Sylvia Scarlett - 15 Dec 2012 [Xmas Screening!]




Homosex and the City

Dir: Eva Tabares, 2010. 10 min. English, French, Japanese (with English subtitles)

Three couples find their way in this multicultural polysexual comedy.



Sylvia Scarlett

Dir. Geoge Cukor, 1935. 95 min. English (with English subtitles)
Starring: Catherine Hepburn, Cary Grant

A classy comedy of trans-gender-bending!

 

Sylvia and her dad are on the run from the French police, because of his shoddy dealings. They decide to change their identities, leave France, and start a new life in England what better way for Sylvia to avoid suspicion than…  to dress as a man and call herself Silvester?!

 

Katharine Hepburn was born to play this role. As a young girl, she demanded to be called “Jimmy”, and as a young star (after a career-defining role in a film by lesbian director Dorothy Arzner), her impetuous and athletic image, together with the androgynous look she cultivated, turned her into a gay icon. Cagey about her personal life, she encouraged people to think she had had a life-long affair with Spencer Tracy (conveniently, he was dead at this point) which had to be kept secret because he was married. But her true leanings were known by a good few. At least 150 of them… We mean the over 150 young women whose services Hepburn paid for through the infamous Hollywood escort agency run by Scotty Bowers (who finally spilled the beans in a book published this year).

 

But leaving aside the megastar Miss Hepburn, the film Sylvia Scarlett is a queer constellation, with George Cukor behind the camera and co-starring Cary Grant. Look out for the gay ‘men’ cruising in the first minutes of the film (appropriately enough, in a cruise ship). Watch out for Hepburn’s gender switches every time she changes her clothes: gender is something we put on, like a hat, she seems to say. Keep an eye on Sylvia’s prowess as an athlete on the rings, a formula-one racer, and an Olympic swimmer. Check out the erotic currents criss-crossing all characters and all sexes. And marvel at how they got away with it all in 1935!


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© Dublin Film Qlub 2012 

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