Sunday, 13 May 2012

404: Gay Bar 5 - Candy

Starts at 8.20

Finishes at 0.35

Candy 1968
Directed by Christian Marquand
Screenplay by Buck Henry

Film adaptation of Terry Southern and Mason Hoffenberg’s satirical pornographic 1958 novel. The book was a sexual variant of Candide, in which Candy, a na├»ve beautiful girl makes her way through the world unwittingly arousing and almost inadvertently having sex with all the people she encounters. The book became notorious and one further aspect of Southern’s reputation for transgressing taboos.

The film features an enormous number of comics and stars making cameos in this films including Marlon Brando, Richard Burton, John Huston, Ringo Starr, Walter Matthau as doctors, politicians, generals, gurus. It’s not a good film, but it’s spottily entertaining with some weird performances and jokes to make up for longeurs, and the ten minute credit sequence in which all the characters reappear in a sort of allegorical tableau to a rock soundtrack is loads of fun like similar endings in “Buckeroo Banzai” or “The Life Aquatic”.

At one point in the book, Candy is arrested by the police, whose car then goes careering into a drag bar. So in this dramatization you get more screaming female impersonators on screen than have possibly ever been collected until “Paris is Burning” (1990). This is mostly just hysterical men in dresses running around shrieking and shrieking and shrieking amidst the rubble. Apparently a number of these are real drag performers not just actors for the days, but I’m afraid time has mostly forgotten them.

Eventually one of the stunned cops is able to declare that this is "a nest of commie, fag draft-dodgers!” and is about to start beating up the drag queens. However, the drag queens overwhelm the one cop - a little foreshadowing of what happened at The Stonewall Inn the next year.

There’s then the moment where the other cop confusedly finds himself kissing a man in a drag, and when he realises what he’s doing, knocks down his kisser, telling him “to fight like a man”. And of course, whenever a homosexual is threatened with violence, the natural response is a sadomasochistic “Yes! Yes! Give me some more!” So assorted perversity in this little scene of about 30 seconds. Actually, it's a little more significant than that. For the longest time "Sunday Bloody Sunday" (1971) used to get trotted out in lists as the first gay kiss in mainstream cinema, but this mostly forgotten film preempts that by three years.

1968 also saw Frank Sinatra in “The Detective”, which was a lot, lot more seriously intended than this film. “The Detective” was a film rather overly in love with its pretensions to the gritty realities of police work. Its crime plot was about an investigation of a murder with sexual mutilation elements which ends up diving into the New York homosexual underworld including how the trucks on the docks were used as a scene for sex. So one to watch in a double-bill with Al Pacino’s “Cruising”.

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