How did films address issues of queerness during a period when Hollywood explicitly prohibited such depictions?
Frankenstein (1931), Dance Girl Dance (1941) and Tea and Sympathy (1956) were all directed by queer filmmakers. How did these films address issues of queerness during a period when Hollywood explicitly prohibited such depictions?
Provide detailed analysis of the films whenever possible and draw on concepts from readings and slides whenever possible as well.
This iconic horror film follows the obsessed scientist Dr. Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) as he attempts to create life by assembling a creature from body parts of the deceased. Aided by his loyal misshapen assistant, Fritz (Dwight Frye), Frankenstein succeeds in animating his monster (Boris Karloff), but, confused and traumatized, it escapes into the countryside and begins to wreak havoc. Frankenstein searches for the elusive being, and eventually must confront his tormented creation.
Bubbles (Ball) and Judy (O’Hara) are the most important members of the dance company of Madame Lydia Basilova (Ouspenskaya). Bubbles attracts male attention with her sexy dances. In contrast, Judy favors the less showy ballet.
Jimmy Harris (Hayward), separated from his wife, meets Bubbles and Judy at the nightclub where the Basilova troupe is performing. Jimmy and Judy quicky become attracted to each other, making Bubbles jealous. The troupe’s tour is unsuccessful. Upon their return home, the sexy, uninhibited Bubbles finds work in a burlesque show, where the other members of the troupe are not wanted.
Hoping to place the talented Judy in a ballet company, Madame Basilova takes her to meet ballet director Steve Adams (Bellamy). On their way to the ballet studio, Madame Basilova is fatally injured in a traffic accident. Without her teacher to introduce and recommend her to director Adams, Judy is unable to join the studio.
Lacking money but wanting to dance, Judy agrees to becomes Bubbles’ stooge in her burlesque act. The all-male audience cheers Bubbles’ rousing routine but boo, hiss, and make rude remarks during Judy’s refined ballet.
Steve has learned about Judy’s attempt to meet him and goes to see her in the burlesque show. He is impressed by Judy’s obvious skill and intends to talk with her.
Jimmy takes Judy to a nightclub where they meet his former wife and her new husband. Judy quickly realizes that Jimmy still loves his ex-wife. Later in the evening, Bubbles finds the drunken and confused Jimmy sitting on Judy’s doorstep. She carries him off and marries him.
At the burlesque theater, Judy has tired of the male audience’s abuse; she stops her dance and lectures them about getting their
fifty cents worth. The performers have to put up with the stares and
silly smirks their mothers would be ashamed of. At home
they strut before their wives and sweethearts who see through them just the same as we [the performers] do. Steve, attending the performance with his assistant, starts clapping, and the audience, shamed and impressed by Judy’s scolding, joins them in the applause.
In the dressing room, Judy accuses Bubbles of taking advantage of Jimmy. Their argument progresses into a hair-pulling, rolling-on-the-floor scuffle that ends with the arrival of the police and their arrest. At the night court, Judy is sentenced to 10 days in jail. Steve, who has learned about her arrest and come to the court, bails her out.
Sorry for her behavior, Bubbles makes up with Judy and frees Jimmy from the marriage. Jimmy reconciles with his wife who has separated from her second husband.
Judy goes to the dance studio to thank Steve. He promises to work with her and make her the ballet star that Madame Basilova knew she could be.