Saturday, December 11, 2010

The New Sentinel Arrives



The new issue of the Noir City Sentinel is now available. As usual, it's packed full of great articles and photos. First, a little horn-tooting: this issue features my essay "All Kinds of Women: The Lesbian Presence in Film Noir" a 3,000 word examination of lesbian representation in noir from the classic period onward. The whole issue is pretty great: it features Don Malcolm on true crime noir; profiles on Lizabeth Scott, Edward G. Robinson, and Richard Conte; and an insightful reappraisal of ON THE WATERFRONT by Vince Keenan. It has exciting information on the latest preservation efforts of the Film Noir Foundation (good news for fans of the brilliant THE SOUND OF FURY), and much much more.

Below is the opening of my article:

There are no lesbians in classic film noir, and the reason for this is quite simple. Lesbians didn’t exist back then. Well, they didn’t officially exist. Sure, there were places in L.A. that catered to the all-girl set, upscale nightclubs like Tess’s CafĂ© Internationale and middle-class bars like the If Club and the Paradise Club. Actresses such as Margaret Lindsay (SCARLETT STREET), Ona Munson (THE RED HOUSE), and Patsy Kelly (THE NAKED KISS) either lived openly with their partners or carried on affairs with other women while hidden behind “lavender marriages” to gay men. And rumors swirled about big name stars like Marlene Dietrich, Barbara Stanwyck, and Lizabeth Scott. On the nation’s screens, however, lesbians didn’t even rate the kind of offensive portrayals accorded to other minorities. According to the Hays Code, absolutely no manner of “sex perversion” was permitted onscreen—a rule so ironclad that not even the implication of homosexuality was permissible. In the culture at large, moreover, homosexuality was rarely if ever spoken about in the open. It wasn’t that people were in the closet—it’s that the closet wasn’t even supposed to exist.

So there are no lesbians in noir. Implications, however, are funny things…

Click here to get The Sentinel

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