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Your Nominations for the Gender Bender Hall of Fame? [Video]

Features
by Carrie Rickey
March 7, 2013 2:02 PM
2 Comments
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Gwyneth Paltrow in "Shakespeare in Love"
Gwyneth Paltrow in "Shakespeare in Love"

“What is most beautiful in virile men is something feminine; what is most beautiful in feminine women is something masculine,” observed Susan Sontag, who was both a little butch and a lot beautiful.

I remembered this quote today in part because I noticed that "Victor/Victoria," starring Julie Andrews as the unemployed performer who finds a work as a male drag queen, was on TCM tonight. And in part because the image it conjured was watching "Taking Woodstock," when in walked Vilma, a musclebound blonde in a candy-pink dress, who resembled Mamie Van Doren with stubble. S/he spoke in a familiar voice, like honey mixed with molten asphalt. Holy cow! Liev Schreiber in drag?!? (In his first screen performance, "Mixed Nuts," he was also a cross-dresser.) In "Taking Woodstock," I particularly liked the contrast of pink frock and Deep Purple voice.

I’d nominate him for cinema’s genderbender Hall of Fame. Already enshrined? Andrews’ Victor/Victoria, Greta Garbo’s Queen Christina, Katharine Hepburn’s Sylvia Scarlett, Doris Day’s Calamity Jane, Gwyneth Paltrow’s turn in "Shakespeare in Love" and  Hilary Swank’s Brandon Teena in "Boys Don’t Cry."

Read the rest of this article here.

2 Comments

  • Brian | March 7, 2013 2:43 PMReply

    What, no Hong Kong movies? Anita Yuen in SHE'S A WOMAN HE'S A MAN (1994), Brigitte Lin as Asia the Invincible in SWORDSMAN III: THE EAST IS RED (1993), Brigitte Lin as a guy in DREAM OF THE RED CHAMBER (1977), Ivy Ling Po as a guy in countless films, most notably LOVE ETERNE (aka BUTTERFLY LOVERS, 1963), in which Betty Loh Ti plays his/her female lover, dressed as a man in order to go to school (a story that predates YENTL by centuries). Polly Shang Kuan used to dress as a man in numerous kung fu movies, but my favorite is her portrayal of a boy living on the streets of Hong Kong in BACK ALLEY PRINCES, which ends on an ambiguous note, never quite establishing whether her character really is a boy or is a girl raised as a boy. (The character even masquerades as a girl in one scene.) There are tons more. I did a presentation on gender-bending in Hong Kong cinema at a panel for an anime convention seven years ago.

  • Luke | March 7, 2013 2:15 PMReply

    What, no Crying Game?

    Whoops, spoiler alert.

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