The Celluloid Closet is a fascinating and lighthearted documentary detailing Hollywood’s portrayal of LGBT people in film through the 20th century, definitely one of the best LGBT documentaries out there.

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Narrated by: Lily Tomlin

Documentary directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, already well-established for bringing gay issues to a mainstream film audience, examined the representation of homosexuality in the film industry itself in this absorbing study. Based on a 1981 book by Vito Russo and narrated by Lily Tomlin, the film states upfront that in one hundred years of cinema history, homosexuality has rarely been acknowledged, and only then for laughs, pity, or fear. As the film continues, it details the prevailing trends in the depiction of gays during each decade, showing how the visibility of homosexuals began to increase and evolve. Interviews with Tom Hanks, Susan Sarandon, Gore Vidal, and Harvey Fierstein, among others, are notable additions to this illuminating and entertaining feature.

 

Reviews

Top-notch entertainment, not only because it's enjoyable, but because it argues its case with an effectiveness that would impress even a top-notch, homophobic attorney.
Makes it clear Hollywood wanted it both ways: It benefitted from the richness that gays added to films, but didn't want to acknowledge their sexuality.