyclopaedia of Gay and Lesbian Film and Video (Philadelphia: TLA Publications, 1994).
Tamsin Wilton, ed., Immortal, Invisible: Lesbians and the Moving Image (London: Routledge, 1995).
Harry M. Benshoff, Monsters in the Closet: Homosexuality and the Horror Film (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1997).
Ellis Hanson, Out Takes: Essays on Queer Theory and Film (Durham: Duke University Press, 1999).
Alexander Doty, Flaming Classics: Queering the Film Cannon (New York: Routledge, 2000).
Thomas Waugh, The Fruit Machine: Twenty Years of Writings on Queer Cinema (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2000).
Michele Aaron, ed., New Queer Cinema: A Critical Reader (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2004).
Harry Benshoff and Sean Griffin, eds., Queer Cinema, The Film Reader (London: Routledge, 2004).
Drewey Wayne Gunn, The Gay Male Sleuth in Print and Film: A History and Annotated Bibliography (Scarecrow Press, 2005).
Steven Paul Davies, Out at the Movies: A History of Gay Cinema (Kamera Books, 2008).
Barbara Mennel, Queer Cinema: Schoolgirls, Vampires, and Gay Cowboys (Columbia University Press, 2012).
B. Ruby Rich, New Queer Cinema: The Director’s Cut (Duke University Press, 2013).
Andrew Grossman, ed. Queer Asian Cinema: Shadows in the Shade (New York: Harrington Press, 2000).
David William Foster, Queer Issues in Contemporary Latin American Cinema (University of Texas Press, 2003).
Gustavo Subero, Queer Masculinities in Latin American Cinema: Male Bodies and Narrative Representations (I. B. Tauris, 2013).

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