Flaming Creatures

USA 1963. Dir Jack Smith.

With Francis Francine, Sheila Bick, Mario Montez, Joel Markman.
Costumes Jack Smith and actors.

Once deemed obscene by the state of New York, Smith’s revolutionary Flaming Creatures is an elusive masterpiece which continues to fascinate. Shot in black and white on outdated film stock, it reproduces some of the sensuous pleasures and high glamour from Hollywood’s golden days, especially referencing such stars as Marlene Dietrich and Smith’s beloved Maria Montez. He gives his cross-dressed actors the polymorphous freedom to preen, dance, and playfully inhabit the rapturous and exotic fantasies of Hollywood cinema. Through a combination of fantastic tableau-vivant compositions and cinéma vérité camerawork, he brilliantly transforms his basic set and thrift store ‘couture’ into a dazzling, Sternberg-like mise-en-scène.