Bill Kendall, long considered a pioneer for both art films and LGBT pride in Memphis, passed away at a care home in Atlanta on April 19th. Now his friends and admirers are honoring Kendall's contributions to Memphis film fans in the 1960s and 70s, when he served as manager of the now-defunct movie houses the Guild Art Theatre, the Studio, and Bristol.
"Return to the Ritz: Remembering Bill Kendall," scheduled for Monday, June 10th from 6 to 9 p.m. at Evergreen Theatre (the former home of the Guild Art Theatre), will feature a film screening of Return to the Ritz: A History of Foreign Films in Memphis, a documentary Kendall made about his experiences working in the arthouse theatre world. The event will also feature a screening of the 1969 Miss Gay Memphis Pageant.
Kendall was known for bringing controversial, rare, and campy films to Memphis. Classics such as The Bicycle Thief and Flash Gordon screened here, thanks to Kendall. He also found himself facing an indictment for obscenity by the Shelby County Grand Jury after bringing the films I, A Woman, Without a Stitch, and I Spit on Your Grave. Those charges were dropped when the state declared Shelby County's obscenity law to be unconstitutional.