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Three Dollar Bill Film Series: Innocence Lost
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Three Dollar Bill Film Series: Innocence Lost

by Scott Rice - SGN Contributing Writer

Three Dollar Bill
Cinema's
Spring Film Series:
Innocence Lost
April 3-22
Northwest
Film Forum


There are certain films you should see if you're part of the Queer community. These films are part of our history, they are intrinsic to our civil rights struggle, and they are cultural artifacts. Three Dollar Bill Cinema's Spring Film Series brings a couple of these artifacts to the Northwest Film Forum's big screen this month. Innocence Lost also includes a couple of campy toss-offs that may be less historically significant, but should still be full of lascivious good fun.

Innocence Lost consists of four films made between 1958 and 1974. All four are unavailable on DVD and tough to find. Getting to see them on the big screen will be a real treat.

The series kicks off Saturday, April 3 with Fortune and Men's Eyes. Fortune and Men's Eyes (1970) is a hard look at life (and sex) behind bars. Smitty (Wendell Burton) is the angel-faced new guy. Rocky (Zooey Hall) is the old-hand bully looking for a bitch. Queer icon Michael Greer of The Gay Deceivers fame gives a courageous, if a bit un-modulated, performance as Queenie, the self-described politician of the cellblock. After watching another inmate get gang-raped, Smitty slowly comes to understand that Rocky's friendly gestures come with a serious price tag.

The other must-see flick in the series is Mädchen in Uniform (1958). This surprising post-war German film details the recently orphaned Manuela (legend of international cinema Romy Schneider) and her budding infatuation with compassionate boarding school teacher Fräulein Elisabeth von Bernburg (Lilli Palmer). Jealousy and scheming on the part of teachers and students leads to questions about the nature of the relationship.

Mädchen in Uniform is one of the earliest films to deal with same-sex love without slipping too far into stereotype and hyperbole (though keep in mind it was still 1958). It's a remake of an even earlier award-winning film, and an even tougher film to actually see, which was made in 1931. Both movies are based on Gestern und Heute (Yesterday and Today), a play and novel by Christa Winsloe.

Mädchen in Uniform is beautifully shot in full color. The screening of the newly restored version on April 17 is the first in the U.S. in over 20 years. Jason Plourde, program director for Three Dollar Bill Cinema, says, "For out-of-circulation titles like Mädchen in Uniform and Fortune and Men's Eyes - neither of which are available on DVD - we offer what could be the only chance for local audiences to ever see these films."

The other films in the Innocence Lost series are Chastity (1969) and Score (1974). Chastity is a vanity project written by Sonny Bono as a vehicle for Cher. Score, about swinging '70s couples, came out at the height of the sexual revolution when suburbia was supposedly rampant with "key parties" and cocaine. While both have small moments of cultural lucidity, neither should be taken too seriously. However, if you're into bad dialogue and absurd characters, they should both be good for a laugh or two.

Individual tickets are $9 for Three Dollar Bill Cinema members, $10 for non-members. All screenings are at 7 p.m. at Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave. For more infrotmation, visit www.threedollarbillcinema.org.

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