The Turner Classic Movies channel salutes Pride Month with a series of rarely seen gay and lesbian-themed films. Running Mondays and Wednesdays through the 27th from 8 pm, the 44-flick series is based on Hollywood historian Richard Barrios illuminating and witty 2003 text Screened Out: Playing Gay In Hollywood From Edison To Stonewall.
"Dozens, perhaps hundreds of Hollywood films made (before the introduction in July 1934 of the US government's Hays Office censorship codes) contain gay and lesbian characters, allusions, and situations," he writes. "This was mainstream pop culture, open and available to millions, and homosexuality was an accepted part of it. Audiences saw and understood."
All broadcast commercial-free, many of these Hays-butchered films have recently been restored with all the naughty bits the censors didn't want audiences to see. Here's June 4th's opening night line-up.
8 pm: ALGIE THE MINER (1912. dir: Alice Guy-Blanche, w/Billy Quirk) Film's first woman director tells the tale of an effeminate newlywed husband banished by his in-laws to the Wild West. (Silent)
8:30 pm: THE MONSTER (1925, dir: Roland West,w/Lon Chaney and Johnny Arthur) A milquetoast clerk (Arthur) undermines an evil mastermind (Chaney). But why does his girlfriend need pansy seeds? (Silent)
10:15 pm: EXIT SMILING (1926, dir: Sam Taylor, w/Beatrice Lillie and Franklin Pangborn) Unlikely Broadway romance blooms between Toronto-born Lillie and Hollywood's quintessential fop as one Cecil Lovelace. The first film for both. (Silent)
11:45 pm: BROADWAY MELODY (1929, dir: Harry Beaumont, w/Bessie Love and Del Turpe) The first talkie to win the Oscar for Best Picture, this all-singing all-dancing musical features a limp-wristed costume designer (Turpe) prone to big hats and hissy-fits. That's an uncredited legendary early jazz great guitarist Eddie Lang in the pit orchestra.
1:45 am: WAY OUT WEST (1930, dir: w/William Haynes) The screen's first out actor characteristically plays a wimp who visits a dude ranch to prove he's manly. Hint: his girlfriend's name is Pansy. Haynes was later drummed out of the film business over a sex scandal but quickly re-emerged as the interior decorator to the stars throughout the 30s and 40s.
3 am: THE OFFICE WIFE (1930, dir: Lloyd Bacon, w/Dorothy MacKaill and Lewis Stone) A mousy writer (MaKaill) falls under the spell of a tweedy dame with a monocle.
4:15 am: STAGE MOTHER (1933, dir: Charles Brabin, w/Maureen O'Sullivan and Franchot Tone) A star-struck chorine ignores Mom's advice and strikes a deal with a lisping acting coach.