screenplay by Frank Waldman and Blake Edwards
Peter Sellers - Chief Inspector Clouseau
Michael Robbins - Jarvis
John Clive - Chuck
This fourth outing for Sellers as Inspector Clouseau has him investigating a kidnapping. Having visited the manor home of the kidnapped scientist, Clouseau follows the butler Anisley Jarvis when he leaves the manor. The butler arrives outside a Soho club - The Queen of Hearts – from the outside of which we can hear cabaret/ bar noises. The leather-jacketed butler arrives on motorcycle, parks his bike and enters.
Then to our and Clouseau’s surprise the cabaret singer appears – Jarvis in drag. Jarvis is a drag act in the Danny La rue style, in blazing evening gown, an appearance in stark contrast to his earlier professional brusque manner. Apparently according to the internet, and who should know better, the song he sings is actually performed by Julie Andrews, the director’s wife. The song starts with some heavy emphasises on the word “queen” (ha-ha-ha).
Meanwhile there several middle-aged couples dancing in background, their hands held highly, prissily about each other. Because men dancing is automatically funny because it’s abnormal. Just wait until we get to the Police Academy films. Then Jervis drags Clouseau into dancing with him to Clouseau’s further embarrassment. A fight breaks out when kidnappers approach. It is at least a proper fight, - there are no sissy flapping hands beating ineffectually. These two guys get knocked on top of each other.
When you think as to what the gay bar scene was turning into in the mid-70s, this is very much a straight person’s idea of a gay bar, denatured and sexless, yet still creepily flirtatious. In its weird way this is a rerun of the unexpected drag queen in a flamboyant bar scenario in Walter Huston’s 1970 “The Kremlin Letter”. This isn’t offensive, but it isn’t realistically typical at all, and at a time when gay men were looking for positive representations this fell far short, earning some criticism in the gay press.
It’s in contrast to this sort of representation, that you get the ostentatiously normal gay bar in the 1997 episode of “Maude”