Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood
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Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood is the deliciously scandalous story of Scotty Bowers, a handsome ex-Marine who landed in Hollywood after World War II and became confidante, aide-de-camp and lover to many of Hollywood’s greatest male—and female— stars. In the 1940s and ‘50s, Scotty ran a gas station in the shadow of the studio lotswhere he would connect his friends with actors and actresses who had to hide their true sexual identities for fear of police raids at gay bars, societal shunning and career suicide. An unsung Hollywood legend, Bowers would cater to the sexual appetites of celebrities—straight and gay–for decades. While the studio PR machines were promoting their stars as wholesome and monogamous, Bowers was fulfilling the true desires of many of them. This cinéma-vérité documentary by director Matt Tyrnauer (Valentino: The Last Emperor) tells his story, as well as presents eyeopening takes on icons from the Hollywood Golden Age including Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Lana Turner, Ava Gardner and many more.
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Couple of comments: this is the latest from up-and-coming documentarian Matt Tymauer, whose previous film was the excellent "Citizen Jane: Battle For the City". Here he picks up on a long unknown fact, namely how one guy became the Hollywood king-pimp starting in the late 40s. Tymauer tries to take that fait divers to build a documentary about "gays and lesbians in Hollywood" over the years. Yes, there are glimpses here and there (in particular as we get to the AIDS era), but overall it feels like this film is a missed opportunity to do an in-depth look at that topic. Instead, we get a close look on someone who seems like a nice enough guy, but it is as if he stands in the way of a far more important documentary. The fact that we get sidetracked by the compulsive hoarding behavior only reinforces that feeling...
"Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood" premiered at last year's Toronto International Film Festival (yes, a year ago) to positive acclaim. The movie finally made it to my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati in mid-August. The Sunday early evening screening where I saw this at was attended so-so (about 10 people). If you are in the mood for a documentary that is brought mostly with a light touch (and very incomplete assessment) about how gays and lesbians got by in the Hollywood era of the 40s and 50s, I'd suggest you check this out, be it in the theater, on Amazon Instant Video, or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray and draw your own conclusion.
Pandering to the gay culture. Well, they got my dollar - blah!
Not too many
More than I can write at this time.
1 outta 10 (I had to give this a rating)
This is instead a sometimes slow and measured profile of an elderly man who happened to have had an unexpectedly, unplanned prominent role in the private lives of culterally prominent people. But the film is about Bowers and the prominent people and their stories are the backdrop here, spicing things up and giving context, but not eclipsing Bowers. Threading through are glimpses of his time in WW2, his surviving Buddys of his sexual heyday, his befuddled and somewhat disapproving wife, and the incidental queer activism of his life. Bowers went from hedonist to distract from trauma (which Mr. Bowers himself disputes) to Elder holding on to all possessions that cross his path as his life and story nears its close. If getting to know a profane and pithy, unapologetic Queer Elder who tells a good story doesn't interest you, give this fine Doc a pass. I was drawn in, concerned, uncomfortable, touched, and finally affectionate of this man. I appreciate his sharing his stories and his life.
PS (spoilery), Mr Bowers, I very much share your grief about the loss of your dog, and understand.
Beware of close minded reviews that only want to believe their favourite closeted stars were straight, rather than understanding they were human beings in a difficult position. We need more brave and empathetic role models like Scotty. I wish he were my friend. Great guy.