‘Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood’ is a disappointing tabloid tale

Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood (2018)

Directed by Matt Tyrnauer

After serving in WWII, Scotty Bowers returned home and worked at a gas station outside Hollywood, where he would set up LGBT Hollywood stars of the ‘40s and ‘50s with men and women who worked for him. He was a pimp, basically. Now in his early 90s, Bowers will freely admit that to you. And any other lewd details you’d like to know. He’s a regular Hedda Hopper when it comes to juicy Old Hollywood gossip.

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But the new documentary about Bowers sticks a little too closely to the side of the aging hoarder (his wife claims the hoarding stems from childhood trauma, or the war, but Bowers completely dismisses the idea of going to therapy). Instead of going back and telling his story from the beginning, director Matt Tyrnauer follows Bowers as he trims branches from the palm trees in his backyard, goes to a book signing to meet fans of his New York Times bestseller “Full Service,” or attends his 90th birthday and eats from a giant penis cake. That’s all fun, but it’s a waste of time if you’re interested in hearing more than a passing comment on the secret sex lives of Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, and other celebrities of the time.

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Bowers claims to have had sex with people like Spencer Tracy, J. Edgar Hoover, and Bette Davis back in the day, but obviously can’t provide any proof of the secretive sex lives of the people he worked with (or slept with himself). And besides a few friends that show up in in the documentary, Scotty is the last one alive who can attest to the validity of his claims. Whether it’s true or not, Scotty’s “Secret History” is scandalous tabloid gossip about celebrities you may or may not have even heard of. And even if that interests you, you’ll probably be uninterested by the way this titillating story is (and isn’t) told.

4/10

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