For Our Consideration: What did LGBTQ movies look like before Stonewall?
“Well, nobody’s perfect!”
—Some Like It Hot, 1959
Queer themes wrote themselves into the history of film early on—a statistical inevitability, because even in those periods when explicitly LGBTQ characters and plots were kept out of the mainstream, there were bound to be a few gay or bisexual men behind the camera. Among these were some of the canonical greats of the first half-century of movies: F.W. Murnau, Jean Cocteau, George Cukor, James Whale, et al. Of course, they were all male. When it comes to American sound film before the 1950s, notable examples of bona fide sapphic ogling are pretty much limited to the giggly, touchy, silk-nightie-hung gal pals of The Wild Party (1929), directed by Dorothy Arzner, who was about as out as a woman could be at the time while pursuing a high-profile career. As for any expression of self that might be prefixed …