Jun 27, 2020

"Come to Daddy": Elijah Wood is Gay for 45 Minutes

The title Come to Daddy, has a creepy, quasi-erotic feel, perfect for a "psychological thriller."  It stars Elijah Wood, who always plays gay-vague roles, and Stephen McHattie, who was hot back in the day, so I'm in.

Prologue: Quotes from Shakespeare and Beyonce?

Scene 1: Ah, wilderness!  A Timberline bus stops amid the big trees to let out a man in a black hat, who turns out to be Norval (Elijah Wood).

He walks through the big trees to a big lake.

He loses his hat, revealing a really stupid bowl-hair cut.  Finally he reaches a very distinctive two-story house shaped like the Jupiter 2 on Lost in Space, with a balcony overlooking the rocks.

How do they get groceries up there? Is there a road?  If so, wouldn't it be easier than the wilderness trek?

Craggy, creepy Dad (Stephen McHattie) answers the door, glaring suspiciously.  Crazy as a loon, Dad takes awhile to catch on that Norval is his long-estranged son, whom he wrote a letter inviting to visit..  Finally Dad invites him in.

Scene 2:  Unpacking in his room, Norval takes his cell phone out of his pocket --close up of his crotch.  Suddenly Dad barges in and asks for a photo. Is it just me, or did that exchange have homoerotic undertones?

Dad "accidentally" drops Norval's cell phone in the ocean, so he can't call anyone.  Uh-oh, 

Scene 3: At dinner, Dad razzes Norval for still living with his mother at his age ("You sleep with her?" he asks).  Then he pushes Norval to drink some wine.  Norval explains that his alcohol dependency led to an attemptd suicide, but Dad continues to push.

Norval hasn't mentioned a wife or girlfriend. The first rule of gay subtexts: if they don't mention a lady, they can be read as gay.  And Dad, although brash and vulgar, is refreshingly free of heterosexual braggadochio -- no "this gal in Shanghai could do things with her tongue!"

Scene 4:  After dinner, the two realize that they know next to nothing about each other, so they exchange bios.  Norval is a famous dj/pianist/musician and a close friend of Sir Elton John (I don't believe that for a second).  Dad a retired limo driver whose main client happened to be Sir Elton.  They got to be very close (implying that they were lovers!  good deal!)

Dad calls Norval's bluff by threatening to call Elton, then reveals that he doesn't know him, either.  Har-har.  This is turning way funnier than I expected from a psychological thriller.

Later, Norval is brushing his teeth when Dad appears, creepily, in the mirror:  "You ever been in a fight? I have.  Knocked a guy's ear off.  You could see right into his skull."  Run, Norvy, run!

Scene 5: In the middle of the night, Norval gets up for a glass of water, and overhears Dad talking on the phone: "What do you want me to do? I'm not going to kill him. We can use him for leverage..."

Norval runs back to his bedroom and pretends to be asleep.  Uh-oh, he's in trouble!

Scene 6: In the morning, instead of high-tailing it out of there as fast as his legs can carry him, Norval calls Mom on the house phone and says "No, he's not what I imagined."

Interspliced with the conversation are scenes of the two swimming (Norval has a nice chest, Dad not so much), Then Norval is taking a bath while Dad talks on the phone: "No, he's dead.  I killed him"

Scene 7:  Norval asks why Dad left when he was five, and why he sent the letter inviting him there.  Dad won't answer. They argue.  Dad razzes Norval for dressing like a woman, and calls him a "cunt" who puts rats up his "vaginia."

This seems to be an adaption of the homophobic urban legend that gay men put gerbils up their butts, shifted to a lady.  But why not just call Norval a "fag"?  Is   Dad going out of his way to avoid seeming homophobic?  But sexism is ok?

Anyway, Dad attacks Norval with a butcher knife, then drops dead.  After calling Mom for advice, Norval covers the body and calls the cornoer.

Scene 8: The next morning, Ronald the Cop arrives (bodybuilder turned actor Garfield Wilson).  He tells Norval that he has nice eyes and tries to impress him by burping (maybe taking off your shirt would be a better strategy, Ronald?).

Scene 9: Hey, what happened to Ronald?  I thought he and Norval would be dating. Now a lady coroner shows up to take the body.  She tells Norval that he has kind eyes.

If they end up dating, I'm leaving. 

