Judy, Jimmy Dean And More…There’s A Feast For Gay Fans At TCM Film Festival


“Judy, Judy, Judy.” This line of dialogue attributed to Cary Grant was actually never uttered by the screen idol, but it will likely be heard a lot this week in Hollywood. The 2014 TCM (that’s Turner Classic Movies) film festival will present big screen presentations of three Judy Garland classics (The Wizard of Oz, Meet Me in St. Louis and Easter Parade), as well as a discussion of her legendary film career. However, this tribute to the entertainer who is perhaps the greatest gay icon of them all is just the tip of the cinematic iceberg for queer cinema fans. Besides Oz, 75th anniversary-screenings of Gone With the Wind and The Women confirm the notion that 1939 was Old Hollywood’s pinnacle. Bisexual leading men Montgomery Clift and James Dean return to steam up the screen in The Heiress and East of Eden, as will their favorite leading lady/AIDS activist Elizabeth Taylor in Father of the Bride and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Bette Davis and Joan Crawford will shred the scenery in their decrepit mansion once again in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? and Big and Little Edie Beales redefine codependency in theirs in the gay-worshipped documentary Grey Gardens. Part of the fun at festivals like this is discovering new movies. While most of these films are frequently screened on cable and at retro cinemas around the globe, be on the lookout for some of the more obscure flicks. One such film is the witty rarely-seen comedy On Approval with a dazzling performance by comic actress Beatrice Lillie. So if you’ve already caught the latest Marvel Comics adventure and happen to be in SoCal, brush up on your cinema history with the dozens of bona-fide classic alternatives here.

The festival takes place in Hollywood April 10-13. For more information, go here. Scroll down to see some of our picks for films you shouldn’t miss.


Bell, Book and Candle (1959)

What’s gay about it: In this spellbinding rom-com from gay writer John Van Druten, it’s easy to read Kim Novak and her family of zany witches living clandestinely in New York’s Greenwich Village as a parable for mid-century queer folk.


Blazing Saddles (1973)

What’s gay about it: Mel Brooks’ crude, ribald send-up of westerns features Harvey Korman as a gay-ish villain and the brilliant Madeline Kahn in an Oscar-nominated turn as a lusty Dietrich-esque entertainer.


Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)

What’s gay about it: Tennessee Williams’ searing Southern drama about a closeted former athlete drinking away the misery over the death of his close male friend was watered down for its transfer to the big screen, but powerful performances by Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor help preserve its queer subtext.


East of Eden (1955)

What’s gay about it: Bisexual icon James Dean was launched to stardom with his role as a teen desperate for his father’s love in this adaptation of the John Steinbeck novel. Some scenes with actor Richard Davalos, who played the brother of Dean’s character, were rumored to be excised for being too homoerotic.


Gone With The Wind (1939)

What’s gay about it: Overlooking its dated racial politics, GWTW remains Hollywood’s greatest epic achievement and most magnificent melodrama! If that’s not enough, every LGBT person who’s ever been oppressed by society can see his or her own struggles reflected in Scarlett (Vivien Leigh)’s fight to save her beloved home and obsession with the wrong man.


Grey Gardens

What’s gay about it: Except for Truth or Dare, have you ever heard anyone quote dialogue from a documentary? This look at Big and Little Edie Beales squabbling in their run-down Hamptons mansion is imminently quotable and at once jaw-droppingly loony and heartbreaking.


The Heiress (1949)

What’s gay about it: The Oscar-winning film adaptation of Henry James’ classic novel about a plain but wealthy spinster (Olivia deHavilland) trying to find love stars Montgomery Clift at the height of his beauty. This should be sufficient.


The Innocents (1961)

What’s gay about it: Screenwriter Truman Capote’s fingerprints are all over this chilling adaptation of Henry James’ ghost story Turn of the Screw. Plus, it contains one of the great Deborah Kerr’s most haunting performances.

