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Case Number 19230: Small Claims Court

Buy Cinema Pride Collection at Amazon

Cinema Pride Collection

The Children's Hour
1961 // 108 Minutes // Not Rated
La Cage Aux Folles
1979 // 97 Minutes // Rated R
My Beautiful Launderette
1985 // 98 Minutes // Rated R
The Adventures Of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert
1994 // 103 Minutes // Rated R
The Birdcage
1996 // 119 Minutes // Rated R
Bent
1998 // 111 Minutes // Rated NC-17
The Object Of My Affection
1998 // 111 Minutes // Rated R
Boys Don't Cry
1999 // 116 Minutes // Rated R
Kissing Jessica Stein
2001 // 97 Minutes // Rated R
Imagine Me And You
2005 // 94 Minutes // Rated R
Released by MGM
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // July 7th, 2010

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All Rise...

Judge Brett Cullum finds ten movies that make you want to march and wave rainbow flags.

Editor's Note

Our reviews of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (Blu-ray) (published July 4th, 2011), The Adventures Of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert: Extra Frills Edition (published June 18th, 2007), The Birdcage (Blu-ray) (published September 16th, 2014), Boys Don't Cry (published June 26th, 2000), The Children's Hour (1961) (Blu-ray) (published October 9th, 2014), Imagine Me And You (published June 8th, 2006), Kissing Jessica Stein (published September 17th, 2002), La Cage Aux Folles (1978) (Blu-ray) Criterion Collection (published September 10th, 2013), and The Object Of My Affection (published January 24th, 2002) are also available.

The Charge

Ten films to celebrate gay pride!

The Case

The Cinema Pride Collection gathers together ten of the best GLBT films in the MGM library, and packages them all together in a cardboard slip case that sports rainbow colors. Is it worth being proud of? Certainly! It's a solid gathering of important queer films including six comedies, four dramas, and a parade of big stars and Oscar winners as well as quiet indie flicks that caught lots of attention. When viewed as a whole it's a documented journey that shows us how far the movement has come in fifty years. You start off with a black and white film that never even says the word "lesbian" or "gay," and nine movies later wrap it up with a comedy where the lead girl's mother actually approves of her girlfriend encouraging her lifestyle. You see gay go from painful hushed secret to flamboyant celebration, but all along the way are reminders that prejudice is still something we have to fight. These ten films are only available all together at Amazon as of this writing, so let's take a look at why you should show your pride and click the link in the upper right hand corner to buy.

Spoiler Alert! I'll be discussing the endings of the films below.

#1 The Children's Hour (1961)
This landmark black and white drama adapted Lillian Hellman's classic stage play for the screen, and made it a lot less shocking. The language and situations are hardly as frank as the play depicts. They definitely took some of the teeth out of it due to some concerns about presenting homosexuality on the big screen. But it's still great to see Audrey Hepburn (Breakfast at Tiffany's) play off of Shirley MacLaine (Terms of Endearment) as they take on the roles of two girls' school teachers accused of having an "unnatural" relationship. There's not a happy ending, and it's an intriguing drama that holds up as a reminder of a time when gay only meant shame and sorrow for a movie character. The word "lesbian" is never even uttered, only the euphemisms such as "unnatural." It's certainly keeping its pride in the closet, but such a landmark movie deserves to be seen. I guess we can thankfully celebrate that the times have changed.

Technically things are okay. The DVD included is a feature-only edition with the film and no extras, save for a vintage trailer. The black and white picture transfer is just fine with nice contrast levels. Sound is a simple mono and clear enough.

#2 La Cage Aux Folles 1979
The original film that inspired both a Broadway musical as well as the Hollywood remake The Birdcage. La Cage Aux Folles is far and away the best way to see this story, as it sticks to the original stage play very closely. It was an independent French farce that ended up doing good box office in art houses across America, and it is cited as one of the films that really started independent cinema trends here Stateside. It may not have a big budget sheen, but it has the heart often missing in the later works based on the material. The good-natured love story is about a gay couple who own a drag show bar on the French Riviera. A son from a previous straight marriage for one of the partners shows up and announces he is getting married. So now the gay men have to "pretend" to be respectable straights. And so the farce ensues, and many laughs are had along the way to the rather sweet conclusion. It marks the birth of the modern gay romantic comedy, and holds some brilliant physical comedy gags. It's a film that evokes a sense of pride in how sophisticated and fun gay humor can be.

