DVD Review: Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood

STUDIO: Kino Lorber | DIRECTOR: Matt Tyrnauer
RELEASE DATE: Nov. 7, 2018 | PRICE: DVD $19.99
SPECS: NR | 98 min. | Documentary | 1.78:1 widescreen | stereo

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie  | Audio  | Video | Overall

If it’s gossip you want, there is no shortage of it on display in Scotty and the Secret History of

Inspired by the book Full Service: My Adventures and The Secret Sex Lives of the Stars, this documentary by Matt Tyrnauer (Studio 54) looks at the life of Scotty Bowers, the 95-year-old keeper of many secrets of the Hollywood stars.

Those unfamiliar with Bowers’ controversial 2013 autobiography will soon learn that this spry, upbeat fellow was once a matchmaker for the Tinseltown elite, specializing in the closeted world of gay trysts. A former Marine who served in World War II, Bowers settled in Los Angeles and worked at a gas station on Hollywood Boulevard, which helped him meet people going to and from the studios.

At the same time Bowers pumped gas and handled lube jobs, he established a service behind the station, taking care of familiar names in forbidden hook-ups that remained clandestine. Later, he became a bartender which put him into contact with even more movie dignitaries looking for dates unbeknownst to the studios.

A vintage picture of Scotty Bowers on the town.

While Bowers has been married to the same woman for over 30 years—she appears miserable whenever his past or his book is mentioned–he is not shy at revealing some of his own sexual soirees, much to his wife’s chagrin. As he tools around Los Angeles arriving at different book signings, he’s greeted by some of his gay “Old School” pals, as well as people taking him to task for naming names and muddying reputations for fans and family alike.

Bowers, who seems to be a hoarder or at least has a serious problem getting rid of possessions he’s amassed over the years, rationalizes his candor by claiming all of the stories he tells have been known in show business for years. While there is no shortage of recognizable anecdotes told here, Bowers seems delighted in bringing new ones into the open, whether it’s a hushed formerly unknown lesbian encounter here or a hush-hush group sex encounter there. While Bowers’ associates  claim the sagas are all true, their veracity should be determined by the viewer.

Along with footage of Bowers at home and on the road to promoting books and telling outrageous anecdotes, Tyrnauer adds familiar film clips from old movies and even racy photos and stag footage to illustrate Bowers’ colorful life. There’s a tawdry, anarchic element to the proceedings here but it seems appropriate. To Scotty Bowers, life has been a sexual carnival, believe it or not.

Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood had a limited release and took in a little less than $500,000 at the box-office. It’s ideal for those with interest in LGBTQ themes, hardcore movie fans and the simply curious.

Buy or Rent Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood
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About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.