Our Rating: ★★★★☆
L Factor: Gender Bender
Short Take:A fun, but surface look at gender-bending in the movies.
Alternate Titles: Starz Inside: Ladies or Gentlemen
Year: 2008
Duration: 53 min
Language: USA/English
MPAA: Not Rated
Director: Kevin Burns
Writer: Jean-Louis Ginibre, Kevin Burns
Starring: Tim Curry, John Landis, Michael Musto, Camille Paglia, RuPaul, John Waters

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Ladies or Gentlemen

Cross-dressing pop icon, RuPaul narrates this light-hearted Starz Inside documentary about cross-dressing in the movies. The film hits the highlights of some of the better-known Hollywood gender-benders (Some Like it Hot, Tootsie, Mrs. Doubtfire, White Chicks) and breaks the cross-dressing phenomenon down into a few sub-themes: men dressed as women for comedy (see above), women dressed as men as opportunity for male privilege (Yentl, Shakespeare in Love), and psycho killers (Dressed to Kill, Psycho).

Though a very surface look at cross-dressing in the movies, the film is worth a watch for the insight provided by actors (Tim Curry, Tony Curtis), moviemakers (John Landis, John Waters), writers (Michael Musto, of The Village Voice, and Rebecca Bell-Metereau, author of Hollywood Androgyny) and professors (Camille Paglia, Pamela C. Regan).

The documentary seems to favor men in drag, but does cover the female to male experience. Most notably mentioned is the homo-erotic appeal of trail-blazing, cross-dressing studio-era icons like Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo.

Ladies or Gentlemen also has a chapter on actor, Devine (aka Harris Glenn Milstead), and his influence on the genre – from the early days, making home movies with his neighbor, John Waters, to Lust in the Dust, Polyester and Hairspray. (CJ)