Critic Reviews



Based on 24 critic reviews provided by
At a certain point, anyone who reads Bowers’ book or sees this film has to decide whether to believe him or not. At this stage, there is no reason not to; Scotty does not seem remotely like a braggart or someone desperate for a sliver of late-in-life fame.
Tyrnauer captures this figure with empathy, humor, and as much fascination as we too possess watching. At the end of the day Bowers’ list of clientele is far less captivating than the fact each member loved and trusted him as an equal.
As our understanding of sexuality and its “fluid” nature among much of the population changes, Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood serves a larger purpose. By telling these tales now, he’s blunting the shock of the pace of changing mores and acceptance of the different.
The film poignantly reveals that the secret history of Hollywood is really an alternate history of America.
One of the film’s advantages over the book is that it brings in the testimonies of many other people — from friends and fellow ex-hustlers to Hollywood historians and insiders — all of whom support Scotty’s veracity while adding additional perspectives of their own.
Screen Daily
Tyrnauer smartly dissects how stifling the era’s sexual politics were — and his affectionate portrait of Bowers sneaks in some balance by critiquing him for writing a juicy tell-all that, in essence, outed people without their permission.
Even those who object to Bowers’ revelations may find themselves unexpectedly empathetic to his life story, and that’s thanks to Tyrnauer’s compassion. There’s plenty of gossip to be found here, but there’s also no shortage of humanity.
It’s an important corrective to many contemporary and historical accounts of Hollywood, reinstating the queerness that has too often been straight-washed out of them.
As a candid and involving socio-sexual time capsule of postwar to pre-AIDS Hollywood and how one free-thinking pioneer made a secret society of legendary artists and performers undeniably happy, “Scotty” definitely succeeds.
In short, the movie doesn’t seem nearly skeptical enough of its subject, using his sometimes dodgy memory as a vehicle to remind audiences that their classic Hollywood heroes — so perfect on the silver screen — were human after all, with sex lives and carnal desires like the rest of us. Well, maybe not exactly like the rest of us.

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