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Sexual identity in classic films

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Her Motor Is Revving

 

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Ruth Gordon takes Bud Cort for a ride in HAROLD AND MAUDE.

 

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Interesting observations on Dietrich from Philosopedia.org :

 

Her only child, Maria Riva, shocked not a few with a 1993 biography that listed her mother’s lovers

... a who’s who of notables: newscaster Edward R. Murrow; generals James M. Gavin and George

S. Patton; actor Jean Gabin; novelist Erich Maria Remarque. There also were others: Edith Piaf,

John Gilbert, Gary Cooper, Maurice Chevalier, Yul Brynner, José Iturbi, Hans Jaray, Brian Aherne,

Adlai Stevenson, Michael Wilding, Mercedes de Acosta, Frank Sinatra.

 

Also, there was her husband - Rudolf Sieber - to whom she is said to have shown or sent all the

letters she received from her various lovers. Molly Haskell has written of Maria’s biography,

Marlene Dietrich (1993):

 

"Ms. Riva endorses Kenneth Tynan’s axiom that Dietrich 'has sex without gender,' but I would say

she is both genders, and she existed at a moment in time in a censored medium - romantic rather

than sexual, glorying in a language of innuendo rather than clinical categories - when it was

possible (in the von Sternberg-Dietrich masterpiece Morocco) to kiss a woman on the lips and

run off after a man in the desert sand, to be love object and love subject simultaneously. She

makes us wonder, safely, without having to lose sleep over it, what is a man and what is a woman,

after all, if so much of one can exist harmoniously in the other?"

 

 

 

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*Dietrich's answer as to why she had so many sexual partners: "They asked."*

 

http://philosopedia.org/index.php/Marlene_Dietrich

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Very interesting. There is a term called 'omnisexual' which may or may not pertain to Dietrich (and others).

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> {quote:title=TopBilled wrote:}{quote}Very interesting. There is a term called 'omnisexual' which may or may not pertain to Dietrich (and others).

 

Its closely-related "second cousin" is androgeny, something which Dietrich pulled off better than anyone but then she was a veteran of the Berlin nightclub scene of the 1920s..

 

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Mick Jagger's one of the very few men to attempt it when did movies in the early 70s ...

 

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What I find interesting about Dietrich is that I think she attracted all four: straight men, gay men, gay women and straight women. And she seemed comfortable doing so.

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Has anyone mentioned ... ?

 

TootsieREX_228x465.jpg

 

 

 

What elevates Tootsie from being a "men-in-drag movie" to a commentary on sexual identity is how much Hoffman's character learns about women's sexuality -- like how women struggle with on-the-job sexual harrassment.

 

Or like when Jessica Lange tells "Dorothy" that she wishes a guy would be (pardon the expression) straight with her about wanting to go bed ? Yet when Hoffman in guy-drag says it to her word-for-word, she throws a drink in his face.

 

 

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mr6666,

 

I love that Orlando was a TCM premiere this past week. It's one of my more off-beat favorite films, and I love the score.

 

Though not a movie star, Quentin Crisp's sexual identity had quite an impact and John Hurt portrayed him brilliantly in The Naked Civil Servant.

 

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I think there are some cross-dressing early movies like *the Devil Doll *that make you go huh?

Can't remember which at the moment, but there is a 20th-Century Fox musical from 1944 or thereabouts (they tend to blend in together in my mind), where there is a nightclub scene and all the "showgirls" in a musical number are big beefy guys in drag. It's really quite unsettling. I think it's IRISH EYES ARE SMILING (June Haver's first starring role), but it may be one featuring Vivian Blaine. Will have to look for my old VHS collection this weekend to see if I find it.

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Well, years before his Eric Von Zipper era, Harvey Lembeck here evidently did a good enough Betty Grable impression to at least make Robert Strauss forget for a minute that he was stuck in a German POW camp...

 

images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTYgo5jLStl2o9XvWT7qDY

 

(...does this count?) ;)

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Here is a list of some of them but I am thinking there is an early crime movie where the bad guy dresses as an old lady to keep from being detected.

