Tag Archives: LGBT Documentary films

Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood-2018

Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood-2018

Director-Matt Tyrnauer

Starring-Scotty Bowers

Scott’s Review #1,048

Reviewed August 3, 2020

Grade: B+

Based on the scandalous tell-all novel from 2012, “Full Service”, a clever play on words of the fetishist subject matter, Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood (2018) is a juicy, entertaining documentary about one man’s experiences managing the deepest and darkest secrets of Hollywood’s glamorous A-list stars.

The documentary is gossipy and dripping with saucy details and is also a titillating affair, grabbing hold of the viewer and leaving them wondering who did what with whom? Any audience member who doesn’t desire to learn the sexual appetites of greats like Katharine Hepburn and Carey Grant is either lying or repressing themselves.

Scotty Bowers, who served as an unpaid pimp from the 1940’s through the 1980’s is today a spry ninety-something-year-old who gets around like a man in his seventy’s and even climbs a ladder now and then (carefully!). He served in the United States Marines during World War II and decided to go to Hollywood directly after, landing a job at a gas station, eventually owning it. He and closeted military friends became confidantes and aids to stars preferring same sex entanglements. Scotty, clearly either bi-sexual or “gay for pay” is now married to a woman.

Before viewers pass judgment and think of Scotty as merely a pervert or sexual deviant looking for favor with the stars, a closer examination reveals the heroism of a man such as Scotty. Without him many stars and their sexual conquests would have had no outlet to express themselves or their sexuality. While hidden and contained, they were allowed some brief freedom to be themselves and explore desires otherwise left unfulfilled leading to further depression, drug use, or suicides. Closeted gays had to endure enough as it was.

The director of the project, Matt Tyrnauer, wisely segments the Hollywood portions of the documentary into two sections, the then and the now. He explains how different the industry was in the 1940’s when a scandal or an outing would have ruined a star’s career. While those in the scene were “in the know” and cavalier about the tastes of a Hepburn or a Grant, the small-town public would have cast stones.

Now, as shown, things are very different, and a bevy of entertainers are out and proud. As Scotty, yes still working at ninety-years-old, makes appearances at book signings and meet-and-greets, he occasionally skirmishes with an upset fan who feels Scotty’s revelations will hurt the star’s surviving family members. I feel that truth is truth and have no issues with the stories or any doubt that the secrets Scotty spills are true.

The personal side to Scotty is left murky. An admitted opportunist left unclear is Scotty’s true motivations. He is a humorous man and laughs at his own wise cracks, fondly driving down memory lane with former hustlers. His wife adores him but prefers not to read his book or pay much attention to his life before he met her since he never admitted this side of himself. Some tension exists between the pair but is it merely bickering or unresolved tensions bubbling beneath the surface?

The documentary lags slightly when it spends too much time and energy on Scotty’s hoarding obsession. He owns a house filled with stuff collected over the years leaving it uninhabitable. After a couple of separate occurrences related to this issue, I thought to myself, “who cares”? as it parlays too far from the delicious topic at hand.

As of July 2020, Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood (2018), the documentary, has been purchased to be developed into a feature film based on Bowers’ life. Luca Guadagnino (Call Me by Your Name-2017), is hired to direct. An acclaimed director familiar with telling a truthful and poignant LGBTQ story, will assuredly do wonders to bring honesty and delight to the silver screen. One can hardly wait.

Getting Go-The Go Doc Project-2013

Getting Go- The Go Doc Project-2013

Director-Cory Krueckeberg

Starring-Tanner Cohen, Matthew Camp

Scott’s Review #250

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Reviewed June 23, 2015

Grade: C

Getting Go- The Go Doc Project is a small budget documentary that focuses on a shy, awkwardly gay college student named Doc, who is completing his thesis project by filming a documentary surrounding an online crush he has developed, via porn, on a New York City exotic dancer named Go. When Doc finally contacts Go and inevitably meets him, the filming of Go’s life begins. From this point a relationship forms, but at what price and what will the turnabout be? The film is okay, but is surprisingly dull as it develops and begins to quickly drag towards the predictable conclusion.

The underlying themes of this documentary are loneliness and obsession from two differing perspectives. Doc, the boring, lonely college student is enamored by the gorgeous, buff, seemingly independent Go. As the two get to know each other, more is revealed about Go, his life-past and present, his hopes, dreams, and fears. Doc is also psychologically explored and the two form an unlikely bond. In this way the film succeeds in teaching the audience that there is more to a dancer than his body and more to a nerd than his brain. Both are complex individuals.

The first half of the feature is fairly interesting. The initial courage that Doc musters up to contact and ultimately meet Go is admirable and I enjoyed seeing what transpired next. Will Go be receptive to Doc or callously treat him as another enamored gay man? When Go agrees to be filmed and his life story slowly revealed, I feel sympathy for him and am intrigued to learn more about him. What was his family life like? Was he abused or victimized as a child, I wondered? Getting Go- The Go Doc Project loosely explores matters like this, though no supporting characters are introduced. Go and Doc and their budding relationship are the only focus. The film then plods for the final 45 minutes with an uninteresting love story that is fairly lacking in the suspense department. Are we to believe the pair will live happily ever after? Not a chance.

Unfortunately, the acting is not great either, especially on the part of Go, played by Matthew Camp. Tanner Cohen is a bit better and the more interesting character of the two, with more depth. He is clearly not comfortable with himself, his body, or even with being gay. However, at this age (early twenty’s) one wonders if the character would even be comfortable with girls had he been made to be straight. The main problem with the film is that the two are mismatched. Despite the fact that they develop a fondness for each other, the audience is aware that this will not last.

Props to the filmmakers for trying something a bit different. In the end, Getting Go- The Go Doc Project starts off well, meanders, and ultimately stalls, but tries hard to present a different type of story and that is not so bad.

How To Survive a Plague-2012

How To Survive a Plague-2012

Director-David France

Starring-Bill Bahlman, David Barr

Scott’s Review #141

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Reviewed July 29, 2014

Grade: A

A wonderful thing about documentaries is that they can be a learning experience and a teaching tool. How to Survive a Plague is one such type of documentary. It is an authentic, real, gritty piece of work and that’s what makes it so powerful.

The AIDS epidemic in the 1980’s was a monumental and devastating time in social history and this documentary chronicles a group of advocates tirelessly fighting  to convince the Government (at that time less than sympathetic towards victims of the disease) to approve and administer drugs to combat AIDS. This organization was named ACT UP and it brought the gay community together as well as sympathetic members of the straight community. Good people fighting against the establishment for change. Nearly all the footage from the film is from the time period in question and the activism is both heartbreaking and inspiring to witness. The Pope, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush are not portrayed in a positive light, but rather as uncaring and unwilling to help those dying from the disease.

A moving and inspirational film that teaches one never to give up or back down from what you stand for. Nominated for the 2013 Best Documentary Oscar.