Yeah, I know we're supposed to be fighting stereotyping. All of us want to see LGBT presentation as a full-range spectrum. And lord knows, we are not supposed to laugh at really swishy guys. But can't we keep a few of our most favorite performances? Come to Politically Correct Hell with us and enjoy these masterpieces of mannerisms from the Planet Mary.
Mischa Auer as Russell Paxton, Lady in the Dark (1944)Robert Walker as Bruno Antony, Strangers on a Train (1951)
Auer is the house photographer at the very elite fashion magazine Allure. Ginger Rogers is the chic editor in chief who is having a nervous breakdown. The story goes that the closeted Moss Hart wrote the book for the musical while seeing his own therapist. Seeing a therapist was still pretty novel in the early '40s. In the film, Mischa Auer cuts loose with empurpled temper tantrums and windmill arms. As he reaches his repeated paroxysms of gay implosion, he screeches, "I could just spit!" Helmed by gay director Mitchell Leisen. (Sorry, no video on this one.)
Hitchcock was fascinated with same-sex attraction and gay and lesbian characters. The irony is that Walker was playing it gay while bisexual actor Farley Granger was the straight tennis player. Walker as Bruno Antony is a wonderful murderous psychopath with some real boundary issues. In this scene with his mother, played by Marion Lorne, Walker swishes and eye-rolls his mother into warm giggles as they plot against their husband/father.
Christopher Hewett as Roger De Bris, The Producers (1967)
Mel Brooks's comic masterpiece didn't flinch at imperious queeniness and light transvestism. Hewett as De Bris (Brooks making jokes on circumcision?) owns the moment with his coy reveal and unself-conscious swagger. It was the first time such loony campiness hit the scene in a big mainstream film.
Andreas Voutsinas as Carmen Ghia,The Producers (1967)
As Carmen Ghia, De Bris's partner, valet, and hairdresser, Voutsinas holds his own in a scene all but dominated by Hewett. With his giant medallion, all-black ensemble, and catlike grace, he enters hips first and serpentines about the set.
Taylor Mead as Nurse (with Joe Dallesandro) in Lonesome Cowboys (1968)
In the scene below, Joe Dallesandro (as "Little Joe") and Taylor Mead (as "Nursie") are dancing in the Andy Warhol film Lonesome Cowboys.
Mead was a star in multiple Warhol productions as well as a darling of the downtown set in the East Village. His performances were epic renderings of deadpan camp and self-degradation. Here we see his apparently boneless body as he arabesques about the go-go dancing Dallesandro. And you're welcome.Michael Greer as Malcolm, The Gay Deceivers (1969)
Greer was a popular out performer on the Manhattan gay club circuit. In this lowball minstrel show, he plays the landlord for two young men dodging the draft on the gay escape ticket. With eyes bigger than Bette Davis's, he rolls his hips, flings his wrists, and transforms every word uttered into a gay double entendre. Not the cleverest performance on this list, but you need to see it to share the gay shame.
Cliff Gorman as Emory, The Boys in the Band (1970)
Mart Crowley's masterpiece of alcoholism and the treacherous party games of a certain type of homosexual is still brilliant after all these years. Sorry, Vito. Cliff Gorman's Emory is the nanciest in an all-nancy cast. And like many of the examples on this list, he is also one of the most powerful and resilient characters in the show. Emory shows us that nelly don't mean weak.Tim Curry as Dr. Frank-N-Furter, The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
Oh, come on. You know you love Curry as the star of this deeply loved cult film. I never cared for the RHPS,
but Tim Curry is amazing as he struts, preens, mugs, and neck-flips his way through the entire film. Both terrifying and wildly sexy, Curry opened people up to the exploding world of gender fluidity.Stephen Stucker as Johnny, Airplane! (1980)
Sure, his character is a drop-kick joke repeatedly punctuating scenes with his over-the-top pronouncements and side comments. It is truly gay marginalization. But he is so damn funny! Enjoy Johnny's best moments compiled below.
The Best of Johnny from Airplane!Nathan Lane as Albert Goldman, The Birdcage (1996)
- watch more funny videos
Nathan Lane is the grand duchess of the extravagant gay gesture. He has been killing it for decades on stage, screen, and recently the small screen, in shows such as Modern Family
. What cuts him from the homo herd is his ability to not just nelly it up on an olympic scale but to also take you on an emotional bungee drop. His restraint punctuated with shocking pink explosions made his Birdcage
performance watchable and watchable and watchable.Hank Azaria as Agador Spartacus, The Birdcage (1996)
Playing fey next to Nathan Lane is not a task for the weak at heart. It takes a big, muscular man like Hank Azaria to give Nathan Lane a run for his money. The hapless Agador has the bitchiest cut shorts ever seen on-screen, but the sweetest temperament of any gay character rendered on film. All I can think when I watch all these master comedians at work (including Robin Williams, of course) is how did they ever get a film made -- they must have been cracking up the whole time.John Michael Higgins as Scott Donlan, Best in Show (2000)
Higgins is paired with Michael McKean (right) as competitors in Christopher Guest's wonderful Best in Show
-- a film hardly lacking in gay and lesbian content. Higgins plays Scott Donlan as shallow, self-interested, ambitious, and really condescending. In other words, we all identify with him. Higgins scratches the nelly itch but good.
What did we miss? Add your entries in the comments below!