 

 

 

# Morocco (1930) – Marlene Dietrich wears a tuxedo.

# Babes in Toyland (1934) – Stan Laurel masquerades as a woman in an attempt to deceive the villain.

# The Devil Doll (1936) – Lionel Barrymore plays an evil, elderly woman.

# Piętro wyżej (1937) – Eugeniusz Bodo sings a song Sex appeal on an official party, pretending to be a woman, introduced as "our home-made Mae West".

# Love Crazy (1941) – William Powell makes a rare appearance in drag in this screwball comedy.

# You're in the Army Now (1941) – Jimmy Durante appears in drag in this wartime comedy.

# The Dancing Masters (1943) – Stan Laurel appears in a variety of dancing costumes, including a rather extravagant ballerina dress.

# Abroad with Two Yanks (1944) – Both William Bendix and Dennis O'Keefe appear in drag in this wartime comedy.

# National Velvet (1944) – Elizabeth Taylor as Velvet Brown, who disguises herself as a male jockey, and trains a horse for the Grand National steeplechase.

# Dirty Gertie from Harlem U.S.A. (1946) – Spencer Williams as a female fortune teller.

# Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) – Alec Guinness plays Lady Agatha D'Ascoyne.

# I Was a Male War Bride (1949) – Cary Grant is a French officer who marries a US Army officer played by Ann Sheridan and cross-dresses to pass as a bride.

# Stalag 17 (1953) – Harry Shapiro (played by Harvey Lembeck) dresses up as a women to dance with Animal (played by Robert Strauss) in order to cheer him up during the Christmas celebration.

# Casanova's Big Night (1954) – Bob Hope appears in drag.

# The Matchmaker (1958) – Anthony Perkins and Robert Morse dress in drag to escape from the Harmonia Gardens restaurant.

# High Time (1960) Bing Crosby has to dress as a Southern belle as part of college initiation.

# Jules and Jim (Jules et Jim) (1962) – Jeanne Moreau's character Catherine briefly cross-dresses as Thomas.

# Thunderball (1965) – A former enemy of Bond fakes his death and poses as his own widow in the prologue segment.

# The Glass Bottom Boat (1966) – Paul Lynde dresses in drag as a disguise.

# The Producers (1968) – Roger De Bris (Christopher Hewett) appears in a women's evening gown and tiara.

# Robin Hood (1973) – Robin Hood and Little John dress as two elderly female fortune-tellers to rob Prince John's wagon.

 

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I wanted to throw these pictures into the thread, because I think this is a very interesting story, both in real life and on screen. The sexuality of the two men has never been really nailed down. Though one of them did die in prison after the amorous advances of a fellow inmate turned violent.

 

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Leopold and Loeb in real life...

 

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...depicted in ROPE...

 

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...and COMPULSION.

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What about Peter Pan? It's a male role, but a lot of women have done it. The earliest I can find is Betty Bronson in 1924. Mary Martin did it on Broadway and on tv. The men who've played the role have been on the effeminate side.

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> {quote:title=Capuchin wrote:}{quote}What about Peter Pan? It's a male role, but a lot of women have done it. The earliest I can find is Betty Bronson in 1924. Mary Martin did it on Broadway and on tv. The men who've played the role have been on the effeminate side.

Hmmm ... sexual identity and Peter Pan ...

 

There's a joke in there somewhere but it's probably too blue.

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When it comes to conflicted sexual identity in films, I always think of Mercedes McCambridge in that incredibly over the top western, Johnny Guitar.

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>When it comes to conflicted sexual identity in films, I always think of Mercedes McCambridge in that incredibly over the top western, Johnny Guitar.

 

Yes, I can see where audiences would find her sexually ambiguous in this picture, to say the least.

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also, lon chaney cross-dresses as an old woman in both versions (1925, 1930) of _the unholy three_.

 

Here is a list of some of them but I am thinking there is an early crime movie where the bad guy dresses as an old lady to keep from being detected.
 

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