The Celluloid Closet
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Based on Vito Russo's groundbreaking 1981 work of film history, The Celluloid Closet gathers clips from dozens of mainstream Hollywood films to illustrate how the movies have dealt explicitly -- and more importantly, implicitly -- with gay and lesbian themes. Layered between the clips are interviews with filmmakers whose works have touched on that subject. The popular films of the Golden Age could only hint at homosexuality and often portrayed gays as simpering characters, objects of scorn or merriment, or insidious villains. With the strictures of the old Production Code loosening, bolder… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"Makes it clear Hollywood wanted it both ways: It benefitted from the richness that gays added to films, but didn't want to acknowledge their sexuality."
‑ Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
"How ironic that a movie about the dangers of the closet would so confine one's freedom of interpretation."
‑ Rob Nelson, City Pages, Minneapolis/St. Paul
"An engaging documentary touching on Hollywood's on screen treatment of homosexuality."
‑ Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews
"Like a scrapbook of movie memorabilia from some of the greatest films ever made, it's a welcome look back at the ever-changing times of the world around us."
‑ Patrick Byrne, Apollo Guide
"The filmmakers have gathered together a staggering array of the moving images that the book could only show in still form or verbal description."
‑ Marjorie Baumgarten, Austin Chronicle
"Top-notch entertainment, not only because it's enjoyable, but because it argues its case with an effectiveness that would impress even a top-notch, homophobic attorney."
‑ James Berardinelli, ReelViews
"Instead of an angry diatribe against Hollywood, the film shrewdly opts for a wity, often campy commentary by gay figures (Gore Vidal), directors (Wyler) and actors (Tom Hanks) who shed light on the context in which these films were made and viewed."
‑ Emanuel Levy, EmanuelLevy.Com
"Rock Hudson was gay? Who knew?"
‑ Michael A. Smith, Nolan's Pop Culture Review
"this documentary makes it plain that Hollywood has hardly been a leader in social causes,"
‑ John A. Nesbit, Old School Reviews
"Although the film will clearly appeal to homosexuals and to film buffs, I believe that anyone seeing this documentary will find it an absolutely engrossing and fascinating movie."
‑ Steve Rhodes, Internet Reviews
"It's interesting to see how gay and lesbian themes began to be treated openly in films, but it's fascinating to see how -- earlier -- those themes were used subtextually in films that make no overt reference to the real subject."
‑ Stanley Kauffmann, The New Republic
"It's engrossing, brings a healthy sense of humor to the discussion, and enlightening without being bludgeoning."
‑ Mark Bourne,
"Entertaining but ultimately shallow."
‑ Ken Hanke, Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
"Even if The Celluloid Closet ... isn't quite the most perfectly political piece of filmmaking that you'd expect (or hoped) it would be, it's still a pretty convincing argument and, what's more, likably entertaining."
‑ Joe Baltake, Sacramento Bee
"No less than a primer in the power of movies to redefine human nature and behavior."
‑ Bruce Kirkland, Jam! Movies
More reviews for The Celluloid Closet on Rotten Tomatoes