Lauren Bacall ( left ) in Designing Woman.
We're well into Pride month and Turner Classic Movies ( TCM ) has been celebrating the history of Our People in the movies with an excellent series of rarely-seen queer-tinged films stretching from the silent era to the early 1970s—over 65 years of cinematic history packed into the 44 entries. The series is entitled Screened Out: Gay Images in Film, and Turner Classics is not only devoting Monday and Wednesday nights to programming, but the channel is giving it the special-feature treatment. TCM is featuring specially-created documentary vignettes with comments from current gay entertainers and filmmakers such as Alan Cumming, Charles Busch, Armistead Maupin, Michael Musto and Richard Barrios, whose book provided the inspiration for the series. Barrios and TCM's affable regular host, Robert Osborne, also offer trivia-packed introductions for 30 of the films.
But wait; there's more. In addition to the screenings, the new documentary featurettes and a detailed breakdown on each of the films at the TCM Web site, www.tcm.com, TCM has partnered with AOL to create a mini-Web site specifically devoted to Screened Out; said site, gayandlesbian.aol.com/screenedout, includes instant access to the newly-created featurettes, movie trailers and more.
Each night of Screened Out is themed. Here's the rest of the schedule and themes, with screening times adjusted for Chicago:
June 13—'The Dark Side: Film Noir and Crime'
7 p.m.: The Big Combo ( 1955 )
9 p.m.: Suddenly, Last Summer ( 1959 )
11 p.m.: Reflections in a Golden Eye ( 1967 )
1 a.m.: Gilda ( 1946 )
3 a.m.: The Maltese Falcon ( 1941 )
7 p.m.: The Uninvited ( 1944 )
9 p.m.: The Picture of Dorian Gray ( 1945 )
11 p.m.: Voodoo Island ( 1957 )
12:30 a.m.: The Haunting ( 1963 )
2:30 a.m.: The Seventh Victim ( 1943 )
7 p.m.: Manhattan Parade ( 1931 )
8:30 p.m: Sylvia Scarlett ( 1936 )
10:15 p.m.: Turnabout ( 1940 )
11:45 p.m.: That Touch of Mink ( 1962 )
1:30 a.m.: The Producers ( 1968 )
3:15 a.m.: Designing Woman ( 1957 )
7 p.m.: Tea and Sympathy ( 1956 )
9:15 p.m.: Advise and Consent ( 1962 )
11:45 p.m.: The Children's Hour ( 1961 )
1:45 a.m.: Walk on the Wild Side ( 1962 )
3:45 a.m.: Victim ( 1961 )
June 27—'Out and Open'
7 p.m.: Staircase ( 1969 )
9 p.m.: The Fox ( 1967 )
11 p.m.: The Boys in the Band ( 1970 )
1:15 a.m.: The Killing of Sister George ( 1968 )
For those used to overtly queer cinema and TV offerings like Another Gay Movie, Eating Out, Queer as Folk, The L Word and Noah's Arc, many of the films in the TCM line-up will be so outdated as to be laughable, frustrating and sad, which Cumming notes in one of his interviews for the series. But Screened Out offers the fleshed-out, detailed history of gays and lesbians at the movies that the excellent documentary The Celluloid Closet could only encapsulate. And embracing and understanding our history and place in movies—still this country's greatest cultural equalizer—is essential, I think, for our creative growth and place within that culture. Noting the huge leaps we've made onscreen in just the last 10 years is a bonus that the series brings to mind.
—Steel City is an excellent working-class family drama set in a small Illinois town with Tom Guiry, John Heard, Laurie Metcalf and Ugly Betty star America Ferrera. The film, made by writer-director Brian Jun, was screened at last fall's Chicago International Film Festival to good reviews—good enough that it's now getting a one-week exclusive release at the Landmark Century Centre Cinema beginning June 15.
—The Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted, presents the second part of Action! AIDS Activism through Art, Film and Video on June 14. A program of documentary shorts and features focused on the fight against AIDS, this second in the two-part series picks up with works from the 1990s and through the present day. Third World countries coping with the AIDS epidemic are highlighted and Pills Profits Protest, a documentary film about global AIDS activism and access to HIV drugs, ends the 150-minute program. The series has been curated by David Getsy, Ph.D, an instructor of queer and transgender theory at the Art Institute of Chicago. Tickets are $10 at the door. 6-10 p.m. 773-472-6469 x245.
—Yours truly joins a trio of arts critics on a panel moderated by Chicago Tonight correspondent Eddie Arruza on June 14 on WTTW-11 at 7 p.m. The discussion focuses on—what else?—the importance of arts criticism and the effect of the Internet on its value. Watch for me to get frustrated and actually use the word 'kerfuffle.'
See www.windycitytimes.com or www.knightatthemovies.com . People can leave feedback at the latter Web site, where they can order my new book of film reviews, Knight at the Movies 2004-2006.