The Movies That Influenced Film Historian William Mann

William Mann remembers the first Out Film CT, the LGBTQ film festival he co-founded in 1987.

Included in that first lineup were Desert Hearts, Parting Glances and a film by underground experimental filmmaker Kenneth Anger that prompted a few walk-outs. (“Sometimes art hurts,” a friend told Mann.)

For the 30th anniversary of the festival, which takes place June 2-10 at Cinestudio at Trinity College in Hartford, we caught up with the Middletown-raised, Wesleyan-graduated Mann, who is now a novelist, educator, biographer and a Hollywood historian best known for his books on Katharine Hepburn, Barbra Streisand, Elizabeth Taylor and others. His next book, The Contender, is on Marlon Brando. His 2014 fact-based book, Tinseltown, about a high-profile murder in 1920s Hollywood, will be made into a limited series for FX.

We asked Mann, 54, who lives in Milford and Provincetown, Massachusetts, what films most influenced him as a gay man.

The Wizard of Oz (1939) It was the movie I was obsessed with from the time I was a very little boy. It was an event movie that I saw every year and I would think about the film all year long. What drew me to the film was the sense of going in search of something bigger and more colorful than what you already have. I remember even as a very young kid, thinking about Dorothy in the end. ‘What do you mean your heart’s desires are in your own backyard? Not quite. That’s the wrong lesson here. No, you’ve got to look for it elsewhere.’

Bride of Frankenstein (1935) That was the gayest movie ever made. It’s this wonderful mix of camp and pathos.