Mar 4, 2021

"The Tuche Family": Nine Interconnect Stories, Swimming Pool Fatigue, and Two Boyfriends Almost Kiss

I was in a hurry to get something playing on Amazon Prime before my cereal got soggy, so I click on the first movie with a blurb that I hadn't seen before:  The Tuche Family.  No idea what it is about, except "tush" is slang for "buttocks," so maybe it's The Coneheads, but with butts instead of cones. I fast-forwarded, looking for gay content, and found this:

A teenage boy drives his car to the beach.  A boy named Raphael leaves his friends to check it out  "You can touch it," he says, introducing himself as Tuche Daddy.  They gaze at each other for a long time.

Is this a gay romance?  I'd better watch from the beginning:

Scene 1:
It's a French film, so tuche doesn't mean anything. A young boy named Donald narrates (also called Quack-Quack, or Coin-Coin in French).  He introduces us to his father, the ugly Jeff Tuche, a small town ne-er do well who decorates the town Christmas tree with dirty socks, offers the priest 20 euros to baptize his car, and is constantly coming up with schemes to evade the bill collectors.  

His other eccentric family members include: Mom Kathy, who thinks she is the long-lost sister of Princess Stephanie of Monaco; self-indulgent teenage sister Stephanie; teenage brother Wilfred (Pierre Lottin), and Grandma Suze, who drinks "suze" all day and carries around her stuffed deceased dog.

Whoops, Wilfred is reading a magazine with a photo of a big-breasted woman atop a car hood.  Straight!  Could the gay scene be with someone else?

Scene 2: They win 100 million euros in the lottery!  They set out on the road -- wow, that's the sound the gas pump makes when you fill the tank all the way!  -- and reach Monaco, their new home.  Nice establishing shots.  Everyone stares as a crappy car full of rednecks stops at the ritzy Hotel Royale.  The concierge tries to stop them from registering.  The bank manager almost kicks Dad out,  But, as Jed Clampett discovered, money talks.  

Scene 3: They move into their 36,000 euros per night suite (really ritzy; most hotel rooms in Monaco go for less than 250 euros).  Sister Stephanie finds that it doesn't stock her bargain-brand hair gel, so she has housekeeping bring some up.  Mom washes clothes and hangs them on the balcony to dry.  

Meanwhile, an outraged hotel guests comes to the front desk. Grandma's stuffed dog fell off the balcony into his coffee.

Scene 4:
Breakfast.  They discuss how they are going to fit in to their "new homeland" (like the Clampetts in Beverly Hills).

The family goes shopping, and then takes a helicopter tour of Monaco (nice shots, but I'm getting tired of them.  This is like a travelogue).  Then it's off to Princess Stephanie's private club, where flashing 1,000 euro bills around doesn't work: they can only join with a sponsor.  

A hot guy (Ralph Amoussou) does a triple-take at Stephanie.  Maybe he'll be their in.

Meanwhile, Dad is house-hunting.  The realtor shows him several palatial villas, but he doesn't like any until finally he says one is "ok.": the view out the window is the same as his wife's poster back home.  He also installs a suze fountain, a photo booth, and a french fry hut.

Scene 6: The next door neighbors get an invitation to the Tuche's housewarming party.  Dad disapproves of noveau riche hicks, so Mom Mouna, teenage Salma, and preteen Jean-Walid go alone. Uh-oh, I smell a love interest for the car-and-boob obsessed Wilfred.  They are the only ones who show up, but they actually enjoy the photo booth and the french fry hut  

The teenage girls bond over discussions of Paris Hilton and film, and Dad plays soccer with Jean-Walid.  Both kids seem rather repressed, with "study all the time and don't have any fun" parents; maybe the Tuches will be their salvation.  

Scene 7: The head of a private school agrees to admit Donald in exchange for french fries (which you can't get in Monaco) .

While Dad and Jean-Walid play soccer, Mom starts working on Mouna's salvation -- getting her to relax over "bubbly" (non-alcoholic faux-champaign), and Donald reads up on investments.  Maybe he'll be working on their stodgy businessman dad?

Meanwhile, Wilfred drives his new car to the beach. A teenage boy named Raphael leaves his friends to check it out  "You can touch it," Wilfred says.  He introduces himself as Tuche Daddy.  They gaze at each other for a long time.

