Hollywood Unchained: Queer Cinema at the Malba | A cycle of films produced before the Hays Code censorship

Hollywood Unchained: Queer Cinema at the Malba | A cycle of films produced before the Hays Code censorship
Hollywood Unchained: Queer Cinema at the Malba | A cycle of films produced before the Hays Code censorship

At the beginning, the Industrial cinema in the United States was made without imposed repressionswithout an institutionalized moralistic eye judging the relationships, sexuality and themes of the films. It did exist a negotiation of the contents with current laws, but not a strict control of the scripts before they could even be produced. That was more or less until the mid-1990s.
1934when a production code was imposed that was a blatant form of censorship on cinema Hollywoodknown as the Hays Codewhich prohibited homosexuality, among many other ways of being and acting on screen. Since the sound cinema of the late 1920s, films have been able to avoid censorship for five years, with some films becoming, whether they wanted to or not, a form of criticism of Hollywood through filmmakers and performers who challenged the chastity that the Hays Code would later impose on themThese are four of the paradises without the censorship of the code.

Musicals from another planet

Marlene
Dietrich
flew from the Berlin cabarets like a blue angel fallen in Hollywood. There, following the complicity of the filmmaker
Joseph Von Sternberg
continued to terrorize the world with her knife-wielding eroticism, sharp gazes and dagger-like legs. In the 1930s, Dietrich became the bisexual vamp that Sternberg’s vicious baroque created and recreated in a saga of studio films that threatened to make the musical drama sound like deviant eroticism.
The blonde Venus It is the duo’s fourth feature film in Hollywood and, of course, includes another of the musical drag shows where Marlene in a top hat and tails flirts on stage with a dancer with an odalisque look. Cary Grant The fact that he is one of her suitors makes the film queerer. But what is definitely unsurpassed in its mutant quality is the transformation of a gorilla into Marlene Dietrich with a blonde afro to perform the song Hot Voodoo in a shiny suit, fur and XXL pearls. An animalism that competes and wins in extravagance with any obscene musical sequence of Mae
West
which was made at that time. If the title calls the protagonist “Venus” it is because her strange seduction landed from another planet.

The blonde Venus (Blonde
Venus
,
EE.UU., 1932) c/Marlene Dietrich, Herbert Marshall, Cary Grant,
Dickie Moore, Gene Morgan, Rita La Roy, Sidney Toler. 93’. Thursday 11th, at 11pm.

Androgynous kisses

“The androgyne is certainly one of the best images of camp sensibility,” he wrote. Susan Sontag, and gave as an example “the pressing androgynous languor that lies behind the perfect beauty of Greta Garbo“. The Queen Christina played by Greta Garbo in this film is perhaps her greatest androgynous creation, the way of enthroning her acting aesthetic that ignores generic conventions to gain ground in the ambiguity of her biographical and cinematic adventures.

A Hollywood period drama set in Garbo’s homeland of Sweden, it serves as a masquerade for epicene theatre. The film creates a contrast between the virile, unadorned austerity of Garbo’s costumes and the male protagonists’ feathered hats, furs and ruffles. The project was developed by Salka Quartera lesbian and feminist screenwriter who collaborated on four other films with Garbo, and is responsible for the emotional relationship with explicit lesbian overtones between Queen Christina and her assistant Ebba, which includes the famous scene of a kiss on the mouth between the two. Close friends, Viertel was also responsible for introducing Garbo to the poet Mercedes de Acosta, who openly maintained lesbian relationships with other stars of the Golden Age of Hollywood.

Queen Christina (Queen
Christina
USA, 1933), directed by Rouben Mamoulian, with Greta Garbo, John Gilbert, Ian Keith, Lewis Stone, C. Aubrey Smith. 97′. Friday 12th, at 6pm.

Paradise chongos

After three films in Hollywood, the filmmaker FW Murnau made an alliance with the Canadian Robert Flaherty to film in the South Seas. Modeling a story started by Flaherty, the film directed by Murnau had the suggestive title of Taboo
and starred almost exclusively Tahitian natives from the Bora Bora Islands in the South Pacific Ocean. The first part of the film is called Paradise and begins with a sequence of six young fishermen with shapely bodies covered only by loincloths that leave their buttocks quite exposed, almost like a thong.

The group then bathes in a river: all wear crowns of leaves but one wears a female crown of flowers brought by the current. The homoeroticism of Murnau’s gaze is most noticeable when the women in the film generally appear more covered than the men. A week before the release of this film, Murnau died in a car accident caused, according to Kenneth Anger’s gossip in Hollywood
Babilonia
for having sex with the young man who was driving. Her posthumous work has no dialogues but the bodies of each performer say more than a thousand words.

Taboo
(USA, 1931), directed by Friedrich W. Murnau. 82′. Sunday 14th, at 8pm.

Starry Glam

The first sequence shows uncensored Hollywood glamor: while leafing through a magazine of movie stars, a woman puts stockings on her bare legs, corsetes herself in a dress, varnishes her lips with rouge in close-up and, finally, replaces Greta Garbo’s face in a photo in the magazine. The film
George Sugar It narrates the rise of a barmaid to Hollywood goddess and begins by summarizing in a single sequence the construction of that astronomical fiction called Movie Star, very much in the style of Manuel Puig.

The following sequence takes place in the legendary bar of the Hollywood bohemian scene, which includes lesbians, and a drunk filmmaker, with an uncomfortable sense of humor, little or no interest in women, played by Lowell Sherman, based somewhat on his own figure and that of another actor, John Barrimore. Although one could think that he is also an alter ego of Cukor, due to his sense of humor and because he was also a party-goer: the gay orgies he organized in his pool are famous. The truth is that this film is the unfiltered basis of A star Is Borna film that had many versions, the second of which in 1954, also directed by Cukor, became a camp classic, mainly thanks to the leading role of Judy Garland, the girl who sang about the rainbow.

The price of the fame (What
Price Hollywood?
,
EE.UU., 1932), dirigida por George Cukor, con Constance Bennett,
Lowell Sherman, Neil Hamilton, Gregory Ratoff, Brooks Benedict. 88’. Friday 19th, at 6pm.

 
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