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Johnny Guitar (1954)

What’s gay about it: Besides Joan Crawford duded up as a cowboy in this luridly colorful western from bisexual director Nicholas Ray, there’s rich lesbian subtext in her scenes with villainous Mercedes McCambridge.

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The Lion in Winter (1968)

What’s gay about it: Bisexual star Katharine Hepburn had one of her finest roles and some of her most cutting dialogue ever as Eleanor of Aquitaine in this Oscar-winning period piece which is anything but stodgy. Plus, many historians believe Richard the Lionhearted (played here by Anthony Hopkins) was gay.


Stella Dallas (1937)

What’s gay about it: Tough-talking star Barbara Stanwyck remains one of the most enduring lesbian icons in all of cinema and this tale of a sacrificing unwed mother is her greatest tear-jerker.

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Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)

What’s gay about it: This is gay rite-of-passage movie viewing, people. It’s the ultimate Hollywood Grand Guignol with juicy late-career performances from Joan Crawford as a crippled former film star and Bette Davis as her unstable sister. You should have already seen it more than once.


The Wizard of Oz (1939)

What’s gay about it: Where to begin? According to most theories, the term “friend of Dorothy,” that once-ubiquitous code for gays, originated with this beloved musical due to its heroine being so accepting of those who are different. Plus, this is Judy Garland at her most youthful and appealing. It goes without saying that this classic musical demands repeat viewings.


The Women (1939)

What’s gay about it: This sparkling comedy bitchfest about a group of female friends (Joan Crawford, Norma Shearer, Rosalind Russell) faced with divorce is another rite-of-passage flick, and it contains some of the cattiest dialogue ever uttered on film.

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  • jckfmsincty

    In “The Innocents”, Deborah Kerr gives one of the best performances ever recorded on film.

  • stranded

    Except for East of Eden and Johnny Guitar, i love all those movies.

  • Jonty Coppersmith

    Bell,Book and Candle is one of my all time favorites.

  • hotboyvb81

    What’s gay about Lion in Winter…ah- the gay sub plot with Richard and Philip- come on!!! What’s gay about Blazing Saddles- the musical number with Dom DeLuise at the end.You guys don’t research much, do you???

  • millhouse

    Some of my favorites, despite all of these films being made well before I was born. As for The Heiress however, that film is all about Olivia de Havilland. Monty Cliff is little more than a prop for her in an incredibly deserving best actress role.

  • northwest

    I can watch The Heiress (the ending kicks ass), The Innocents, The Wizard of Oz over and over and never get tired of them. TCM is a treasure.

  • loafersguy

    @Jonty Coppersmith: Mine too…and what a cast. Kim Novak, James Stewart, Jack Lemmon, Ernie Kovacs, Hermione Gingold, Elsa Lanchester and Janice Rule. It’s a very underrated film.

  • DK

    Nice, I’ll be going to three of these:

    Baby Jane (Bette Davis gives what many have called the best performance put on film, and I agree);

    The Heiress (Monty was my first crush and is my favorite actor, even though he was dead almost thirty years by the time I was born);

    and Oz (maybe the greatest movie ever made, certainly in my top 3)


  • dommyluc

    @jckfmsincty: I totally agree. Kerr is one of my all-time favorites, and a stunning woman, which many forget. Her flashback scenes in “Black Narcissus” are ravishing.

  • dommyluc

    Looking at that animated pic of Kim Novak, you can see how James Stewart fell hopelessly (and eternally) in love with her character in “Vertigo”. Also, she was great in “Picnic” (the dance scene with William Holden is sex on a stick) and as the woman in love with a much older man in “Middle of the Night”. She was also extremely funny in Billy Wilder’s “Kiss Me, Stupid”. A beautiful, sexy actress with more talent than many ever gave her credit for. Sometimes in “Vertigo” it is hard to believe the two characters are played by the same person.

  • sejjo

    What the hell’s wrong with Hollywood? They don’t make movies like this anymore. And I could watch Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (and A Streetcar Named Desire) a hundred times just to drool over Paul Newman and Marlon Brando’s disgusting handsomeness!

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