Technically we have another simply okay disc, and a VHS-level image. The DVD has only the feature with a vintage trailer, so no supplements. The transfer shows the film's age often looking soft and more than a little grainy. There are specks and scratches on the print, yet it still looks charming enough to feel worth watching since it recalls a more primitive time. Sound options include the original French with English subtitles as well as the English dub for those who wish to not read their films. In an interesting move, most of the original French cast dubbed their own characters for the English language track. It's not quite as dreadful as these things usually are.

#3 My Beautiful Launderette (1985)
A gay Pakistani youth (Gordon Warnecke) and his blue collar lover (Daniel Day Lewis, My Left Foot) seek to turn around a failing business, a laundromat that they intend to make fabulous. This is a deeply rich independent feature from England that layered racial tensions and gay issues together to make an unexpected romantic drama. It feels small and intimate, and originally was intended to be a TV movie. Ironically enough it was based on a play. The movie remains a favorite among fans of gay cinema, and it was quite ahead of its time with its rough and tumble portrait of two men who'd rather roll up their sleeves rather than perform in glittery make-up. That makes it a butch little film to be proud of!

Technically it mirrors the previous two offerings. The DVD is a no-frills affair with the film and a vintage trailer. The transfer looks old and faded, rather dingy to say the least. Colors are washed out quite a bit, black levels are not deep, and the grain washes over everything. There is a two channel mono mix for the dialogue, and it is tinny and sometimes muffled. It is need of some polishing, but it's here.

#4 The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)
Probably the best drag queen film ever produced, it easily trumps the sad American attempt at recapturing the magic with To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar. In retrospect, you really have to admire a cast that included Hugo Weaving (The Matrix), Terrence Stamp (Superman II), and Guy Pearce (Memento) starring as glittering "showgirls" trudging through the desert outback of Australia on a rickety old tour bus. Back then only Terrence was a huge action star, and the other two were on the verge of big fame. Looking back it's miraculous to see this cast in this story, and it's still mind-blowing to see the Oscar winning costumes that often cost less than $7 to make. This was "drag on a dime" darling, and it still looks "faaaaabbb-bu-lllous!" The movie holds up well today, and still evokes a sense of pride in that gay and glittery could still be dramatic and deep. The film paints such rich character portraits that it's hard not to admire how brave it all seemed years ago.

This DVD edition only features the film with a good enough transfer and nice soundtrack emulation. It is the bare bones first release, and not the superior, enhanced, deluxe version that hit store shelves more recently. Colors pop appropriately, although it looks overly dark and a bit aged. There are no extras, save for the theatrical trailer. It seems a pity to offer the less fabulous version, but there you are.

#5 The Birdcage (1996)
Almost twenty years after La Cage Aux Folles Hollywood finally got around to remaking it with a big budget, big stars, and the legendary Mike Nichols (The Graduate) directing. It worked like gangbusters in the sense that The Birdcage is to date the highest grossing GLBT themed feature film (if we don't count Bruno as a truly gay film). We get Robin Williams (Mrs. Doubtfire) and Nathan Lane (The Producers) as a couple who run a drag show bar in South Beach, Florida. When one of their sons shows up to announce he is getting married the two gay partners must play it straight with farcical results. The comedy is broad, the pace is frenetic, and Williams and Lane play it for all it is worth. The only problem is I never believe them as a couple like I did in the French original. Hank Azaria (Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian) easily steals the show as the maid…well, at least until we get to see Gene Hackman (The Firm) in drag during the finale. There's something to be proud of!

Technically things are just okay again. The DVD is a flipper disc with a widescreen transfer on one side and a fullscreen on the other. The visual quality is pretty good with nice color saturation and a crisp clear image. Audio is five channel surround which is also well done. There are no extras, save for the predictable trailer.

