Northwestern Events Calendar


Queer in Color: PUCE MOMENT (1949) and DESERT FURY (1947)

When: Friday, March 31, 2023
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM CT

Where: Block Museum of Art, Mary and Leigh, 40 Arts Circle Drive , Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Cost: Free and Open to all

Contact: Block Museum of Art   (847) 491-4000

Group: Block Museum of Art

Category: Academic, Fine Arts



Pioneering gay filmmaker Derek Jarman once asserted that “colour seems to have a Queer bent”; the two films in this program prove how right he was. Avant-garde and queer cinema legend Kenneth Anger’s PUCE MOMENT (1949) is a fragment of an unfinished film, a swooning and plotless tribute to Hollywood decadence that luxuriates in the chromatic pleasures of wardrobe, makeup, and décor. DESERT FURY (1947) has a bit more going on narratively—but, as critic and LGBTQ film historian David Ehrenstein once wrote, “plot alone can't deal with the morass of images and sounds that calls itself Desert Fury.” Lewis Allen’s film follows sultry rich-girl dropout Paula (Lizabeth Scott) as she falls under the spell of gangster Eddie Bendix (John Hodiak)—much to the consternation of her mother Fritzie (Mary Astor) and Bendix’s curiosuly overprotective henchman Johnny Ryan (Wendell Corey). Small-town scandals erupt, family secrets tumble out, and wardrobe changes ensue. The film’s complex web of desire plays out under a lurid Technicolor sun, which illuminates passions often consigned to the deep shadows of mainstream cinema. Made within two years of one another, PUCE MOMENT and DESERT FURY emerged from opposite ends of a spectrum of cinematic production running from amateur to high artifice—but between the two, we can glimpse the vibrant horizons of queer film culture in the decades to come. 



(Kenneth Anger, 1949, 6 min, color, sound, 16mm courtesy of Canyon Cinema)



(Lewis Allen, 1947, 96 min, color, sound, 35mm courtesy of Universal Pictures)


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