The Cinema Museum, London

The Vito Project LGBTQ+ Film Club presents Beyond the Forest (1949) on 35mm film + Queen Bee (1955) on 16mm

Sun 20 Nov 2022 @ 16:00 · Events

Bette Davis/Joan Crawford Double Bill presented in partnership with Women & Cocaine.

Forget your troubles, come on, get happy and join us as The Vito Project LGBTQ+ Club returns with its brand new season – Imitations of Life: Deconstructing Camp in Classic Hollywood. Presented in partnership with Women & Cocaine, our season reaches its peak in glamour, spiral staircases, extravagant wigs, and arched eyebrows as we celebrate two of the most powerful women ever to grace the silver screen: the indomitable Bette Davis and Joan Crawford.

“Nobody’s as good as Bette when she’s bad” and “She’s excitingly good… when she’s wonderfully bad!” announced the posters of Beyond the Forest and Queen Bee respectively – and do these two legends deliver on those promises!

 Beyond the Forest posterAbout the films:
Beyond the Forest (1949) brings us Bette Davis playing the wonderfully named Rosa Moline (“a midnight girl in a nine o’clock town”), the self-serving wife of a small-town doctor (Joseph Cotten) who is terribly dissatisfied with her life of simple pleasures.

When she gets a better offer from a wealthy big-city man who insists she gets a divorce and marries him instead, Rosa will demonstrate she is capable of rather despicable acts – including murder.

Queen BeeIn Queen Bee (1955), Joan Crawford plays the vicious and conniving Eva Phillips, who makes the lives of those around her miserable – especially her husband, Avery (Barry Sullivan), who resorts to heavy drinking and becomes an alcoholic. When Eva’s sister-in-law is engaged to be married to her former lover, and her husband starts up an affair with her young cousin visiting from New York, things start to go awry for Eva – and she sets a plan to destroy it all.

Why you can’t miss it:
You may have seen their garlanded signature performances in classics such as Mildred Pierce (1945) and All About Eve (1950), or their unhinged reunion in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1062) – but here we commemorate two of their most fabulously outrageous ‘bad girl’ roles. The two movies make for a fascinating pairing, as we explore what made these two stars queer and feminist icons, not to mention the role camp played in cementing their places in queerdom firmament.

Beyond the Forest is a cause celebre in Davis’s filmography. In a film she made against her will and that caused her to part ways with Warner Brothers, Davis chews up scenery and spits it right back at us. She plays a ‘no good’ femme fatale in a high-pitched voice, hip-moving swager, cheap low-cut blouses and what she called “that Dracula wig” with absolute gusto – and we absolutely love her for it. With Queen Bee, Joan Crawford elevates this overheated potboiler of a melodrama into a gay bonanza of camp-diva posturing, glorious costuming, and sharp-tongued one-liners that wouldn’t feel out of place in a drag show.

For all their guilty pleasures, both movies offer fascinating portrayals of strong, larger-than-life women, who dared to wish for more than their dull surroundings and cardboard men could give them. Delight as we witness these two glorious ladies devour the screen and anyone standing in their path, and stick around for our conversation after the films.

Beyond the Forest is presented from a rare 35mm print from the BFI National Film Archive, and Queen Bee is presented from a rare 16mm print.

The total programme length is around 4 hours, and will be preceded by an introduction and followed by a discussion.

Doors open at 15.00, for a 16.00 start. Beyond the Forest will screen first, and Queen Bee will screen at 18.10.

Refreshments will be available in our licensed cafe/bar.


Tickets £12 for both films or £8 for an individual film, in advance or on the door.

Advance tickets may be purchased from Ticketlab, or direct from the Museum by calling 020 7840 2200 in office hours.
Beyond the Forest