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Queer films and directors, 1938-1947 (10Y10F VI Bonus List)

Some of the gay and lesbian stereotypes in these films are clearly damaging, others are celebrated as coded queer classics in a time when "sex perversion" was forbidden in Hollywood. Click on "Read notes" to see why these films were chosen for this list; more will be added over time, as well.

This is bonus content for the upcoming Part 6 of "10 Years 10 Films: Every Year of World Cinema."

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  • Sex Madness

    Sex Madness

    PSA exploitation film for venereal disease, warning of things like lesbianism. Much like Reefer Madness.

  • Rebecca



    Mrs. Danvers & Rebecca. Dead lesbian ghost theme.

  • Turnabout


    Mr. Pingboom

  • Dance, Girl, Dance

    Dance, Girl, Dance


    Not a lesbian film, but portrays the lives of many female characters. This was directed by the celebrated Dorothy Arzner, who lived much of her life with Marion Morgan, choreographer for *Dance, Girl, Dance.*

  • The Philadelphia Story

    The Philadelphia Story


    George Cukor was known for his gay Hollywood pool parties, but his public life and many highly successful films hid his homosexuality.

  • The Maltese Falcon

    The Maltese Falcon

    Based on the 1930 book, in which the Joel Cairo character was gay. This is only alluded to in the film.

  • Cat People

    Cat People

    Irena's "otherness" relatable to gay and lesbian filmgoers.

  • The Seventh Victim

    The Seventh Victim

    Lesbian undercurrents in setting (Greenwich Village), characters Jacqueline & Frances, and butch Satanist Esther Redi.

  • The Ghost Ship

    The Ghost Ship

    Homoerotic psychological thriller.

  • The Uninvited

    The Uninvited


    Miss Holloway & Mary Meredith characters. Dead lesbian ghost theme.

  • Lady in the Dark

    Lady in the Dark

    Russell Paxton character. Also helmed by gay director Mitchell Leisen.

  • Laura


    Gay actor Clifton Webb plays Waldo Lydecker, alluded to as a queen.

  • The Picture of Dorian Gray

    The Picture of Dorian Gray

    Based on 1890 novel by Oscar Wilde, gay author and playwright. Neither the novel nor book include any overtly gay content, but both strongly allude to it.

  • Children of Paradise

    Children of Paradise


    The most celebrated film from Marcel Carné, openly gay later in his life.

  • The Lost Weekend

    The Lost Weekend

    Based on the semi-autobiographical book by Charles Jackson, a latent homosexual. Film removes all gay references.

  • Night and Day

    Night and Day

    Biopic completely ignores that its subject, American composer Cole Porter, was gay.

  • Beauty and the Beast

    Beauty and the Beast


    Not a gay film, but stars director Jean Cocteau's "muse" Jean Marais.

  • Fireworks



    The legendary Kenneth Anger's first film of notoriety. Less than 20 minutes long and the only one in this list with explicit homosexuality. Anger is still alive at 94 years old (2021).