This is the scene I saw at first.  I thought Wilfred was into cars and boobs because of the magazine.  Could he be into cars and dudes?

Back to Mom and Mouna.  "I'm sure he has a girlfriend," Mouna says. But he means her husband, no Wilfred.  They used to "have it all," but then he made a lot of money, and their relationship is over: "Money is poison."  

Scene 8: 
Mouna agrees to sponsor Mom at the country club.  Old hags clutch their pearls as they walk past the pool (does anyone in Monaco do anything but sit by the pool?)  Suddenly a woman in the water yells for help, and a man named Daniel rushes to the resue.  

Mouna and Mom introduce themselves and gawk at his muscles (a love interest for Mouna?).

Meanwhile, Dad become a volunteer coach for the pee-wee soccer team

Scene 9: Mom teaches Mouna how to go grocery shopping,  Meanwhile, Dad test drives a race car.  Could we get back to Wilfred being gay?  

Scene 10: Donald narrates: "In 2 months we'd spent 20 million euros."  Ruh-roh. I know where this is heading.  Being rich is awful -- being poor is great.  What the owners of the means of production tell the workers..

Wilfred and his boy friends frolicking in the pool, Mouna flirting with Daniel, the two teenage girls ogling the hot black guy --  Georges Diouf, "Monaca's young hopeful" -- and Quack-Quack decides that he's going to be "true to himself" and reveal that he's smart.  

Headmaster calls the parents in and reveals that he's getting A+ grades.  They don't believe it -- he must have cheated.  

Later he explains to the Headmaster why he pretended to be dumb for 12 years: he was afraid that he wouldn't fit into a family of underachievers.

Scene 11: Soccer game.  Dad's team is losing 7-0 at halftime, but he gives them a pep talk. 

Dad goes home to find Mom alone.  The kids have scattered -- they're not a team anymore. (Teenagers having their own lives?  Horrible!) Donald still insists that he didn't cheat.  Everyone has grown apart.

Scene 12: Dad and Daniel at a casino, gambling and discussing the family problems.  

Meanwhile, Mouna's two kids are eating dinner and discussing how the Tushes are "a real family."   Salma puts on makeup to go dancing with Stephanie.  Wait -- are they dating?

While she is gone, Mouna announces that she's leaving her husband, and packs up Walid to go stay with the Tushes.  Walid sleeps with Donald who bribes him to get his dad's email address.  

At the club, Salma bribes the DJ to let Stephanie perform  (is Stephanie an aspiring singer?  I don't recall her getting an "I Want" scene).  Hot guy gawks at her. Later he approaches with a bottle of wine.

Meanwhile, Wilfred and his boyfriend are on the beach, looking at the stars. They discuss taking a shuttle to Jupiter and whether having rich parents make you happier. (No kiss?)

Mom and Mouna making cotton candy and discussing getting Mouna laid.   Jeff putters around his empty house, being miserable.

Scene 13: Breakfast.  Everyone is miserable.  Donald makes an intelligent comment, and everyone puts him down.  Wilfred: "You talk like a little faggot!"  Homophobic!  I thought he was gay.  Now I'm really confused.

Scene 14:  I thought we were ready for the climax and denoument, but no, more plot is happening: Donald meets with Mr. El Assad (Mouna's father) about his idea for Chinese tungsten interests.  

The big charity bazaar.  Mom and Dad sing.  The boyfriends have their arms around each other. 

Outside, Hot Guy and Stephanie kiss. "If Dad finds out we're together, he'll kill you." Why would Dad care if his teenage daughter dates?  Because he's black?

Scene 15: Dad has the opportunity of making a business deal, but he needs 100 million euros, and he only has 80.  What to do?  Mortgage his old house back home.  

Meanwhile, Donald and Mr. El Assad fail to get enough investors to raise the 150 million euros needed to buy the Chinese tungsten mine.  They still need 80 million.  Donald knows where to get it.

Scene 16: Hot Guy tells Dad that he wants to marry Stephanie. Dad is  opposed because Stephanie is 18, too young to marry, but Hot Guy convinces him.

