Today: April 14, 2024

Color Me Lavender

Hollywood’s squeamish fascination with gay eroticism and camp.

Hollywood’s squeamish fascination with gay eroticism and camp.

The Silver Screen’s Color Me Lavender (1998) and Rock Hudson’s Home Movies (1992), released on 1 Aug as part of Bounty Film’s Queer Culture Cinema series, certainly not do not pretend to be comprehensive reports of homosexuality in Hollywood’s Golden age. Light and fluffy, they are nothing more than an entertaining look at the desperate attempt to launder American cinema of even the faintest traces of being gay.

Narrated and presented by real-life gay actor Dan Butler, otherwise known as the ageing, womaning father on the US sitcom Frasier, Color Me Lavender takes a look at how gay sexuality was dealt with in films at a time when ‘homosexuality’ was still the unspoken word. Through the use of clips, the film uncovers the unmistakable homoerotic undercurrents, and the ambiguous behaviour that imbued the performances of Danny Kaye, Jerry Lewis, Cary Grant, and other film legends. Certainly, as promised by the press release, the documentary will change the way you look at butch westerns or the campy charades of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby in their Road To… buddy road movies forever.

Written, directed and edited by Mark Rappaport, Color Me Lavender, devoid of interviews with studio executives, actors, directors, screenwriters and the like, does not tell us anything new. Rapport spends too much time on some subject matters whilst making light of more important points such as by-the-by comment about the critically-acclaimed Crossfire (1947) based on a novel in which a bigoted Army sergeant kills a homosexual but the victim was changed to a Jew for the big screen.

Rock Hudson Movies, also written, directed and edited by Rappaport stretches out one point into a 100 minute documentary. The Celluloid Closet, the 1996 American documentary film directed and written by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, covers the same subject matter in less than five. In short, Rock Hudson was openly gay and the uncomfortable studio execs were not going to let him get away with it, punishing him with a series of humiliating emasculating onscreen roles. Or at least that is according to the film’s director. Rappaport chooses to narrate the doc through actor Eric Farr in the role of Hudson as he analyses his life as if from beyond the grave. What you have instead, seems to be Rappaport’s self-indulgent, rigid and passive aggressive agenda.

Both films are sweeping insights into the history of homosexuality in Hollywood – if you know absolutely nothing it. For a more indepth look, check out The Celluloid Closet.

Trailer: Color Me Lavender

To Buy Color Me Lavender On DVD, Go Here. To Buy Rock Hudson Movies On DVD, Go Here.

Marcia Degia - Publisher

Marcia Degia, who has worked in the media industry for more than 20 years, is the Publishing Editor of KOL Social Magazine. See website: thekolsocial.com

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