Noir City Hollywood, the Home Game: DESERT FURY

Who’s up for a little bisexual afternoon delight?

Ok, yeah so I freely admit that I read pretty much everything as queer. What can I say? I was born this way. But even the straights have to agree this flick is queer AF. Czar of Noir Eddie Muller calls it “the gayest movie ever produced in Hollywood’s golden era.” It’s so gay, it’s in Blazing Technicolor!

Everybody’s favorite bisexual icon Lizabeth Scott plays sultry and rebellious Paula, the wayward daughter of tough female casino boss Fritzi (Mary Astor.) When Paula returns to her desert hometown, she gets mixed up in a love triangle between a possibly murderous racketeer (John Hodiak) and his jealous henchman/lover (Wendell Corey in his breakout debut role.) Make that a quadrangle with washed up rodeo roughie turned sheriff Burt Lancaster pining after Lizabeth. Pentangle really if you take into account the fact that the racketeer used to bang Fritzi before he took up with her teenage daughter.

This is one of those films that dances along the melodramatic border between Film Noir and what was known as Women’s Pictures. Every scene oozes sexual innuendo and steamy, overwrought emotions. It’s less about crime and more about the ways in which the characters become entangled and inevitably destroyed by their own desires. There’s the toxic mother/daughter relationship that takes on disturbing, almost sexual overtones. There’s the explicit homosexual affair and shifting power dynamic between Hodiak and Corey. It’s a hot mess in the best possible way and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

I also feel obliged to give a shout out to the badass and surprisingly butch Mary Astor, who has already made my list of favorite Noir Ladies of a Certain Age for her role in ACT OF VIOLENCE. She would have gotten a nod for this one too if I were able to include the same actress in more than one role.

It’s not easy to stream but well worth the hunt. And if you’re too busy for heterosexual bullshit, you can watch all the queer parts in this superb montage. (Scroll down)

Tonight, we’re back on the railroad with LA BETE HUMAINE and HUMAN DESIRE!

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