Turns out that Daniel has been playing the Tuches all the time.  Thugs steal the 80 million he collected from Dad, but not to worry, he and his Mum move on to a new scam in Grenoble.   But they didn't get the money; Donald stole it to invest in the Chinese tungsten deal, which is a huge success.

Scene 17:
Donald doesn't tell the family that they haven't lost anything, so they think that they are poor again.  

 There's a final soccer game.  Wilfried is caressing Boyfriend's face. Then they all pack up and say goodbye.  Princess Stefanie has a cameo.  They move home,.

Scene 18: Donald finally tells them that they are actually rich.  But they won't make the same mistakes.  They stay home, and invite all of their Monaco friends for a barbecue.  Finally! Thank God!

Beefcake: Endless by-the-pool scenes with hunkoids, usually at a distance.

Other Sights: At first I liked the vistas of Monaco, but then I started getting swimming pool and beach fatigue.  

Gay Characters: Is Wilfred being gay a non-issue, so it doesn't need to be developed?  Did it get lost among the various other characters' stories?  Or did the writers closet him into "ok, touch his face, an then we won't see you again for 20 minutes."

Plot Fatigue:  The interconnectd stories of Dad falling prey to a scam, Mom helping Mouna with her marital problems, Stephanie working on her singing career and getting a boyfriend, Donald pretending to be stupid and partnering with Mr. El-Assad, the other kid being redeemed through soccer, and Wilfred and his boyfriend gazing at each other.  And Grandma learning to speak again.  And Salma photographing everything. It was quite an ordeal.

My Grade: C-.

By the way, Wilfred gets more time to be gay in the sequel.  He and his American boyfriend plan to get married.

Looking for Muscles on the Carol Burnett Show

Variety shows are out of style now, but in the 1960s, they were all the rage.  At least among the adults.  In 1969, they could watch 9 hours of variety per week: Leslie Uggams, Carol Burnett, Red Skelton, Glen Campbell,  Jim Nabors, Tom Jones, Jimmy Durante, Jackie Gleason, and Andy Williams (programs all named after their star).

All of the kids I knew hated variety. Passionately.  Except for our own Smothers Brothers and Laugh-In, of course.  Slow songs from dinosaur times, lady dancers in skimpy costumes, jokes involving heterosexual desire, comedy sketches featuring characters popular on radio a thousand years ago, and bathetic closing numbers involving sad clowns or cleaning ladies.

I usually managed to get out of watching variety shows by claiming homework, or when my brother and I got our own tv set, watching something else -- anything else.  But for some reason I saw a lot of Carol Burnett, hatred or not.

There were only three reasons to watch:

1. Co-host Lyle Waggoner, a former male model who appeared nude in Playgirl.  He played the leading-men and hunks in comedy sketches.  Unfortunately, because they were comedy, he never appeared nude or even shirtless on the show.

2. Frequent guest star Ken Berry (previously of Mayberry RFD), who sang, danced, and appeared in comedy sketches.  He had some muscles, and often wore extra-tight pants that would give Frank Gorshin some competition in the bulge department. Unfortunately, his numbers usually involved heterosexual romance.  One, called "Love Stolen from the Cookie Jar," was about how much he enjoyed  grabbing the butts of strange girls.

3. Occasionally other hunky guest stars, like Steve Lawrence and John Davidson.

4. The "Mama's Family" sketches, about a dysfunctional Southern family, featuring Carol as the brash Eunice (left), Harvey Korman (not pictured) as her husband, and the much younger Vickie Lawrence as crotchety Mama (right).  Gay actor Roddy McDowell (center) appeared occasionally as Eunice's highly educated, sophisticated brother, who lived to regret his visits. Alan Alda and Tommy Smothers appeared as other brothers before it was established that Mama had only one son, Vinton (Ken Berry).

 Anything that skewered the myth of the deliriously happy nuclear family was fun.  And it spun off into the sitcom Mama's Family, which was a must-watch program of the 1980s due to the hunky Alan Kayser.

See also: Once Upon a Mattress.

Mar 2, 2021

"Ginny and Georgia": "The Gilmore Girls" with More Sex and Murder

When you log on to Netflix, a promo immediately starts blaring at you: a high school girl takes down the teacher for assigning 16 books this semester, but only two by women and one by a person of color. Is he teaching literature or white male privilege? I could use some woke characters, so I started watching Ginny and Ginny or something like that.  

