Friday, June 19, 2009

The Naked Civil Servant

Naked Civil SvtFriday, June 19, 12:00 pm, Castro Theatre, TBA119C
5 bells

Quentin Crisp was truly a trailblazer, with blazing red hair to under­score the point. In London from the 1930's onward, he took his homo­sexu­ality not as a secret shame to be hidden from the world, but as a badge of identity to be shouted from every rooftop. Before World War II, Crisp occasionally worked as a rentboy, selling his services for 7s6d (37½p in decimal), sometimes earning a 10-shilling (50p) note. By the time the war began, he had found other sources of income, but was nonetheless arrested and tried on charges of "soliciting for an immoral purpose." His testimony in his own defence shines as the high point of the film, although his arch wit shows in both the dialogue and the voiceover throughout the film.

In 1975, The Naked Civil Servant played on PBS in the United States, creating quite a stir, especially outside the major cities of the East and West Coasts. It also earned both the director and the star (John Hurt) BAFTA awards. Hurt reprised the role in the 2009 sequel, An Englishman in New York, completing the story of Crisp's remarkably unique life. Both films are on my MUST SEE list.

The Naked Civil Servant, dir. Jack Gold, UK, 1975, 77 min.

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