Scene 10:  Gladys the Lady Coroner and Norval are walking on the beach together.  Grr.  Oh -- they're just carrying down the body. 

"You're going to be ok..when my husband died, I was a mess..take care of yourself"  That's not flirtatious, is it

Well, is it?

Scene 11: Instead of leaving, Norval has to wait for Mom to arrive.  That night he hears a weird scraping sound.  He hears it again while reading The Celestine Prophecy naked, and again while putting his clothes on.  He looks at Gladys' business card.  And smells it.

 He smells her card?  God, please let there be no fade-out-kiss.

He starts drinking again.  Drunk, he calls Gladys the Coroner Lady and invites her over for sex.  She refuses -- but only because he's being obnoxious.  If he invited her to a nice dinner, she'd probably say yes.

Ok, I'm disgusted.  I'm leaving.  Here's the rest of the plot, from Wikipedia:

Norval investigates the sound, and finds a beaten, bloody man in the basement-- his Real Dad (Martin Donovan)!

This is actually not him, it's a plug from Martin's twitter account of the movie he's directing, The Legs of Infamy, starring Steve McCain.  I'm definitely looking forward to it.

Plot dump: Back in the day, Real Dad, Fake Dad, Jethro (Michael Smiley), and a guy named Dandy (Simon Chin) were involved in a kidnapping.  Real Dad double-crossed them and fled with the money, which he, Mom, and Norval have been living on ever since.

Fake Dad found Real Dad and started torturing him.  At that moment, Norval showed up!  Now the other two guys will be coming to kill them both. But Norval manages to kill one, and the other dies in an accident.  The end.

Frigging gay tease.  But at least there's no fade-out kiss.

Jun 26, 2020

Edd Byrnes: The Ginchiest Gay Hustler

During the 1950s, lots of young musclemen found ways to earn some extra cash with their  biceps and bulges, as bodybuilders, physique models, and hustlers for the newly-organized gay community.  A few of them broke into show biz, usually as Italian sword-and-sandal studs or Western heroes.

But Edd Byrnes became famous as a kook.

Born in 1933 in New York, he began bodybuilding as a teenager, and at age 17 began posing for physique magazines and hustling for a select group of well-moneyed gay clients.  One of his clients became a mentor, taking him to the best nightspots, introducing him literature and the theater, encouraging his interest in acting.

In 1955, Edd moved to Los Angeles at the height of the juvenile delinquent craze, and got some bit parts and surly James Dean-style roles: Reform School Girls (1957), Johnny Trouble (1957), Life Begins at 17 (1958). 


In Girl on the Run (1958), he played a killer opposite detective Stuart Bailey (Efrem Zimbalist Jr.).  Zimbalist, later the poster boy for 1970s homophobia,  was so impressed with Edd's work that he suggested him for the spinoff, the swinging detective series 77 Sunset Strip (1958-64).

But not as his partner -- that would be Roger Smith (the older Patrick in Auntie Mame).  He would be comic relief: Kookie Kookson III, a parking lot attendant who spoke nearly impenetrable hipster slang and obsessively combed his greaser hairdo.

Not surprisingly, given his gay-friendly past, he eyed the two detectives with palpable homoerotic appreciation.

Kookie became a standout star, eventually joining the detective team and appearing as "himself" on other swinging detective dramas, Hawaiian Eye and Surfside Six.  

He had a brief teen idol career, with a hit single, "Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb" (1959), actually a slang-heavy dialogue between Kookie and Connie Stevens:

Kookie: I've got smog in my noggin ever since you made the scene
Connie:  You're the utmost!
Kookie: If you ever tool me out, I'm the saddest, like a brain.
Connie: The maximum utmost!

His record also contained such hits as "Kookie's Mad Pad" and "Square Dance for Round Cats."

When 77 Sunset Strip ended, Edd found himself typecast as a slang-spouting hipster.  He starred in the beach movie Beach Ball (1965) and a few Westerns, and displayed his physique as a life guard in tongue-in-cheek slasher Wicked, Wicked (1973).  He did a softcore porn, Erotic Images, in 1983 (he was heterosexual in real life).

He continued to work through the 1990s, playing killers and detectives and aging beachboys.  But in the eyes of his fans, he never stopped being Kookie, his early years as a bodybuilder and gay hustler long forgotten.

