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Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood offers plenty of prurient thrills for film fans, but beyond the gossip lies a poignantly illuminating look at decades of sexual mores.
All Critics (64)
| Top Critics (19)
| Fresh (57)
| Rotten (7)
Equal parts gossipy tell-all and poignant portrait of a man whose life is revealed to be rather more complicated than the sunny sex romp Bowers describes.
In Matt Tyrnauer's touching documentary "Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood," Bowers is cast not only as a name-dropping Zelig but a free-living, free-loving, fascinatingly contradictory pioneer.
Hearing about all this TLC will make watching TCM a very different experience.
There's more to the film than lurid stories, though there are an awful lot of lurid stories.
Wondering what's real and what's just a carefully crafted crock doesn't make "Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood" a better experience. It makes it a little pointless and frustrating.
An anthropology of the sub rosa social life made necessary by a repressive Hollywood studio system.
Watching Bowers cheerfully recounting his past will no doubt be amusing and eyebrow-raising for students of classic Hollywood in the same way that it can be fun to leaf through a copy of Kenneth Anger's equally salacious history ''Hollywood Babylon.''
This wasn't meant to be a pretty story. Pretty stories are the ones movie studios tell us about their most powerful actors to coax us into theaters...
There's not much here that will surprise anyone, but it remains a breezy watch.
The doc is made with a high level of technical skill and-crucially-compassion. It's another outstanding feature in a rich year for documentary filmmaking.
A better, sharper documentary would clearly set out the difference between the revelation of eminent people privately pursuing their natural drives and the degradation of human exploitation.
Gossip hounds will best appreciate this affectionate documentary.
IT'S A GAS - My Review of SCOTTY AND THE SECRET HISTORY OF HOLLYWOOD (3 Stars)
If you like your dirt dished, especially if said dirt involves the word "c*ck" spoken over and over again, then pull up a chair and watch SCOTTY AND THE SECRET HISTORY OF HOLLYWOOD, an entertaining, fascinating documentary about Scotty Bowers, World War 2 marine turned Hollywood gas station attendant who provided "tricks" to the town's rich and famous. Director Matt Tyrnauer has a great subject in Scotty, now 95 and still full of laughter and a renegade attitude. Taking off from Scotty's book FULL SERVICE, the film names names and very specific actions. If you want to know who put what into Walter Pidgeon or countless others, then you'll get your money's worth. Who knew that Cole Porter had such an appetite or that Cary Grant couldn't get enough of Rock Hudson when he was fresh meat in Tinsel Town?
Yes, this is salacious stuff and makes you wish someone would spill on current celebrities in the same manner. I mean, who hasn't said they heard this about John Travolta or that about Tom Cruise? This film does a good job at getting to the core of why we need to know this information in the first place. Perhaps it humanizes these icons or it allows homophobes of all stripes the chance to express that there's something wrong or weak about gays or lesbians. Others will detest Scotty for outing people dead or alive, which as Scotty points out, you would only be offended if you felt there was something wrong with being gay.
It's a rich subject matter made even richer by exploring what makes this now-95-yer-old man tick. Despite being remarkably active at his age with all of his memories intact, he lives like a hoarder, even against the wishes of his long-suffering wife of over 30 years. It's as if he can't let go of his past, and the film tries to get to the heart of it, creating some moving moments. The deeper we dive the more damage we see in Scotty, despite his still effervescent smile and laugh. With so many piles of stuff everywhere, it feels like his past is taking over his entire world.
Scotty's a mass of contradictions. He helped so many stars who couldn't even legally have sex with the people they wanted to have sex with, and who couldn't keep their jobs if caught. Yet, by telling all, he's capitalizing on their lives. But, by doing so, he's normalizing their behavior and giving us all a peek inside the perils and sadness of the Hollywood closet.
All of this is mixed up into every frame of this highly entertaining film. At times, it grows repetitive, hitting the same points over and over about his hoarding or his endless hookup stories, but he remains riveting throughout. It would be easy to call him a pimp, but that would take away from the good he did for people. I'll go with Service Provider instead.
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