#6 Bent (1997)
This film was based on the stage play "Bent" by Martin Sherman which ran for 241 performances in 1979 and 1980. It took almost twenty years to get the big screen treatment, but Bent the film does an honorable job recreating the Tony-nominated play. The cast is brilliant headed up by Clive Owen (Children of Men) and Lothaire Bluteau (The Tudors). Ironically, Ian McKellen (The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring), who appears as Uncle Freddie in this version, starred in the role of Max in the original London West End theatre production in 1979. Also in the cast is a surprisingly effective turn by Rolling Stones front man Mick Jagger as a flamboyant drag queen who sings at a decadent Berlin club. The narrative is about a gay man who ends up in a concentration camp where he quickly learns it is better to pretend he is Jewish rather than gay. Yet a fellow prisoner reminds him that his identity is crucial to his soul, and gives him the courage to come out. It's a heavy lesson in the cost of freedom and pride.

The DVD is a bare bones edition with only the trailer as a supplement. Yet the transfer is nice enough with clear images and saturated colors. Sound is a simple stereo.

#7 The Object of My Affection (1998)
A slight, but likable, romantic comedy with Jennifer Anniston (Friends) and Paul Rudd (Knocked Up) as good friends. She's pregnant and alone by choice, and he is a gay man who wants to help her. It's an improbable romantic comedy where we sit there knowing this can't end well, but we smile and nod throughout. I love the actors, but find the story rather simple and uninspired. It's not much to be proud of other than the fact it furthered us down the road of gay being accepted. It made me proud that a gay character could romance Jennifer Anniston in a bland romantic comedy, an honor usually reserved for straight people. Progress takes some odd forms!

The treatment is actually better on this one. The DVD actually has a making-of featurette! There is a special feature for once, someone pick my jaw up off the floor. It's about three minutes long, but talking heads never looked so good after six bare bones DVDs. The transfer is okay, although it does look a little underwhelming and flat. Sound is a full surround mix, and it makes the film pop audibly.

#8 Boys Don't Cry (1999)
It was the little independent film that could, and it won Hilary Swank (Amelia) an Oscar for portraying Brandon Teena, a real-life notable figure in the community. It's the story of a transgender, biologically born female who's life takes a tragic turn once he begins living as a male. Chloë Sevigny (The Last Days of Disco) plays the love interest who can't save her boyfriend from the prejudices of small town America. It's a brilliant film about gender identity, and the one representation of a transgender identified individual in the collection. Swank gives the performance of a lifetime here, and the film is certainly one to inspire pride and compassion.

The DVD comes with a making-of featurette, a director's commentary, and a collection of trailers. It's the loaded disc of the collection so far! Actually, this one deserves the most extras as it is probably the most accomplished film in the set when we look at how much it achieves. Visually, the film is dark, but looks good on DVD. Sound is a nice dramatic full surround treatment.

#9 Kissing Jessica Stein (2001)
A light romantic comedy about a girl who flirts with being a lesbian, but in the end just ends up a good friend. Kissing Jessica Stein stars Jennifer Westfeldt (Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place) as the bi-curious woman who is so sick of men she considers settling down with a woman. Yet when push comes to shove, she realizes she is only wanting the companionship of women and prefers romance from men. Oddly enough, this is another of the features that is based on a stage play. It's a movie that takes pride in the fluidity of women's sexuality, and somehow comes off good-natured despite the rather strange "out of the closet" then "right back in" approach from the lead character.

The DVD is another packed to the rafters one. It includes deleted scenes, a making-of featurette, and two commentaries including a director one and actresses one featuring both the lead and her love interest. The film itself looks good, although the budget limitations show up in the visual presentation. Sound options include a full surround five speaker treatment which does great with the dialogue and music.

#10 Imagine Me & You 2006
A woman (Piper Perabo, Lost and Delirious) finds herself attracted to her florist (Lena Headey, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) at her wedding. She doesn't stop the nuptials, but that doesn't end the attraction. It's an okay romantic comedy, although it reminds me a bit of the faux lesbian we saw in Kissing Jessica Stein, yet with a far more satisfying ending. This one proves that experimentation with same sex attraction is natural and not the horror show that something like The Children's Hour portrayed forty-five years before. In fact, this one celebrates a woman finally coming out and not being shunned or becoming suicidal as a result. Let's hear it for the love that was once called "unnatural" when Shirley MacLaine felt it!

