Some of My Best Friends Are... (1971)
June 8, 2024 7:09 PM - Subscribe

Pre-Maude Rue McClanahan as a rich barfly surrounded by adoring men. Pre-Andy-from-WKRP Gary Sandy as a self-loathing male hustler. Pre-Buck Rogers Gil Gerard as a gay airline pilot in love. Warhol-era Candy Darling as a beautiful, forlorn trans woman. All part of this 1971 ensemble film following the regulars at a Greenwich Village gay bar for a few hours on Christmas Eve. It's a real time capsule so lots of slurs and stereotypes, and anti-trans brutality towards the end. On Fubo and MGM+ and free in a low-quality Youtube rip.

Compared unfavorably to the previous year's The Boys In The Band for good reason; this is not a well-directed or particularly well-written film, with weird flashbacks and some iffy acting along with a few standouts, but I found it mostly fascinating as 1) a period character piece and 2) an at-times deeply camp gem. Some storylines like the married guy and his Scandinavia ski-bunny boyfriend are pretty dull, and most are underdeveloped, but enough quick scenes and sharp characters made it worth the time, even with some very cringe-worthy stereotypes.

With Fannie Flagg as the coatcheck girl who makes extra money dancing between the guys so they don't get arrested, Dick O'Neill as the straight man thinking he's meeting a woman at the bar, a mafioso owner paying off the cops, and lots of flamboyant queers enjoying themselves by sniping at each other in their various early 70s ways.

Some moments:
31:56 - "Boys facing boys must be accompanied by a female" sign
44:09 - Buck Rogers gossiping at the bar about Rue, who then chews some scenery
51:09 - groovy dancing, with Fannie Flagg putting money from the boys in her bra
1:02:32 - heartwarming gay community in action welcomes the new boy from Nebraska
1:09:13 - self-loathing gay-for-pay male hustler freakout, which leads to the awful brutality a couple of minutes later
1:28:48 - As if that wasn't enough, Buck Rogers' boyfriend's mother shows up at the bar for another depressing moment as she watches her son slowdance with Buck and freaks out, though [SPOILER ALERT] Buck Rogers saves the day.

The last 20 minutes of the movie are all over the map emotionally as Christmas Eve winds down, with Fannie Flagg doing a burlesque number, the crowd cheering up one of the waiters with a heartfelt extended "We believe in fairies!" chant, some characters getting pleasant resolutions, at least temporarily, and others getting deep disappointment as they go back to their necessarily sad gay lives in the early 1970s.

I sorta liked it.

Here's someone's snarky spoileriffic recap.
posted by mediareport (6 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
(timestamps are off if you use the little pop-up arrow; click the full link and they work fine *shrug*)
posted by mediareport at 7:12 PM on June 8 [1 favorite]

I'd never heard of this. Doing a quick skim it's fascinating to see some very straight TV icons of my youth camping it up like this. I've gotta give them some props, because while it may be dated now this would've been some really edgy stuff for 1971. I don't think I'd ever actually heard Candy Darling's voice before. She reminds me a bit of Ellen Greene in Little Shop of Horrors.

Dick O'Neill as the straight man thinking he's meeting a woman at the bar

Er, I do believe you meant to say, "Dick O'Neill as the straight man who doesn't realize the woman he's meeting at the bar is trans."
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:15 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]

No, Dick O'Neill isn't meeting Candy Darling, if that's what you're referring to; his character is meeting someone else. We learn early on he's been talking to one of the bar's waiters over the phone; the waiter does drag and has been talking to him as a woman and is worried about what will happen when they meet face to face because the waiter is usually male-presenting and plans to meet Dick O'Neill that way. I don't recall any evidence that the waiter is actually trans, but there's a lot that's less than ideal in the way the film handles trans issues, for sure, and some really uncomfortable scenes with Candy Darling toward the end.
posted by mediareport at 2:58 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]

(I mean, the waiter/straight guy date is just one of the plot points that don't really make much sense, and doesn't really go anywhere except to put a straight guy at the gay bar so he can continually ask what the hell is going on. Don't expect too much if you get around to watching this one, is all I'm saying :)
posted by mediareport at 3:05 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]

Sorry, yeah, I thought you were referring to Candy Darling.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 11:17 PM on June 9

I needed this right now. Reminds me of going to my first gay bar in NYC in 1975. Thanks.
posted by Czjewel at 7:56 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]

« Older AEW Collision: June 8, 2024 (&...   |  Welcome to Wrexham: Proper Tro... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments