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The Naked Civil Servant

The Naked Civil Servant – 1975
Jack Gold

Quentin Crisp – autobiography
Philip Mackie – screenplay

John Hurt
Liz Gebhardt
Patricia Hodge

Review by Wayne Malin

WAY ahead of its time

This was broadcast on American TV (with absolutely no fanfare) on one summer night in the late 1970s. I was just idly switching channels and started watching by accident. It’s a movie about Quentin Crisp–a gay man who came out in the 1920s. He introduces the film and then it starts–done in documentary style it traces his life. The first image is of him as a young boy dressed in woman’s clothes admiring himself in the mirror. I’ve never had a desire to wear women’s clothes, but being a closeted high school kid when I saw this it had QUITE an effect on me.

The film follows his life, how he found others like him and his fame and fortune. It doesn’t sugarcoat things–he comes across as vain and pompous sometimes and he is very brutally threatened in one scene. Still it shows how he survived and lived life on his terms. It was liberating–for me at least. Remember–this was the era when “Boys in the Band” was considered an accurate representation of gay life!

This was WAY ahead of its time–for TV. I’m shocked that it was even SHOWN on American TV (albeit VERY quietly–and late at night). John Hurt is superb in the title role–he sounds, looks and acts like Crisp did! An excellent TV movie–still relevant today and beautifully done. A 10 all the way.

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70s Films

A tour through the great and not so great films of the seventies The seventies saw a huge change in styles and genres from the advent of the slasher horror movies like Halloween and the blockbuster summers films started by Jaws. More...

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