SCOTTY AND THE SECRET HISTORY OF HOLLYWOOD
(DOC NYC started November 9 and ran through November 16. Chris Reed did his usual amazing job of coverage and his review of Matt Tyrnauer’s Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood closes out the coverage for 2017.)
How do you like your gossip? Salacious? How much so? Care to hear about a ménage à trois between Hollywood icons Cary Grant, Randolph Scott, and the titular Scotty, of Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood, a new, engrossing tell-all documentary from director Matt Tyrnauer (Citizen Jane: Battle for the City)? Or how about Edward and Wallis, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor? Want to know their proclivities in bed? If so, then this raunchy movie is the perfect choice for you. If you’d rather keep your memories, true or not, of your favorite mid-20th-century celebrities intact, then stay away…far away. Need I mention that this film is most definitely not suitable for work? Enjoy yourself!
When we first meet George “Scotty” Bowers, he arrives at his 90th birthday party, where he is greeted by a crowd of well-wishers bearing a cake in the shape of male genitalia. We soon learn that he is the author of Full Service, an autobiography, which recounts the sexual exploits of his younger years. A World War II veteran, he found work in the 1940s as a gas station attendant on Hollywood Boulevard, where his rugged good looks and fine physique drew the attention of closeted and bisexual stars like Walter Pidgeon, who took him home for a “dip in his pool” (a recurring euphemism). Soon, pimping himself out wasn’t enough, and the intrepid and entrepreneurial Scotty had an operation going at the gas station, providing male beefcake to – if you believe him – quite the stable of ostensibly straight leading men. Your morals may (or may not) be offended by the offhand accounts of heavy rutting, but true or not, these accounts make for an entertaining narrative.
All the while, we spend time with Scotty as – still incredibly vigorous – he spends his days visiting the many properties he owns, all stuffed to the gills with overflowing files and memorabilia. The guy cannot throw anything away, and his wife (he may have sold his services mostly to men, but likes living with women) looks on helplessly, loving but disapproving. It’s all just part of his cinematic charm. Whatever one may think of the veracity of his first-person alternative history of the movie business, there’s no question that Scotty is affable, did in fact know many of the people he claims to have known, and made a decent life for himself, if one marked by occasional trauma and tragedy. By the time the film ends with Scotty’s 91st birthday, we emerge feeling simultaneously soiled and invigorated. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to have lived Scotty’s life (I’m as human as the next person, but…), yet I admire his vitality.
– Christopher Llewellyn Reed (@ChrisReedFilm)