The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, April 12-18

nyc repertory cinema-the queen

The Queen (1968)
Directed by Frank Simon
The Queen will screen at Anthology Film Archives on a 35mm blow-up from its 16mm original; both screenings will feature the presence of the film’s star, Jack Doroshow, who’s known better to the world as Flawless Sabrina. The then-24-year-old Flawless was the master (mistress?) of ceremonies for the 1967 edition of the Miss All-American Camp Beauty Pageant, a trans extravaganza held at New York City’s Town Hall. This event was recorded for posterity in handheld vérité fashion by Simon in his feature-length film debut. It gives us glimpses of a murderer’s row of judges including Edie Sedgwick, Terry Southern, and the immortal Mr. Warhol, as well as a full dive into an onstage rendition by Flaming Creatures star Mario Montez of “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend.” The Queen’s hot-to-trot highlights, though, are the contestants themselves, such as the Philadelphia-born lovely blond Harlow and the ruthlessly preening Crystal LaBeija (“I’m beautiful. I know I’m beautiful”). The pageant’s lows and highs are conveyed across 68 taut, tight, tense, and tingling minutes, whose disputable outcome can’t erase Flawless Sabrina’s conviction: “Every one of these contestants, before they came here tonight, is a winner.”

The Queen will be presented within a series of 13 films collectively devoted to exploring transgender issues, and it’s positioned as the wise old forbearer to a number of wonders ranging from Fassbinder’s In a Year of 13 Old Moons and Ottinger’s Freak Orlando up through works completed this year. The film series is staged in conjunction with a series of photographs at the International Center of Photography called The Fluidity of Gender, which forms part of the larger ICP exhibition Perpetual Revolution: The Image and Social Change. Aaron Cutler (April 16, 4:15pm; April 21, 7pm at Anthology Film Archives’s “The Cinema of Gender Transgression: Trans Film”)

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