There are a lot of gay movie out there, but most get released with little fanfare or have disappeared into the mists of time, so it’s sometimes difficult find information about them, and even if you can, it’s often tough to know it they’re worth watching. I thought therefore it might be worth putting together a list of 10 gay flicks I reckon it’s worth checking out, which are entertaining but try to do something a little different from the usual. The list concentrates on those films that, unlike Milk and Philadelphia, didn’t get a major mainstream push, and which show the breadth of what gay cinema has tried to do over the years, from horror movies and musicals to roms coms and animation. So here we go…
Un Chant D’Amour (1950)
While due to its taboo nature and illegality in most countries, explicitly gay films were rare before the 1970s, that didn’t put off Jean Genet, who was the enfant terrible of gay cinema before there was a gay cinema to be an enfant terrible of (although he’s primarily known as a playwright). His 25-minute film, Un Chant D’Amour, is all about the forbidden lust and passions of a bunch of prisoners, with the prison bars being an obvious metaphor for the situation most gay men found themselves in at the time. It’s surprisingly explicit, and due to its nature was initially only made for distribution as limited edition prints for private collectors, until it finally got a wider audience in the 1970s.
The Boys In The Band (1970)
More an interesting document than a truly good movie, The Boys In The Band was Hollywood’s first attempt to make a film with predominantly gay characters, and it stands as a testament to life during the transition between homosexuality being hidden and illegal, and it coming out into the open. A group of friends gather for Harold’s party, with their self-deprecating humour taking a nasty turn as they get increasingly drunk, and they start to reveal how much they hate themselves. Although to modern eyes it comes across as a lot of stereotypical bitchy gay people being horrible to one another and loathing themselves, many have said that at the time life for many homosexuals was pretty much like that, making Boys In The Band an interesting way to see how far gay life has come.
Latter Days (2003)
Although a gay rom com shouldn’t be particularly of note, the interesting thing about Latter Days is it’s a rare case of a gay film that feels as if it could have been made by a Hollywood studio, even though it’s actually a low budget indie effort. Writer/Director C. Jay Cox had just finished writing the Reese Witherspoon movie Sweet Home Alabama when he embarked on Latter Days, the story of a young Mormon who heads to LA to be a missionary, but gets more than he bargained for when the new neighbour brings out feelings he’d tried to keep hidden. It may get very melodramatic at the end, but it’s well worth checking out.
Were The World Mine (2008)
Although a gay musical might not seem that unusual (some would wonder if there were any other kind of musical), there aren’t as many as you’d think, and ever fewer as good as Were The World Mine. Made on an almost non-existent budget, it tells the story of a gay teen who’s used to being picked on, but finds the story of A Midsummer Night’s Dream coming to life when he creates a potion that makes someone fall in love with the first person they see. What the film achieves with so little money is impressive, and the score is utterly sublime. It’s one of the best gay flicks of the past five years.
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