I know that this is a retread, but there are times when I watch films from this list where I wonder what their significance is to warrant their inclusion. Thanks to having seen The Celluloid Closet a number of years ago I have my answer.
The year is 1933, the enforcement of the Hays Code is only a year away, and MGM are distributing a film about a Swedish queen whose sexual preferences were of great contemporary debate. Nowadays the debate is settled, she enjoyed relations with both genders with a leaning towards women and would dress in manly clothes.
That they chose to make a film about her in 1933 is interesting enough, the fact that they have a number of references to her preference of women actually surprised me. There is a line spoken by Magnus, one of her male suitors, where he says that he will overlook her proclivities as long as she loves him. Something which maps with an earlier scene where she is discussing a holiday with one of her ladies-in-waiting.
It also features the Queen (a deep voiced and always-glamorous Garbo) cross-dressing in most scenes. There are scenes where people are fooled into thinking that she is a man. Not a chance looking the way she does. Still, suspension of disbelief and all. Plus it did give her the line “I shall die a bachelor” which is deliciously jarring.
In terms of the film itself, it was a good enough romantic historical drama to watch when you have pies cooling on the windowsill. The real interest is more how studios were able to treat a topic like a bisexual cross-dressing queen. Apparently by subtle references, a heterosexual love affair with a Spanish diplomat and a wardrobe that spans both genders. Baby steps I guess.