RETRO REVIEW: Get Scandalous as the Landmark’s Midtown Art Cinema Screens Matt Tyrnauer’s Expose on Legendary Procurer, Scotty Bowers, SCOTTY AND THE SECRET HISTORY OF HOLLYWOOD, Opening August 31

by Claudia Dafrico
Contributing Writer

SCOTTY AND THE SECRET HISTORY OF HOLLYWOOD (2017); Dir. Matt Tyrnauer; Opens Friday, August 31 at the Landmark’s Midtown Art Cinema; Trailer here.

Director Matt Tyrnauer’s documentary, SCOTTY AND THE SECRET HISTORY OF HOLLYWOOD (2017) is many things. It is a romp through the most sordid tales of Hollywood’s past; it is an in-depth observation of LGBTQ culture during the repressive studio era; and it is the curious and complex story of one Scotty Bowers, Hollywood’s most notable pimp. It is important to mention that both Scotty and his former employees do not consider him to be a pimp, insisting that he never took money from those working for him. Regardless of the terminology used to describe him, the fact is that Scotty Bowers spent the postwar years in Hollywood setting up Tinseltown’s best and brightest with one of a gaggle of young men that hung around Scotty’s gas station on Hollywood Boulevard. In an era when being outed as gay would at the very least cost you your career and reputation, and in some cases put you in a mental institution or behind bars, the secretive services provided by Scotty proved to be an invaluable outlet for many stars to pursue their lifestyle behind closed doors, away from the paparazzi and the adoring fans that would be devastated to learn that their idols were anything less than the ideal straight laced, heterosexual figureheads of the Postwar era.

At 91 years old, one would assume that Scotty Bowers would choose to slow down in his twilight years, long withdrawn from the hustle and bustle of Hollywood. This assumption could not be farther from the truth, as we see in film. Bright-eyed and talkative, Bowers has the enthusiasm of a man decades younger than his ninety-plus years. He and his wife Louise putter about their Los Angeles home and maintain active social lives that transcend their age (Scotty goes to publishing parties and meets up with his old employees; Louise sings at various nightclubs in full black-tie regalia).

The film captures Scotty’s most recent endeavor: the publication of his 2012 book FULL SERVICE, wherein he recounts his dealings with the stars. The book claims that countless celebrities thought to be heterosexual were in fact bisexual and gay, as evidenced by Scotty hooking them up with one of the many young men (and even a few women) under his employ. Scotty rattles names off like it’s nobody’s business (Cary Grant, George Cukor, Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn, and Vivien Leigh among others). Many readers are concerned whether outing celebrities that presented as straight while alive is disrespectful, considering the fact that they had no chance to consent to being outed. Bowers vehemently denies any disrespect on his part, claiming that because he chose to wait until every star mentioned in the book had passed away, he is abstaining from causing damage that could have destroyed their reputation in life. Whether or not this is a morally-sound decision is up to the viewer, but Scotty brushes any accusations of libel off his shoulder.

As the film progresses, another less ribald and optimistic side of Scotty begins to be unearthed. He and his wife live in a hoarding hellscape. Scotty unwilling or unable to part with the trinkets he’s collected over the decades filling both his home, a second home, and multiple garages. He does not seem to consider this to be much of an issue, but his wife mentions in passing that his refusal to see a therapist plays a large part in his dysfunction. Scotty slowly begins to open up about his past and it is befallen with personal tragedies, from the deaths of his brother in WWII and his daughter when she was only 23. The onset of the AIDS crisis took the lives of many of his friends and colleagues and led to Scotty’s decision to retire from his career as a pimp. His unwavering work ethic and commitment to “show up and get the job done” left him emotionally disconnected, unable to cope with the scale of his heartbreak. The years spent bottling up the pain came to a head when Scotty began to come apart at the seams on camera, finally acknowledging and coming to terms with his pain in the most emotionally intimate moment in the film.

While it is true that SCOTTY AND THE SECRET HISTORY OF HOLLYWOOD takes a more serious turn when delving into Scotty’s past, it is by and large a fun and witty film, chock full of off the wall stories about celebrity sexcapades straight from the source itself. While Scotty’s story is not one that is well-known by the general movie-going audience, it is a story worthy of being told, warts and all. Be sure to catch Matt Tyrnauer’s documentary exclusively at Landmark’s Midtown Art Cinema opening Friday, August 31.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

One Response to “RETRO REVIEW: Get Scandalous as the Landmark’s Midtown Art Cinema Screens Matt Tyrnauer’s Expose on Legendary Procurer, Scotty Bowers, SCOTTY AND THE SECRET HISTORY OF HOLLYWOOD, Opening August 31”


  1. This Week in ATLRetro, September 10-16, 2018 « ATLRetro
    on Sep 9th, 2018
    @ 8:47 pm

    […] SCOTTY AND THE SECRET HISTORY OF HOLLYWOOD (2017) through Sept. 13 [check out our Retro Review here]! Spend the night with Glenn Jones at City Winery! Get your Americana fix with Israel Nash and Slow […]

Leave a Reply

© 2019 ATLRetro. All Rights Reserved. This blog is powered by Wordpress