Scene 1: Ginny is in a classroom, narrating: "My Mom had me when she was my age, 15, so I got the "sex talk" at age 7."  Hunkoid turns around to flirt with her.  She continues: "Sex.  Men want it, and they think you should give it to him."  Ok, all men are interested in sex with women.  No gay people exist.  Strike 1.

Hunkoid goes off to flirt with some girls with their hair blowing in the wind in slow motion (how do they get the wind to blow inside the classroom?)  Ginny seethes with jealousy.  

A teacher calls her out of class to say that her stepfather has been killed in an accident.  Whoops, I thought this was a comedy.  Strike 2.

Scene 2:  The open-casket funeral.  Ginny overhears two women talking trash about her mother and accidentally on purpose bumps into them.  To be fair, Mom is dressed in a Black Widow outfit and being overly dramatic about her grief.  She's obviously delighted that the geezer is dead: she inherits all of his money, and his own son gets nothing.

Scene 3: Ginny, her Mom Georgia, and 9-year old Austin are heading north in their convertible.  Georgia shoves her feet into Ginny's face and sings that song that Ashton Kutcher sings in that Cheetos commercial -- wait, it's a real song about catching someone having sex.  I thought it was weird for him to catch Mila Kunis eating Cheetos in the shower.

They have enough money now for Mom to take a break from marrying men.  Maybe she'll even try dating for fun, have sex with someone she actually likes for a change.  

Scene 4: They stop for gas at a small-town gas station (Interstate Highways don't exist, of course). A  fat redneck Southern sheriff stereotype sees Ginny pumping gas, stops his car, and walks toward her in slow motion (she's black-ish).  But then he sees that Georgia is white, and leaves them alone.

Scene 5:
They arrive at ritzy small-town Massachusetts, with yoga studios and Thai fusion restaurants.  Better than Texas.  But this means the hunk from Scene 1 is gone forever.  Georgia sees a campaign poster for the Mayor, Paul something (Scott Porter), and thinks that she migiht want to have sex with him.  They arrive at their fancy federal-style house.

Flashback to a blond woman in a crappy trailer park, being assaulted by a man.  Hey, I thought this was a comedy.  She grabs a knife and slashes him to escape.  He calls: "I'm going to kill you. Mary!"

I'm confused. The women are both blond.  Is this another character, or did Georgia change her name?

Scene 6:
 It seems like I've been watching forever, and there's been only one hunk and no gay references except an assertion that all men are heterosexual.  I'm about to call it quits.

A third blond woman gets out of her car and berates her son for smoking weed (son is played by Felix Mallard, back).  She sees Ginny and Georgia unloading their stuff across the street, and comes over with a plate of  "welcome to the neighborhood" cookies.  This one is named Ellen.  Three blond women in the first five minutes.  Doesn't the director find other hair colors attractive? 

Meanwhile, Ginny is talking on the phone to her dad -- apparently still in the picture, in spite of the five elderly stepdads.  She looks out the bedroom window to see the weed-smoking boy climbing ut of his window.  Wait -- Weed Smoker definitely lived across the street.  Is this another boy?

Scene 7: Georgia is dancing in front of a miror, practicing her flirtation and aiming her gun at random objects. 

I'm going to stop there.  Fast forward:  Georgia starts dating the Mayor, and starts a blackmail relationship with Joe (Raymond Ablack).  She is a survivor of abuse, which apparently explains her "marry them and poison them" life strategy.  We're supposed to find her endearing, not reprehensible.  

Ginny starts dating Marcus (Weed Smoker) and Hunter (Mason Temple, who, when you try to search for him online, you get a lot of photos of buildings).  She also gets a lesbian best friend, but gay men don't exist.

And we never see the hunk from Scene 1 again.

Mar 1, 2021

Zandor, Tor, and Chuck: Saturday Morning Muscle

When I was a kid in the late 1960s, it was hard to find beefcake on tv.  Wild Wild West and Tarzan were reliable, there were shirtless teens on Maya, and otherwise you had to hope that an episode of That Girl would have Ann Marie befriending a boxer, or Kirk would get his shirt ripped off on Star Trek.  

