Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

La Cage aux Folles

(France, Spain, 1978)

Once when I was in the Big Apple I noticed that someone had made a musical out of this. (It was Harvey Fierstein.) I really wanted to go see it, but I didn’t have the time. Oh, well.

Some years ago I rented the VHS tape, got it home, popped it in the VCR, and found out it had been dubbed. Dubbed!! I will never watch a dubbed movie. I took it back. Oh, well.

But finally here’s a DVD, and it has both the French version and the dubbed. Oh, glory. With that VHS tape I watched enough of it (maybe five minutes) to realize that every word, every nuance, every high-pitched scream of the amazing performance by Michel Serrault as the super-swishy and totally loveable Albin (AKA Zaza Napoli) was lost. Ditto Ugo Tognazzi as the longsuffering Renato Baldi, his lover of twenty years. Oh, what joy, what rapture, to have them restored! I’m not even going to bother with a synopsis of the plot. If you haven’t seen this, treat yourself to one of the funniest plays ever, and one that was quite a bit ahead of its time.

P.S. I had always sort of wondered, in the days before Wikipedia, if either of these men were actually gay. They were not! If you do an image search for Serrault you will see him in many different roles, including some tough guys who couldn’t be further from Albin. Tognazzi I already knew from some Italian films. Both of them did amazing work, but of course they are actors, and should be able to stretch themselves. But many can’t.