Jun 24, 2020

Hi, Honey, I'm Home: 1950s Sitcom Transported to the Present

Pundits think that people who watch tv can't tell fiction from reality; they're walking around in a daze, accosting soap opera villains in the supermarket and insisting that only NCIS lawyers take their case.  To capitalize on the presumed blending of fictional worlds, Hi Honey, I'm Home appeared during the summers of 1991 and 1992.

The premise: A family from one of the "perfect" black-and-white nuclear family sitcoms of the 1950s is relocated to the "real" 1990s.

The family consists of wondrously loving Honey and Lloyd Nielson (Charlotte Booker, Stephen C. Bradbury), named after the tv raing system, and their obedient, polite, clean, tidy, and studious children, teenage Babs and preteen Chucky (Julie Benz, Danny Gura).

But next door is an overworked, flustered, fast-food-preparing single mom, Elaine Duff (Susan Cella) and her obnoxious kids, preteen punk rocker Skunk (Eric Kushnick) and teenage nerd Mike (Peter Benson).

Elaine does her best to befriend Honey and bring her into the 20th century. She can think for herself, take a class, get a job.  Their friendship is threatening to Lloyd, who wants to be "the man of the house."

Gee, maybe the 1950s weren't so perfect after all.

Mike, a fan of 1950s tv, is the only one who suspects the family secret (and eventually discovers it).  He has an obligatory crush on Babs, but it seems forced.  He hangs out with the entire family because he feels wanted, and the Nielsons need him to help negotiate the strange new world that they're trapped in.

A selling point of the series was the many guest stars, stars of 1960s sitcoms (in character): Gomer Pyle, Grandpa Munster, Alice from The Brady Bunch, Lisa Douglas from Green Acres, Sally Rogers from The Dick Van Dyke Show, and Mr. Mooney from The Lucy Show.

Erick Kushnick and Danny Gura (top photo)have both retired from acting, but Peter Benson is busy with off-Broadway plays, and Julie Benz went on to play Darla the ditzy vampire on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Stephen C. Bradbury recently starred in Off the Record, an adaption of the incident where Idaho senator Larry Craig was arrested for soliciting an undercover cop in a Minneapolis airport men's room.

Jun 23, 2020

Captains Courageous: Boys Alone on a Boat

Literature is full of poor little rich boys, kids raised in unutterable wealth who nevertheless are missing something essential, something elemental -- and find it, either by design or by fortuitous accident.

Rudyard Kipling's 1897 novel Captains Courageous sends snobbish, practical-joking 15-year old Harvey Cheyne Jr. over the side of a steamship.

He is rescued by Captain Disko Troop, a Newfoundland fisherman, who refuses to take him to a port until the season is over -- and forces him to work alongside the rest of the crew.  At first Harvey complains, but then he learns the joy of work and the camaraderie of working men, and especially bonds with the Captain's teenage son, Dan.

When Harvey finally returns to his parents, he brings Dan along. Both go to work for his father's shipping line.  There are no women in the novel except for Harvey's mother.

There have been three movie versions that modify the romance in odd ways.

The 1937 version decreases Harvey's age (played by 13-year old Freddie Bartholomew), and minimized the role of Dan (Mickey Rooney, left and top photo), instead having him saved by an adult fisherman, Manuel (Spencer Tracey).  Their friendship becomes intense and intimate, but it is doomed: during a race with another ship, Manuel is entangled in the rigging and pulled under the water, where he drowns. The movie ends with Harvey back in civilization, throwing a wreath into the sea to honor Manuel's memory.

The 1977 tv version restores Harvey to adolescence (played by 17-year old Jonathan Kahn, right)  and minimizes both Dan (Johnny Doran) and Manuel (Ricardo Montalban), although Manuel still dies.  Harvey doesn't get a romantic partner, just a father figure in the Captain (Karl Malden).

The unwatchable 1996 tv version restores Harvey and Dan to prominence (Kenny Vadas, Kaj-Erik Eriksen), but this time Dan is entangled in the rigging and dies. By the way, the Captain (Robert Ulrich) gets a wife.

I can't even begin to speculate on why the writers or directors decided to transfer the gay subtext from peer to older-younger, but I know why they decided to have Harvey's partner die: to emphasize the heterosexist conceit that same-sex bonds are temporary, mere adolescent fancies.  Just as the Captain has a wife back home, when Harvey returns to port, he will abandon childhood romances and marry.

