The Cinema Museum, London

Kennington Bioscope and The Vito Project LGBTQ+ Film Club presents Beverly of Graustark (1926) and I Don’t Want to Be a Man (1918)

Wed 8 Feb 2023 @ 19:30 · Events

Beverly Of Graustark posterThe Kennington Bioscope is a regular cinema event featuring live accompaniment to silent films that takes place at the Cinema Museum.

About The Vito Project LGBTQ+ Film Club: The popular series has been running at The Cinema Museum since 2015, promoting a safe space to promote dialogue between different generations of LGBTQ+ people, allies, and film lovers. It takes its name after Vito Russo (1945-1990), New York-native a gay rights activist, film historian and author best known for his book The Celluloid Closet, a ground-breaking chronicle of the LGBTQ+ experience in film. Russo famously screened movies in a space for them to be discussed and debated, and the Project continues to honour his tradition at the historic Cinema Museum London.

Kennington Bioscope and The Vito Project are excited to join forces to celebrate LGBT History Month with a double bill of delightful gender bending comedies. As Vito Russo explored in his seminal book The Celluloid Closet, cinematic images of or suggestive of queerness are as old as cinema itself – see The Dickson Experimental Sound Film from 1894 as what is believed to be the earliest sight of two men dancing cheek-to-cheek on the silver screen.

With this double bill of silent comedies, we feature two anarchic comediennes who mock and challenge gender conventions, navigating and disrupting the world of men while looking absolutely dashing in the process – be it a gallant military uniform, or an elegant top hat and tails ensemble that one could imagine a young Marlene Dietrich gazing upon and going “I’ve got to get myself one of these!”

Beverly Of GraustarkBeverly of Graustark (USA 1926). Directed by Sidney Franklin and starring Marion Davies, Antonio Moreno, and Creighton Hale. By kind courtesy of Ben Model and Undercrank Productions, we are proud to present the UK premiere of a brand new 4K restoration by the Library of Congress, which includes the film’s original 2-colour Technicolor ending.

Starring Marion Davies at her comedic best, this is the kind of material that allowed her to shine and proved to be a key title in the making of her star persona. She stars as Beverly Calhoun, an American co-ed whose cousin Oscar (Creighton Hale) is a Prince and heir to the throne of Graustark. In a twist of fate, she must switch places with him in order to prevent the conniving General Marlanax (Roy D’Arcy) from becoming King. Along the way, Beverly (as Oscar) meets goatherd Dantan (Antonio Moreno), hires him as her bodyguard… and to no one’s surprise, winds up falling for him.

Performing in male drag was not new to Davies, she had already donned men’s garb in When Knighthood Was in Flower (1922) and Little Old New York (1923). Even if the film ultimately reaffirms fixed gender roles, it does imply different ways in which the Davies-Moreno relationship could go, and scenes exploring their bromance offer some very queer possibilities indeed.

I Don’t Want To Be A Man posterThe supporting film is Ernst Lubitsch’s I Don’t Want To Be A Man (Ich möchte kein Mann sein) (Germany 1918). Starring his earliest female film muse, the always energetic and engaging Ossi Oswalda. Her film character, also called Ossi, exhibits behaviours unconventional for her sex. Attempts are made to repress her and she reacts by sneaking out on the town, dressed as a young man, attends a lavish ball and high jinks ensue.

Beverly Of Graustark will be introduced by Matheus Carvalho and accompanied by John Sweeney. I Don’t Want To Be A Man will be introduced by Michelle Facey and accompanied by Colin Sell.

Silent film with intertitles which may be suitable for the deaf and hard of hearing.

Tickets & Pricing

£7. Seats are limited, so please arrive early or request an invitation using the email
I Don’t Want To Be A Man