Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood
Directed by: Matt Tyrnauer
Starring: Scotty Bowers, Peter Bart, Stephen Fry and William Mann
Run Time: 1h 38min
Director and documentarian, Matt Tyrnauer (Studio 54), starts out his film in a fascinatingly gossipy and kitschy way. The film is filled with sordid details of what Hollywood was early on and how it progressed into a town that had everyone afraid to be themselves. If they were, they found themselves threatened and, at times, in real danger. The movie doesn’t condescend to the audience or decree itself a must-see but only a few minutes in, the life of the person director Matt Tynauer uses as the subject of his documentary, Scotty Bowers, comes into focus, as well as his importance to the people who befriended him. Scotty, much older now and a bit eccentric, penned a book about how he wandered into his place and his particular expertise of the ‘biz,’ which was to be a pimp of sorts. It also doesn’t hold back on giving names of who his clients were. The book, ‘Full Service,’ outs movie stars who have long since passed on which wasn’t appreciated by some but was something Scotty felt necessary to do to allow these people to be seen as who they were… people. They were just actors with human desires that needed to be realized and fulfilled, as we all have.
The film goes much deeper, giving true accounts of his procuring connections for certain A-Listers to one another. When Hollywood began, it was rowdy and rambunctious, people ran wild with few rules to stop them. It was a sanctuary for people with open minds, bodies and spirits. At the time, it was normal for same-sex couples to live together. Then, in the 1930’s, along came a production code that governed the industry. Everyone, when seen in public, had to be seen with high standards, ethics and integrity; decency was in and garish was out. Morals clauses were added into contracts which meant the studios could fire anyone at any time for being less than what they considered tasteful, especially if they were found out to be or suspected to be gay. Jobs were lost, and times were very difficult for the gay and lesbian community. Matt Tyrnauer made it a point to be very clear about this and showing what an impact this had on people.
The year was 1945 when Scotty came along. There is a lot of attention paid to the time he gets started and it’s captured quite uniquely. Fresh out of the Army, needing work, Scotty takes a job at a gas station. He gets an invite to join actor, Walter Pidgeon, later at his house for a swim. He accepts and is paid for his time. Soon, other gay men involved in the film industry pull into the gas station offering money to be with Scotty and, seeing an opportunity to help people (which he has done all his life and still does) he gets his friends from the service involved and his little job turns into a full-time career. I’ll let you discover who Scotty had assisted and who else is mentioned as you watch. It’s part of what keeps you glued to the screen.
Should you watch this? Yes! Scotty, himself, makes a delightful and compelling specimen to examine for the hour and thirty-eight minutes it takes to watch and then his relationship with his wife makes it even more worth getting to know him. And considering who he’s talking about, the juicy tidbits of the swingers and the bi-sexuals, it keeps you completely captivated… yet it’s the old clips and the way it’s ultimately put together that makes Scotty and his revealing the days of old, the most intriguing.