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LGBT Pride Movie Series: From Rudolph Valentino to the Rise of Nazism & Beach Party Mystery

(See previous post: “Gay Pride Movie Series Comes to a Close: From Heterosexual Angst to Indonesian Coup.”) Ken Russell's Valentino (1977) is notable for starring ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev as silent era icon Rudolph Valentino, whose sexual orientation, despite countless gay rumors, seems to have been, according to the available evidence, heterosexual. (Valentino's supposed affair with fellow “Latin LoverRamon Novarro has no basis in reality.) The female cast is also impressive: Veteran Leslie Caron (Lili, Gigi) as stage and screen star Alla Nazimova, ex-The Mamas & the Papas singer Michelle Phillips as Valentino wife and Nazimova protégée Natacha Rambova, Felicity Kendal as screenwriter/producer June Mathis (The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse), and Carol Kane – lately of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt fame.

Bob Fosse's Cabaret (1972) is notable as one of the greatest musicals ever made. As a 1930s Cabaret presenter – and the Spirit of Germany – Joel Grey was the year's Best Supporting Actor Oscar winner.

Liza Minnelli won a Best Actress Oscar for her performance as the cabaret performer who becomes involved with a visiting Englishman (Michael York, whose character is based on Christopher Isherwood) and a handsome German aristocrat (Helmut Kriem). This is an actual triangle, as all points are physically connected.

Isherwood wrote the story “Goodbye to Berlin,” which was the basis for John Van Druten's play I Am a Camera – on which Cabaret is based. Jill Haworth had Minnelli's role in the Broadway musical. Back in the 1950s, Julie Harris and Laurence Harvey starred in the big-screen version of I Am a Camera for director Henry Cornelius. Harris had also played the role on stage.

There's much to appreciate about Cabaret – the acting, the music, the choreography, the direction, the cinematography, the editing – but there's one scene that's particular striking in this day and age. That's the moment when a blond, angelic-looking teenager starts singing John Kander and Fred Ebb's “Tomorrow Belongs to Me” at a beer garden located in an idyllic, pastoral countryside.

As Fosse's camera moves down a bit, we realize that the teenager is a Hitler Youth member. Soon enough, most others – just “common folk,” men and women, young and mature – stand up and join in the chorus all the way to the rousing finale.

The deadly menaces found in most horror/adventure movies – think Alien, The Haunting, War of the Worlds, The Fog, Contagion, Man of Steel, The Avengers and facsimile – aren't nearly as disturbing or as frightening as these effusive, patriotic, family-loving, and surely God-fearing people. At least when you see Alien: Covenant's xenomorphs or Tom Hiddleston's Loki, you know right away what you're getting.

The handsome Hitler Youth singer, Oliver Collignon, is now a Berlin-based architect. In Cabaret, he was reportedly dubbed by Mark Lambert, who decades later would land small roles in movies such as Borstal Boy and Breakfast on Pluto – both of which, coincidentally, revolve around LGBT characters.

Shot on or in the vicinity of Catalina Island, just southwest of Los Angeles, Lee Sholem's Catalina Caper (1967) is supposed to be such a terrible movie that it must be a must-see. Starring Tommy Kirk, the mystery/youth flick features dancing teenagers, a stolen Chinese scroll, and Little Richard – which sounds like a logical sequel to 1960s Southern California-set beach movies like Beach Blanket Bingo and How to Stuff a Wild Bikini.

Although not officially part of TCM's Gay Pride Month film series, “MGM Parade Show #30” features Walter Pidgeon discussing the early film career of the sexually ambiguous Greta Garbo.

The Susan Hayward birthday celebration on Friday – the 1958 Oscar winner (for I Want to Live!) would have turned 100 – is not directly related to LGBT issues, but whatever your sexual orientation, make sure to check out her movies.

One of them is I'll Cry Tomorrow (1955), in which Hayward delivers what could well be the best performance of her career, playing alcoholic actress/singer Lillian Roth (The Love Parade, Madam Satan). Hayward was shortlisted for the Best Actress Oscar, but lost to Anna Magnani in The Rose Tattoo. (She had previously played an alcoholic in the 1947 drama Smash-Up: The Story of a Woman, which earned her her first Oscar nod.)