This disc is stuffed. It's another loaded DVD with a director's commentary and filmmaker and cast Q&A session. Picture is perfectly fine with a very clean transfer that does well with recreating the film on the small screen.

The Cinema Pride Collection is hardly balanced, when you consider six of the films are about gay guys, three are about lesbians who aren't always committed lesbians, and only one deals with a transgender individual. So the girls get short shrift as do those who question gender identity. Yet we can still say that these DVDs do a certain justice, providing us with a nice history of the celluloid "out of the closet" images on the big screen. We've come a long way, and these films prove it. The only downside is, if you're a member of the GLBT community and a cinema fan, don't you own most of these already? If you do, be proud; you've beaten them to the punch. But for the rest of you pride slackers, here's your chance to catch up and ride our float in the parade.

The Verdict

Not Guilty.

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Genres

• Comedy
• Drama
• Gay

Scales of Justice, The Children's Hour

Judgment: 84

Perp Profile, The Children's Hour

Studio: MGM
Video Formats:
• 1.66:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Subtitles:
• English
• French
• Spanish
Running Time: 108 Minutes
Release Year: 1961
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, The Children's Hour

• Trailer

Scales of Justice, La Cage Aux Folles

Judgment: 82

Perp Profile, La Cage Aux Folles

Studio: MGM
Video Formats:
• 1.66:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (French)
Subtitles:
• English
• French
• Spanish
Running Time: 97 Minutes
Release Year: 1979
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks, La Cage Aux Folles

• Trailer

Scales of Justice, My Beautiful Launderette

Judgment: 87

Perp Profile, My Beautiful Launderette

Studio: MGM
Video Formats:
• 1.66:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Subtitles:
• English
• French
• Spanish
Running Time: 98 Minutes
Release Year: 1985
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks, My Beautiful Launderette

• Trailer

Scales of Justice, The Adventures Of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert

Judgment: 92

Perp Profile, The Adventures Of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert

Studio: MGM
Video Formats:
• 2.35:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (French)
Subtitles:
• French
• Spanish
Running Time: 103 Minutes
Release Year: 1994
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks, The Adventures Of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert

• Trailer

Scales of Justice, The Birdcage

Judgment: 86

Perp Profile, The Birdcage

Studio: MGM
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (French)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Spanish)
Subtitles:
• English
• French
• Spanish
Running Time: 119 Minutes
Release Year: 1996
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks, The Birdcage

• Trailer

Scales of Justice, Bent

Judgment: 90

Perp Profile, Bent

Studio: MGM
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Subtitles:
• English
• French
• Spanish
Running Time: 111 Minutes
Release Year: 1998
MPAA Rating: Rated NC-17

Distinguishing Marks, Bent

• Trailer

Scales of Justice, The Object Of My Affection

Judgment: 83

Perp Profile, The Object Of My Affection

Studio: MGM
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (French)
Subtitles:
• English
• Spanish
Running Time: 111 Minutes
Release Year: 1998
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks, The Object Of My Affection

• Featurette

Scales of Justice, Boys Don't Cry

Judgment: 96

Perp Profile, Boys Don't Cry

Studio: MGM
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Subtitles:
• English
Running Time: 116 Minutes
Release Year: 1999
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks, Boys Don't Cry

• Commentary
• Featurette
• Trailers

Scales of Justice, Kissing Jessica Stein

Judgment: 85

Perp Profile, Kissing Jessica Stein

Studio: MGM
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Subtitles:
• English
Running Time: 97 Minutes
Release Year: 2001
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks, Kissing Jessica Stein

• Commentaries
• Deleted Scenes
• Featurette

Scales of Justice, Imagine Me And You

Judgment: 81

Perp Profile, Imagine Me And You

Studio: MGM
Video Formats:
• 2.35:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Spanish)
Subtitles:
• English
• French
• Spanish
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks, Imagine Me And You

• Commentary
• Q&A








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