Posts Tagged ‘Cary Grant’

Scotty Bowers


98 minutes | No MPAA rating

Scotty Bowers is dismissed by some as the film industry’s premiere pimp. In their eyes he is scum, a man who in ’50s Hollywood fixed up closeted gay actors with hunky young studs and then, decades later, wrote a tell-all memoir exposing their peccadilloes.

That’s one way of looking at him. Another is that Bowers is a benevolent erotic pioneer who never took money for his matchmaking and believes that sexual expression –whatever one’s orientation — is as vital to a good life as anything addressed in the Bill of Rights.

Watching “Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood” a viewer zig-zags between those two extremes. Is Scotty a hero or a shameful libertine? A creep or a charming raconteur? All of the above?

As  Matt Tyrnauer’s documentary begins, Bowers is celebrating his 90th birthday (his cake is shaped like a huge penis) and the publication of Full Service, his pull-no-punches sexual tell-all.

A veteran of the Iwo Jima invasion, Bowers came to LA in the late ’40s and opened a gas station at 5777 Hollywood Boulevard. He hired his Marine buddies to work there. Little by little the place became one-stop-shopping for closeted stars and businessmen looking to score.

Bowers installed a peep hole in the men’s room and had a mobile home parked nearby for quickie trysts. “That’s what you call business, baby!” he gleefully chortles.

Half of the film’s running time concentrates on Bowers’ eyebrow-raising memories. He recalls setting up dates for the likes of Walter Pigeon and Charles Laughton, Tom Ewell and J. Edgar Hoover. He claims to have procured willing couples for the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and to have enjoyed three ways with both Cary Grant and Randolph Scott and Ava Gardner and Lana Turner.

He only curtailed his activities with the rise of AIDs…he didn’t want to be responsible for spreading the disease.

Of  his omnivorous sexuality the white-haired Bowers replies “I’m everything.” Indeed, he has been sexually active since childhood (furiously dismissing any suggestion that he was the victim of abuse — “I did what I did because I wanted to do it!”). Even before shipping off to the Pacific he had been one of Alfred Kinsey’s subjects for his 1948 landmark Sexual Behavior in the Human Male.


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Cary Grant and Jean Arthur

Cary Grant and Jean Arthur

“Only Angels Have Wings” screens at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, January 25, 2014 in the Durwood Film Vault of the Kansas City Central Library, 14W. 10th St.  Admission is free. It’s part of the year-long film sereies Hollywood’s Greatest Year, which offers movies released in 1939.

Before the 1950s, movie companies rarely filmed in exotic locations. If a script called for a Welsh mining village, a Medieval castle, or a steamy jungle, it was all created on a soundstage or the back lot of a Hollywood studio.

Howard Hawks’ Only Angels Have Wings is set in a South American coastal town from which daredevil pilots take off to fly the mail over mountains and into the continent’s interior. It wasn’t shot in South America but on a sound stage in North Hollywood, California.

Creating an entire world on a studio soundstage was all in a day’s work for the designers, artists, and craftsmen on the payroll of every studio in the 1930s.  How good were they?

Watch the first 10 minutes of Only Angels.  The film begins with a nighttime shot of a ship approaching the dock through the fog. (I’m pretty sure a model boat was employed.) Then the camera begins wandering along the pier alongside the ship, following a couple of flyers who are looking for a little after-hours action. There’s a cacophony of voices and sounds, a swirl of busy movement.


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