Monday 25 March 2019

On Blu-ray - David Hare marvels at Veit Harlan's THE THIRD SEX (West Germany, 1957)

"Marcel André” (above) as "Lolita" playing her peekaboo male/female witcheroo drag act at a then Hamburg 50s gay bar, the Three Fans, in Veit Harlan's wonderful 1957 cautionary tale of the perils of adolescent boy crushes, and the concomitant evils of avant-garde art and music, The Third Sex. AKA Bewildered Youth, or in its original German title homage to the great Richard Oswald's 1919 pioneering gay blackmail silent, Anders als du und ich. 
According to the proprietor of the underground gay bar in this little miracle of a picture, Lolita has just "finished in Paris". Perhaps Paris has just finished with her (him). She looks more like a truck driver than a dragster, even for the Ru Paul stable. 
While the movie doesn't display much of Harlan's originality or the mise-en-scène more apparent in his wartime domestic Agfacolor melodramas like Opfergang, he does end this sequence with a long lap dissolve from Lolita's chiaroscuro-ed face to a pretty wild expressionist arts soirée at seducer-of-youth, Dr Boris Winkler's (below) salon where we're treated to the cinema's first demo of musique concrète, verse libre poetry readings, some very bad abstract art, and a couple of Hamburg rentboys in sateen underpants doing Greco-Roman wrestling.
Essential cinephilia.

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