In November 2014 many were surprised to hear that a gay ‘porn’ short film was being planned that was supposedly written by acclaimed actor and Oscar-winner, John Gielgud (Arthur, Calugula, Chariots Of Fire). What was less surprising was the news that Gielgud’s estate wasn’t impressed with that idea and had apparently refused to give permission for it to be made, feeling it wasn’t ‘appropriate’.
However those behind ‘Trouser Bar’ went ahead anyway, which resulted in many wondering whether it would ever be able to be legally screened. After all, if Gielgud’s estate had said ‘no’ to making the film, surely it wouldn’t be possible to release the short? However, now the first screenings have been announced as part of Peccadillo Picture’s POUTfest LGBT film tour around the UK, and it should also appear on the DVD release of Boy On Film 15 – Time And Ties: Gay British Short Film Collection. The first screening is planned for July.
However, when it is screened Trouser Bar not be officially connected to Gielgud. Producer David McGillivray has told us, “Originally thought to be written by a celebrated theatrical knight, the film is now being released with its screenplay unattributed”.
He adds, “The John Gielgud Charitable Trust denies Sir John’s authorship of ‘Trouser Bar’ and therefore so must I.”
The Gielgud attribution is based on the word of the late ‘grandfather of gay porn’, Peter de Rome, who said the Trouser Bar script had been given to him by the actor as a project for Peter to direct, after Gielgud had enjoyed some of de Rome’s earlier gay porn shorts. de Rome never made the film, but eventually passed the script to McGillivray, producer of the documentaries Fragments: The Incomplete Films of Peter de Rome and Peter De Rome: Grandfather of Gay Porn.
Helmed by gay porn director Kristen Bjorn, Trouser Bar is set in a menswear shop in 1970s London, where there’s more than a taste of corduroy that’s on the mind of its young customers. The short also features cameos from Julian Clary, Barry Cryer and Nigel Havers, as passers-by looking through the window of the shop to see what’s going on inside.
It’s certainly an interesting situation as the John Gielgud Charitable Trust can only really object to the screenings by accepting it is the late actor’s work, and therefore that his only known produced screenplay is for a gay ‘porn’ short. There may still be some blowback, as previously the Estate has suggested they may think it is Gielgud’s work, telling the Daily Mail last November that, “Earlier this year, the trustees decided not give their permission for it to be produced because they didn’t think it was appropriate. They didn’t have to go into detail because they own the copyright.” However, unless the Charitable Trust does decide to officially claim it as the actor’s work, it is likely the screenings and DVD release can go ahead, but without an attribution or official link to Gielgud.