Rapacious dykes, self-loathing closet cases, hustlers, ambiguous sophisticates, and sadomasochistic rich kids: most of what America thought it knew about gay people it learned at the movies. A fresh and revelatory look at sexuality in the Great Age of movie making, Screened Out shows how much gay and lesbian lives have shaped the Big Screen. Spanning popular American cinema from the 1900s until today, distinguished film historian Richard Barrios presents a rich, compulsively readable analysis of how Hollywood has used and depicted gays and the mixed signals it has given us: Marlene in a top hat, Cary Grant in a negligee, a pansy cowboy in The Dude Wrangler. Such iconoclastic images, Barrios argues, send powerful messages about tragedy and obsession, but also about freedom and compassion, even empowerment.
Mining studio records, scripts, drafts (including cut scenes), censor notes, reviews, and recollections of viewers, Barrios paints our fullest picture yet of how gays and lesbians were portrayed by the dream factory, warning that we shouldn't congratulate ourselves quite so much on the progress movies - and the real world -- have made since Stonewall.
Captivating, myth-breaking, and funny, Screened Out is for all film aficionados and for anyone who has sat in a dark movie theater and drawn strength and a sense of identity from what they saw on screen, no matter how fleeting or coded.
Richard Barrios, a native of Louisiana, lives in New York City. He is the author of A Song in the Dark: The Birth of the Musical Film. He holds degrees in cinema studies, music history, and literature, and has worked in the film industry and music publishing.