Just as good is that year's Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner, Jo Van Fleet, as Hayward's mother. Van Fleet took home the Oscar for playing another tough mom, James Dean's, in East of Eden.

Reminder: This two-part post is being revised and expanded. Please check back later.

8:00 PM WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? (1966). Dir.: Mike Nichols. Cast: Elizabeth Taylor. Richard Burton. George Segal. Sandy Dennis. B&W. 131 mins.

10:30 PM THE LOVED ONE (1965). Dir.: Tony Richardson. Cast: Robert Morse. Robert Morley. Anjanette Comer. Roddy McDowall. Rod Steiger. Jonathan Winters. Margaret Leighton. John Gielgud. Paul Williams. Tab Hunter. Dana Andrews. Liberace. James Coburn. Milton Berle. Barbara Nichols. Reta Shaw. Jamie Farr. B&W. 121 mins.

1:00 AM THE YEAR OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY (1982). Dir.: Peter Weir. Cast: Mel Gibson. Sigourney Weaver. Linda Hunt. Michael Murphy. Bill Kerr. Color. 115 mins. Letterbox Format.

3:15 AM TORCH SONG TRILOGY (1988). Dir.: Paul Bogart. Cast: Harvey Fierstein. Anne Bancroft. Matthew Broderick. Brian Kerwin. Karen Young. Eddie Castrodad. Color. 119 mins. Letterbox Format.

5:15 AM VALENTINO (1977). Dir.: Ken Russell. Cast: Rudolf Nureyev. Leslie Caron. Michelle Phillips. Carol Kane. Felicity Kendal. Seymour Cassel. Peter Vaughan. Huntz Hall. David De Keyzer. Alfred Marks. Anton Diffring. Jennie Linden. Bill McKinney. John Justin. Penelope Milford. Ken Russell. B&W. 128 mins. Letterbox Format.

7:30 AM CABARET (1972). Dir.: Bob Fosse. Cast: Liza Minnelli. Michael York. Helmut Griem. Marisa Berenson. Fritz Wepper. Elisabeth Neumann-Viertel. Color. 124 mins.

9:45 AM CATALINA CAPER (1967). Dir.: Lee Sholem. Cast: Tommy Kirk. Del Moore. Peter Duryea. Robert Donner. Ulla Strömstedt. Lyle Waggoner. Sue Casey. Michael Blodgett. Jim Begg. Little Richard. Color. 82 mins.

11:15 AM MGM PARADE SHOW #30 (1955). Walter Pidgeon on Greta Garbo's early movie career. Irene Papas introduces behind-the-scenes footage from Robert Wise's Western Tribute to a Badman, starring Papas, James Cagney, and Don Dubbins. B&W. 25 mins.

12:00 PM ADA (1961). Dir.: Daniel Mann. Cast: Susan Hayward. Dean Martin. Wilfrid Hyde-White. Ralph Meeker. Martin Balsam. Color. 108 mins. Letterbox Format.

2:00 PM I'LL CRY TOMORROW (1955). Dir.: Daniel Mann. Cast: Susan Hayward. Jo Van Fleet. Richard Conte. Eddie Albert. Don Taylor. Ray Danton. Margo. Virginia Gregg. Don 'Red' Barry. B&W. 119 mins. Letterbox Format.

4:00 PM THE LUSTY MEN (1952). Dir.: Nicholas Ray. Cast: Susan Hayward. Robert Mitchum. Arthur Kennedy. Arthur Hunnicutt. Frank Faylen. B&W. 113 mins.

6:00 PM DAVID AND BATHSHEBA (1951). Dir.: Henry King. Cast: Gregory Peck. Susan Hayward. Raymond Massey. Kieron Moore. James Robertson Justice. Jayne Meadows. John Sutton. Dennis Hoey. Uncredited: Francis X. Bushman. Color. 116 mins.

         
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