But Saturday morning cartoons more than made up for it, with huge numbers of teenage boys and adult men with muscular bodies on display (mostly spandex and open shirts, however; nothing like the semi-nudity of today).  In the fall of 1967, for example:

At 8:30, The Herculoids (1967-69), about a nuclear family of blond space barbarians who defend their planet from alien invaders.  The kid, Dorno, was about my age, but with an amazing build, like Tommy Norden from Flipper.  The dad, Zandor, was even hunkier.

At 9:00, Shazzan (1967-69), about two teenagers trapped in an Arabian nights world with the titular magic genie (not to be confused with Shazam, the Michael Gray series).  Shazzan wore a black vest and no shirt, and the teenage boy, Chuck, wore a white shirt unbuttoned to his navel.  Note: the girl was his sister, not his girlfriend.

At 9:30, you had your choice of Space Ghost and Dino Boy (1966-68), about a boy trapped in a prehistoric world with a cave man guardian, or Samson and Goliath (1967-68), about a boy and dog who morph into superheroic Samson and his lion, Goliath.  I preferred Samson, who wore another shirt unbuttoned to his navel, plus no pants.

At 10:00, The Mighty Mightor (1967-69).  about a prehistoric teenager named Tor -- super hunky already, and a member of a tribe of bodybuilders  -- who morphs into the superheroic Mightor. Unfortunately, the girl in this picture was his sort-of girlfriend.

  At 11:00, reruns of Jonny Quest.

Then a quick lunch, a bit of playing outside, and it was time for an afternoon of The Magic Sword or an old Tarzan movie.

See also: Bamm-Bamm Rubble: Gay Promise on The Flintstones.

Tim Matheson

During the 1960s, Tim Matheson voiced some of my favorite cartoon adventurers -- Jonny Quest, Sinbad Jr., Jace on Space Ghost, Young Samson -- all with strong homoerotic friendships.

I didn't actually see him on screen until Yours, Mine, and Ours (1968), about a blended family with 18 kids.   He plays 18-year old Mike, a clean-cut footballer who expresses no interest in girls -- but takes his shirt off, revealing a magnificent physique.

You didn't see shirtless teenagers much in the 1960s.  I was stunned.  And hooked.

I saw him on tv a lot during the 1970s: not a lot of shirtless shots, but lots of intense, passionate same-sex relationships.  For instance, in The Quest, which lasted for only 15 episodes in the fall of 1976, Tim and Kurt Russell play brothers who didn't grow up together, and therefore treat each other more like lovers as they travel the Old West in search of their kidnapped sister.

In The Runaway Barge (1976), Tim and Bo Hopkins, workers on a barge on the Mississippi, struggle to keep it from crashing with a load of chlorine, and end up walking into the sunset together.

 Then something changed.  In Animal House  (1978), Otter (Tim) displayed a beautifully tanned chest in a toga.

Unfortunately, he formed no strong bonds with any of the other boys of Delta House.  Instead, he spent the movie sleeping with every woman in sight, including the Dean's wife.

I continued to go to Tim's movies for a few years.  He was displayed in his underwear or nude a lot, but sometimes beefcake is not enough.

He often played horny teen slackers with little time for same-sex romance.  In Up the Creek (1984), about an intercollegiate rafting race, his Bob has three buddies (Stephen Furst, Dan Monahan, Sandy Helberg), but doesn't buddy-bond with any of them.

Or else New Sensitive Men (like Ryan O'Neal), slim and handsome, but so busy bedding women that they didn't have a lot of time for same-sex romance.

 In A Little Sex (1982), for instance, Michael (Tim Matheson) has a long-term girlfriend plus the dreamy-eyed glances of every woman in town -- but his only male friend is his brother (Edward Herrman).

Or else Ordinary Guys and their wives and kids caught up in paranormal horror.  In Impulse (1984), an earthquake in a small town gives everyone poor impulse control.  Before long, they're fighting, stealing, and having indiscriminate heterosexual sex.

What changed?  The shift from television to movies?  From teen to adult? Or did the culture change, 1980s conservatism, Ronald Reagan, mechanical bulls, "Real Men Don't Eat Quiche," making close same-sex friendships suspect?

I gave up in the mid-1980s.  Since then, Tim has been in over 60 movies  I've seen three.
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