Bisexual films at the TCM Classic Film Festival

Annex - Lanchester, Elsa (Witness for the Prosecution)_01The old classic films sometimes have bisexual content that is hinted at, but not expressly talked about, yet you can see them in Hollywood this weekend at the TCM Classic Film Festival. And, there are  out and open celebrities who will be talking about the classic movies.

Enjoy this list for this year’s TCM Classic Film Festival: Here is some of the bi content.

* Bisexual actor Anthony Perkins is the creepy star of this classic horror film which also has a very detailed primer on transvestism at the end. It’s far more frightening on the big screen, and you probably have never seen it that way.

Denzel Washington’s incredible role as bisexual civil rights activist “Malcolm X” is one of Spike Lee’s most notable achievements in filmmaking. It took two decades for the movie to get made, with help from Oprah Winfrey and Bill Cosby.

* Greta Garbo stars in “Queen Christina” at the festival where she plays Sweden’s most famous queen in this historical fiction. She dresses like a man and there’s a hint of a romance with one of her ladies-in-waiting played by Elizabeth Young, and she has a torrid romance with a Spanish envoy portrayed by John Gilbert, who was a former fiance in real life.

* Katharine Hepburn, who has been labelled bisexual in plenty of biographies, is featured in a lot of tough feminist roles this year. You can see her in Adam’s Rib, The Philadelphia Story, The Lion in Winter and The Desk Set at the festival.

* Shirley MacLaine is a character, and has played many characters in her career with seeming fluid sexuality. She’s giving a poolside talk and the going to the screening of “The Children’s Hour” to talk about how the lesbianism was emasculated in that film. She’s joked about being a lesbian in a past life, and having flings with bisexual men.

* The 1949 movie “Too Late for Tears” stars smoky-voiced Lizabeth Scott, whose career was sidelined with a scandal involving lesbians and a prostitution ring. Although theblonde bombshell was outed in 1954 as a lesbian, she later had successful marriages but never regained her fame on the big screen.

*Actors Elsa Lanchester and Charles Laughton were long rumored to be “beards” for each other, but they still had plenty of on-screen chemistry. There’s a collection of home movies from the Academy Film Archive that will include a visit with Charles Laughton and Elsa Lanchester, Jane Withers at work and play, Sophia Loren on location, Steve McQueen with his family and more. It’s a rare screening presented by Randy Haberkamp, Managing Director of Programming, Education & Preservation for the Motion Picture Academy and Lynne Kirste, Special Collections Curator at the Archive.lawrenceofarabia1

* Lots of tragedies surround “Rebel Without a Cause,” the biggest which is that the film was released a month after he died in a car accident, and so he never got to see the cult status of the film. He got a post-humous nomination for the role of the troubled youth who has a girlfriend Judy (Natalie Wood) and an adoring young friend Plato (Sal Mineo) who follows him around like a puppy. Of course, Wood later drown in a boating accident and Mineo was murdered outside his house. The screenwriter Stewart Stern added subtle hints that Mineo’s character was gay and therefore made him the silver screen’s first great gay tragic figure.

* Out and open director Randal Kleiser will talk about his film “Grease” around the pool at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel (and the bottom of the pool was painted by gay artist David Hockney). The 1978 top-grossing film stars Olivia Newton-John as Sandy and rough guy John Travolta as Danny Zucko and sorta lesbian Rizzo played by Stockard Channing.

HattieMcDanielhot 2015-03-25 at 6.49.55 PM* Not only was she the first black actress to win an Academy Award (for “Gone With the Wind”), Hattie McDaniel may have been the first lesbian to win an Oscar, (or maybe not). Anyway, there’s a reputable book out that says the actress was a favorite of Greta Garbo (who also has a few films in the festival). She was also married to men five times.   Anyway, there’s a “Character Actors 101” seminar that includes Hattie as well as characters such as Franklin Pangborn, ZaSu Pitts, Eugene Pallette, Edna May Oliver, Frank McHughand on and on….. Bruce Goldstein, who is an award-winning repertory program director of New York’s Film Forum, will present this look at stars of Classic Hollywood.

* The bisexuality in David Lean’s “Lawrence of Arabia” is subtle, but it is reflected in the character that’s brilliantly portrayed by Peter O’Toole in his first major film role. Editor Anne V. Coates ACE will be on hand to discuss the film and some of the1989 restoration. They discovered that prints in 1966were flipped from left to right and they fixed it, among other things.

Mike Szymanski
Mike Szymanski has written about bisexual issues since 1989 and has one of the longest-running regular bisexual columns as the National Bisexuality Examiner. He came out as bisexual in a cover story of Genre magazine, which resulted in more than 50 television appearances, including Ricki Lake, Phil Donahue Show and 20/20. Szymanski won the Lambda Literary Award in 2007 for co-authoring an informative humor book “The Bisexual’s Guide to the Universe: Quips, Tips and Lists for Those Who Go Both Ways.” Write him at [email protected]