The Queen (Frank Simon, 1968)

Discuss films and filmmakers of the 20th century (and even a little of the 19th century). Threads may contain spoilers.
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Tom Peeping
Joined: Thu Aug 31, 2006 1:32 pm
Location: Paris

#1 Post by Tom Peeping » Sat Sep 09, 2006 5:05 pm

I found Frank Simon's The Queen in London some years ago on VHS and it has been since I first saw it one of my favourite movies of all-time. I believe it is one of the great documentaries of the 60s, a fascinating time-capsule of pre-Stonewall days and it's really a shame it's not on DVD yet.

The Queen is an outrageous documentary about the 1967 New-York Miss All-American Drag Beauty Pageant. It stars with great panache the unique Miss Flawless Sabrina as the MC ("I'm 23 but dressed liked this I'm like 110!"), the supernatural beauty wonder from Philadelphia Miss Harlow as the young winner, the temperamental Miss Crystal as the raging runner-up and a group of twenty or so fascinating drag queens as the other contestants. Running at 70 minutes, it is constantly smart, funny and genuinely moving.

Of course, as a very low-budget film, the image is from time to time a bit out of focus and the lighting and sound could be much much better but the editing is awesome and brings a very powerful energy to the whole. The charismatic contestants are all a joy to watch and hear: they make the movie such a great and memorable one.

Please, release The Queen!
Last edited by Tom Peeping on Fri Jan 18, 2008 2:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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david hare
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 8:01 pm
Location: WellyYeller

#2 Post by david hare » Sat Sep 09, 2006 7:42 pm

This movie (alas never seen by me) is now unobtainable as far as I can tell.

It seems to share an early queer documentary flavor with movies like Shirley Clarke's Portrait of Jason (both this and Queen were positively reviewed by a then quite homophobic Sarris back the the sixties) and more recently Jenny Livingstone's terrific movie about the 80s drag balls in Harlem, Paris is Burning. (These gave birth to the arts of "shading" and "vogueing" which Malcolm Mclaren and later Madonna usurped into their routines, to significantly less effect.)

It seems so many artefacts from gay life, like The Queen just disappear, like oral history, as though there was no gay life before Stonewall.

BTW welcome to the forum - I've enjoyed reading your posts over at dvdKlassic!

Tom Peeping
Joined: Thu Aug 31, 2006 1:32 pm
Location: Paris

#3 Post by Tom Peeping » Fri Jan 18, 2008 2:40 pm

I just found a clip from the movie on YouTube. It will give you a good idea of what The Queen is like. It's Miss Crystal going nut because she didn't win the contest. Enjoy!

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"Without obsession, life is nothing"
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 6:18 am
Location: Sitting End

#4 Post by Lino » Sun Jul 13, 2008 2:24 am

I too want to see this one badly. Who owns it, anyway?

Over at YouLube Land, some more clips. Enjoy and please tell that guy clamarama to post the whole movie!

Joined: Tue Feb 05, 2013 1:28 pm

Re: The Queen (Frank Simon, 1968)

#6 Post by LaQuiff » Tue Feb 05, 2013 9:12 pm

I am a photography student and makeup artist currently living in London.
I am currently writing a dissertation all about the evolution of Drag culture, taking into account what is known as 'pre' and 'post' stonewall gay culture. Everyone in and around drag and gay culture knows of Paris is Burning. It has become almost a cinematic bible. But that was 1990 and only a little older than me. The Queen by Frank Simon was 1968, a drag pageant judged by Warhol. In 20th century subcultural its pretty heavyweight considering its time even if in New York.
And it is nigh impossible to find (with exception to a couple of clips of Crystal Labeija on youtube), most reviews online only referring to when the writer saw it years ago on a 35mm projection.

I have spoken with a few artistic cinema and archival collectives and because it is not commercially available nobody knows who or where to find a person with any form of copy. Does anyone know where I could see this?

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Re: The Queen (Frank Simon, 1968)

#7 Post by Matt » Wed Feb 06, 2013 12:11 am

It was apparently released on VHS by First Run Features. Several libraries still have copies (though none in the UK, as far as I can tell). There's a copy for sale on Amazon.

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Re: The Queen (Frank Simon, 1968)

#8 Post by senseabove » Fri May 04, 2018 12:15 pm

Has anybody seen the DVD release of this for sale from the oh-so-wonderful URL" onclick=";return false; ?

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