The Celluloid Closet

Director: Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman
Year Released: 1995
Rating: 2.5

Well-meaning but bare-bones documentary based on the Vito Russo text that explores the depiction of homosexuality throughout the cinema's history. It brings up many compelling ideas and concerns - about the use of flamboyant gays as comic relief, about working around the Hays Code and various forms of censorship, about how 'coded' gay figures often die at the end 'as punishment' (Hanks in Philadelphia) - and even brings to light some things many viewers might have 'missed' (the bath scene in Spartacus, Vidal's subtext in Ben Hur). Still, it's more of a Cliff's Notes approach to queer theory than anything - compare/contrast with the excellent film essay by Mark Rappaport, Rock Hudson's Home Movies, which meticulously dissects and analyzes various scenes and gestures in the late actor's oeuvre.