The Queen of Sheba, Fox Studios’ lost 1921 Betty Blythe film (originally written for Theda Bara), was another first in nudity on the big screen. Blythe became a sensation due to her topless scenes, and the provocative photos of the actress revealing her barely there costumes were equally risqué.
Carl Theodor Dreyer’s 1924 film Michael (aka Mikaël) is one of the most influential early works in gay cinema. A famous painter falls for his young male model, but a swindling countess complicates their relationship. The movie was banned in France and didn’t see an American release for several years later, retitled Chained: The Story of the Third Sex.
Flesh and the Devil‘s gay subtext, real-life lover leads (a swoony Greta Garbo and John Gilbert), and romantic affair narrative pushed a few boundaries at the time, but also helped make the movie a massive hit.