Jun 22, 2020

Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List: A Woman Turns a Straight Guy Gay

College students Naomi (former Disney teencom girl Victoria Justice) and Ely (soap star Pierson Fodé) are long-time besties.  Their parents, a single mom and two moms, are next door neighbors in a elegant apartment complex just off Washington Park in New York.(apartments in that neighborhood go for $7000 per month, so apparently the moms are loaded).

Ely is flamboyant, fierce, in-your-face fabulous.  One expects him to be competing in the next season of RuPaul's Drag Race.  But Naomi isn't having any of it.  She's ok with gay people, just not with Ely being gay.  She wants some of him; surely there must be a deep-voiced hetero stud buried beneath the layers of swish.  It will just take the love of a good woman to bring him out.

Does anyone in this day and age actually believe that you can "fix" gay men by sleeping with them?   Especially a 18-year old living in New York?

 Well, she does have a precedent. Her Dad had an affair with one of Ely's Moms. Is this an episode of Seinfeld from 20 years ago?

And, to be fair, Ely does give mixed signals.  He is literally all over her, holding, hugging, kissing (on the lips and everything, gazing into her eyes, spooning in bed.  Discussing the hotness of passing guys is apparently just a fun activity to engage in with the love of his life ("I love you more!" "No, I love you more!).

Maybe it's just bad acting from a straight guy ("Ok, my character is gay, so I should swish -- wow, my co-star is hot!").  Or maybe Ely will come out of the closet as a swishy straight man.

While Naomi is waiting for Ely to pop the question, the two have adopted a rule:  no competing over guys. If they both like a guy, they put him on a "no kiss list" (I would actually call it something else).  Thus,the plot.

Bruce 1, a nerdish photography student, has been in love with Naomi since he was five years old, but he's not her type -- not swishy enough.

So she accepts a date with Bruce 2 -- and, of course, brings Ely along.  Why wouldn't you bring the Love of Your Life along on a date?  Although she might want to stop holding hands with, dancing with, hugging, and kissing Ely for just a few minutes.  Really, the "let's demonstrate our favorite kissing scene from a romantic movie!" was uncalled-for.

At the end of the date, after Ely swallows Naomi's tongue for a few minutes, he suggests that she and Bruce 2 go home for sex (alone!).  I'd be running fast in the other direction, but Brruce 2  consents.  The foreplay is clunky and inept  -- he's obviously not interested in her in that way --so they call it off.

The next night Ely and Naomi go out alone, but in the middle of their romantic dance, another guy cuts in, and Ely kisses him!  Naomi is incensed by his "cheating."  Wait -- it's for her to have sex with other guys, but he can't even kiss?   So she visits Bruce 1 and hugs and kisses him.

A few days later, Bruce 2 shows up for a date with the life partners, but Naomi isn't around.  So Ely entertains him by displaying his comic book collection and chest, and they kiss.

No problem, right?  Naomi was just kissing Bruce 1 a minute ago.  But no, she can't find out.  Complications arise, including Bruce 2 hiding in a closet (hint, hint) and the wrong gum (Ely only chews Bubble Yum, so why does he offer Naomi Orbit before they swallow each other's tongues?).

The truth comes out, and  Naomi angrily dumps Ely.  He rebounds into a relationship with Bruce 2. (although we never see them kiss again).

After some huffing and puffing and "what is she doing here,"  Naomi settles down into a romance with the hot doorman Gabriel (Matthew Daddario), who was on the No Kiss List (ergo the title: Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List).

Finally Naomi and Ely reconcile, as friends -- no more tongue-swallowing, just a kisses on the hand and cheek and a nostalgic argument over who loves who more.

I don't understand this movie at all.  Not that I object to Ely staying gay, but he has spent the last 88 minutes being over-the-top heterosexual, or maybe bisexual with a strong preference for women. He has been over-the-top deeply, passionately, erotically in love with Naomi.  He looked like he had an erection every time she got within five feet, and he did everything sexual except actually put it in.  Having him say "I met a guy, and we're in love" doesn't make any sense.

Unless -- this was all from Naomi's point of view, and she's an unreliable narrator. We saw how she wanted Ely to act, not how he was really acting.

Nope.  Too subtle.

The fade out scene, by the way, does not involve Ely.  Naomi and Gabriel the Doorman are kissing and licking each other's lips, while Bruce 1 looks on in disgust.

I can sympathize.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...